I need to make a railing for my front porch, but the length of the porch is
about 186 inches long (~16 feet). So far as I know that's longer than a
single 2x4, which is what the railing is now. The current solution is to
have 2 2x4's come together nailed to a vertical stringer but that looks
crappy and the railing is wobbly and uneven.
So how do I make a nice stable top railing out of 2 pieces of lumber coming
together and still keep the same stringer dimensions? The only thing I
could think of would be 2 stringers joined together to provide a solid
mounting surface for both rails but then it would look uneven as I would
have like 15 normal stringers and 1 double stringer.
I have seen 16 foot 2x4's just not at lows or hopeless depot and also not
very straight either or you could bore a hole in the middle of two boards
and insert a 3/4 dowell rod with some good urethane glue. I have used also,
1 1/2 inch aluminum angle to splice them together on the bottom and side
with good success.
Many hand rails are made from laminated pieces which provides both
interesting curves and incredible strength. You could do something
similar by ripping 1/4" strips of 2x4s, glue them using outdoor wood
glue, and clamp them with as many clamps as you can get your hands on.
Trim off the edges, sand and sand and sand, then finish. A staggered
butt joint here and there won't make much noticeable difference. As
you glue up the strips make sure they are positioned against a
straightedge (I might use a snapped chalk line).
I hadn't thought of using laminate boards. That would look better, say 2 8
foot 1x4's laminated together - the shorter length would make it easier to
find straighter boards and since it's not exactly 16 feet, cutting 2 1x4's
short and using them to stagger the joint would look attractive and make the
joint that much stronger - say I could use a staggered diagonal or V-notch
cut to stabilize the side to side motion.
That's not a bad idea. The only issue would be dealing with uneven cupping
of the boards over time - and even glue wouldn't prevent that from
You should have no problem finding 16' 2x4's. But we have built a number of
railings for porches and decks, and there is no way a 2x4 railing 16' long is
going to be suitable. I don't like to use them over a 10' span.
I would build the railing with a 2x6 stretcher placed vertical at the top, and
capped with a horizontal 2x6 or 5/4 x 6 if you want a thinner look. The bottom
stretcher could probably be a 2x4 as long as it was supported to the deck with
blocking in the center.
Spindles should be placed with no more than a 4" gap between them by most
building codes. The top rail should be at least 36" above the deck.
Another method would be to add another post in the center, one just high enough
to support the railing.
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