Railing Baluster Spacing


I'm constructing a deck railing with 4"x4" posts, 2"x4" rails, and 1/2" copper balusters. For reasons I won't go into, the spacing between the posts is not equal for each section of railing (i.e., some distances between posts are 44.25", while others are 46", etc.).
Aesthetically, is it more important to maintain the same O.C. spacing between balusters for all sections of the railing (e.g., all balusters are 5" O.C.) or is it more important to maintain equal baluster spacing within a section of the railing (e.g., a 44 1/4" span would result in a baluster spacing of 4.76" while a 32.25" span would result in a baluster spacing of 4.41")
Thanks, Dave
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I would check with your local inspection office. Where I live, balluster spacing can't be more than 4" OC.
The varying spans, between 44" and 46" it won't make that much visual difference if you vary them. However, between 46" and 32" it might as you stated the difference is over 1/3".
Depending on how you built the guard rails, the ballusters could maintain a consistent space if they are attached around the outside of the guard rail as it will look more consistent on the outside side of the guard rail.
I assume that the ballusters are attached between the posts, I would probably vary to spacing as you suggested. Try to get the spacing as close as possible as even 1/3" will be noticable, but don't get overly concerned about it as most will never notice it.
BTW, what are you going to use to protect / finish the copper? Sounds like a neat idea.
David
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Thanks for the feedback. I didn't suspect a +/- 1/4" difference in spacing would be noticeable.
I got the idea for using copper balustrades from an online aluminum product: http://www.deckorators.com/Classic-Baluster.asp .
The only difference is the aluminum balusters are $2.99 each. The copper is standard Type L plumbing pipe at about $1.50 for a 36" length. I wasn't planning on applying any type of finish to the copper, but rather letting it weather naturally.
Dave
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I used 1/2" copper pipe on mine. after about 4 years (GA), there are just patches of green showing up.
I set the spacing by marking off a length of 1/4" latex rubber tubing with a spacing slightly less then the legal minimum. I then stretch it so one mark sits on the edge line for each post, and mark for the balusters with the marks. Even spacing is automatic.
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Hi Dave,
I ran into the same problem about 15 years ago when I put a railing around our "L" shaped front porch. It has 7 posts with a different distance between every one. To make thing worse, the posts were installed by the builder with no regard to keeping the turnings level, so the square bottom part (where you would attach the railing) varied by an inch or so from post to post.
Anyhow, I elected to take each section and keep the ballusters as close to a given measure as I could. It takes a little planning (which you have already done) but it will work out if the spacing is not that different. It is easy to do a "dry fit" to play around with the spacing, then once you are satisfied, cut a "spacer block" to keep spaces equal.
The small spacing difference is not noticeable at all.
Lou
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In one of my former lives as a structural steel detailer (guys that draft the shop drawings) we always used a consistent spacing for the pickets. The odd spaces were at the posts, equal at each end of each section. This way you never had more than 1/2 a space at each end.
There are building codes that dictate the maximum space between any railing. In the old days it was stated as something like "Nowhere shall a 6" ball be able to pass through any space in the railing". Interestingly, the 6" was dictated by the average size of a babies head. No kidding.
This commercial approach is obviously the most productive but I believe it is also the best aesthetically. In my career I was probably witness to at least one hundred instances of this.
BW
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You want to keep the spacing "approximately" the same all around.
Two ways to do this: 1) use fixed spacing _between_ all the balusters, and 'fudge to fit' between the baluster and the post (split the difference between the two ends of the section) 2) lay out each section with 'standard' spacing, to see how many balusters go in, and then 'fudge to fit' that number of balusters with equal spacings.
Unless you've got som _really_short_ sections, to the casual eye, either will look equally good. The first is a bit 'easier' to construct, because a single spacing template can be used for all the baluster-to-baluster intervals.
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I used copper pipe for balusters on my deck and, as many have noted, I put the short spaces next to the posts. They eye never notices the difference. I can post some pics if you want.
Art

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| > I'm constructing a deck railing with 4"x4" posts, 2"x4" rails, and 1/2" | > copper balusters. For reasons I won't go into, the spacing between the | > posts is not equal for each section of railing (i.e., some distances | > between posts are 44.25", while others are 46", etc.). | > | > Aesthetically, is it more important to maintain the same O.C. spacing | > between balusters for all sections of the railing (e.g., all balusters | > are 5" O.C.) or is it more important to maintain equal baluster spacing | > within a section of the railing (e.g., a 44 1/4" span would result in a | > baluster spacing of 4.76" while a 32.25" span would result in a | > baluster spacing of 4.41") | > | > Thanks, | > Dave | > | |
Watch the spacing as a child (if there are any about) could stick its head thru and get stuck. This usually causes a lot of anguish, and fuss.
You might want to keep the spacing at or below 4" to avoid recriminations. Some codes actually spell out what the spacing can be.
When putting in the balusters, start in the middle of the span to mark them and let the small discrepancies fall near the 4X4's.
-- PDQ
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