Getting the Proper Spacing on a Porch Wood Railing

When installing a porch wood railing it is necessary to have proper spacing. While the spacing is an important element for aesthetic value, you must also consider that spacing plays a large part in the sturdiness of the wood railing. Use a calculator. The numbers are not large but there are a few to consider, miscalculated fractions can leave you with a large gap at the end of your railing. Different materials require a different means to calculate spacing; here are a few steps to get the most accurate spacing for a porch wood railing.

Important Parts

You must consider two basic parts for properly spacing your porch wood railing, the posts and the balusters. The posts are generally considered the anchors. They are larger and often times taller than a baluster. Most building codes allow no more than 68.5 inches between porch railing posts. Balusters go between the posts and create the base for your railing. Most building codes allow no more than 4 inches between balusters.

Measure Balusters Space

For illustration purposes, you will use 2 inch x 2 inch balusters. Please note that wood is measured before it is cut, therefore, the actual size will be 1 inch x .5 inch. Then, add that number to the maximum space allowed of 4 inches. Your total is 5.5 inches.

Measure Post to Post Space

Next, you will need to measure the space between the posts on the porch where you have planned your wood railing. For illustration purposes, you will use the maximum space allowed of 68.5 inches. Divide this number by the previous baluster space calculation of 5.5 inches. This will give you the total number of balusters (12.45).  You will need 13 posts and have 14 spaces for this part of the porch wood railing.

Measure Spacing between Balusters

Here you will take the size of the baluster (1.5 inches) and multiply the number of balusters (13) to total 19.5 inches. This is the amount of space the actual balusters will take up between the posts. Subtract 19.5 inches from the 68.5 inches between posts. You will calculate 49 inches left of total empty space between posts.  You will divide the 49 inches by the 14 spaces. There will always be 1 more space than balusters. Total space between each baluster is 3.5 inches.

Ensuring Accurate Placement

Now that you have all the calculations completed for your porch wood railing, don’t leave the accuracy of placement up to a single measuring tool. You will want to cut or have cut a 3.5 inch spacer; I suggest you have at least two spacers, one for the bottom and one for the top. Never have a spacer larger than the 4 inches allowed by most building codes. Use a 2 inch x 4 inch piece of wood as a spacer for more accuracy.

Finally, to avoid any future issues when doing construction, it is always a good idea to check with your local building department to assure that you are in compliance with all local building requirements and codes.