What is the best railing height for an old-fashioned-looking
wrap-around front porch? Here's a link so you can see the porch in
How about 30"? The code for most areas is 36". But, like I said, we
do not have to follow code because or porch is close to the ground.
And 36" just looks to high, like the people sitting on the porch are in
jail. (We've all spent enough time in jail. We don't want to feel
that way on our front porch.) I've read that 30" was a standard during
the Victorian and post-Victorian era. But I've also seen some 24"
railings that look great--they're kind of the ballustrade style--low.
What do you think about 30"? Then we could just by standard composite
railing components from HB&G to go with their columns and modify the
ballusters to make them 6" shorter.
Please share your thoughts.
Just thought I might get more opinions if I broke the question out into
its own discussion.
I'm kind of surprised people haven't sounded out *AGAINST* the 36"
railings. The local architects I've talked to have said that 36" looks
too tall for a house that is trying to look old fashioned or
traditional. They say it looks like a play pen. They say none of the
100+ year old houses had railings that high unless they've since been
Maybe we know more than the locals. I'm 75 and started in
construction at 18 and I have never seen a 24" rail but as I said
before, it's your house and if you want it 12" high, it's no skin
off my butt. We are just telling you what it OUGHT to be. I
would suggest though that you keep your homeowners insurance paid
up so when someone trips over the thing, you are covered.
I live in a house built in 1886 and owned by my family since 1891, The
railing was 36" back then and still is although replaced several times. I
have photos back to 1891. Too low a railing makes one feel that they will
trip over it. If you don't like it, don't use any railing.
You haven't seen a 24" rail. I bet that's exactly what you say after
you trip over it. "Hey, I never saw it".
My suggestion is that you get out a ruler and go measure some railings.
I bet you don't find any 24" ones. But go measure some, that's the
best thing to do.
but as I said
Doesn't matter what they say, if there is a code (i.e., law) requiring a
Style is not merely a slavish, unthinking, unadaptive adherence to
something that soemone did 100 or more years ago.
Remember that people were a lot shorter "way back when", so shorter
rails made sense (just visit some of the original historic farm
buildings - they're like tiny little doll-houses...) Ever been on an
accurate replica of an old sailing ship, or on board the Constitution?
Take a look at vintage clothing? And so on? Everything looks to most
of today's people (in North America at least) like it was made for
You have a brain, why are you fretting because a few people are
blithering about what people did 100+ years ago? Did they have 9'
ceilings back then? Did they have MDF? Nylon? Central heating?
How tall is your *front door*? Is it tall enough for today's people or
did you also put in a short door? If the door, windows, storey heights,
and so on, are all scaled to modern standards, a short little railing
will look absurd. And even at all of that, style, schmyle - what
*matters* is the minimum height *required by the code/law*. If you
choose to ignore that, you'll probably not qualify for home insurance
(or have it cancelled if you lie about the height and they come out to
double-check it), *and* you would be liable if somene fell over a
shorter-than-required railing. And no, it does not matter whether the
person is a relative/friend, a pizza delivery guy, or a peeping tom -
hell, even people who were *robbing* places have won lawsuits if they
were injured because of "safty hazards".
Gee, my grandpa was 6'2" as was his. The house I owned in Boston(1859) had
11' ceilings on the main floor. Older colonial (pre-revolutionary and pre
central heating) houses were designed to hold the heat in the winter so the
ceilings were often low if there were no servants to keep those fireplaces
going. BTW my 1859 house was built with central heating and inside plumbing
on every floor.
But generally, few places were that grand - heck, few are even today
<LOL!> 11' ceilings are pretty, well, grand <g!>
But judging from the forts, homesteads, and other old buildings I've
seen, also museum apparel, most people were smaller - not a matter of
genetics, a matter of diet. So if there were old places with low
railings - well, maybe the folks who built those were smaller. In any
event, it seems to be that these days, installing a 24" or even 30"
railing is like begging for someone to get hurt. IMO, it's worse then
no railing, becasue if there is nothing, people are probably nore likely
to be careful. A short rail offers enough of a "delusion of security"
to be dangerous.
Kris...he said somewhere that code does not require a railing.
the thing about the code can get you into trouble, but not why you think.
If you put no railing, cause none is required, your fine.
If you put a 36" high railing where none is required, your fine too.
You put a 30" railing in, and the inspector will not care if it's required.
He has a piece of paper that says railing must be 36" high, and so he will
red flag you on it. If you explain that the railing is not required, he will
just tell you to take it out, or make it to code. (Their checklist has not
room for exceptions, those are called waivers and around here require a
couple more weeks of permitting)
This of course is not always the case, but I've seen it time and again.
The code required it but he lives outside the area where the code is
That doesn't mean it's smart to ignore it. If an injury occurs, the
lawyer is likely to make some sort of argument regarding what is
customary and expected.
Well, not what I specified in detail, at least.
Right - it's sort of like the "act of God" bit with shoveling snow off
your walkway. If you don't get all the snow off, and it thaws a bit
then re-freezes, and someoine falls and cracks their coconut, well, it
used to be that you'd be liable. Dunno what the scoop is these days -
but I was always meticulous about that.
So why take the chance?
It's the OP's choice of course, but IMO, it'd be nuts.
Sit in a chair on the porch admiring the view..then have someone hold a
yardstick upright where the railing will go.
I'd drop the railing til it doesnt block the view (but then I have see thru
34" high tempered glass "railings")
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