How to Replace a PVC Porch Railing

What You'll Need
Cordless drill with Philips head tip
Reciprocating saw
PVC rails
Construction adhesive
Manufacturer's instructions

For over 20 years, people have been enjoying the benefits of PVC porch railing components. PVC porch railings are particularly popular because they do not crack, warp or fade, and are easy to clean. PVC porch spindles come in a variety of shapes and sizes that can give your home a distinctive look. There are also many do-it-yourself PVC porch railing and deck railing systems which make adding vinyl railing straightforward. If the time has come for you to update the look of your porch, replacing the railing with a PVC product can add beauty and value to your home. Make sure you abide by any zoning ordinances that apply to changing or modifying your railing.

Step 1. Preparation: Removing Existing Railing

The first step is to remove the existing railing on your porch. There are 2 ways to remove porch railing. One way, which is good for long sections, is to cut the handrail and the bottom rail in the middle—essentially creating 2 pieces. Using a prybar, loosen any attachments to the porch floor and posts. Remove any screws or nails. Take out one side of the railing, and then the other.

The second way to remove an existing railing is to use a reciprocating saw to cut through any bolts, nails or screws that attach the side rails to the posts and floor. Then cut the section in half and remove each piece. This system works well in tight corners and minimizes damage to posts and surrounding areas. Dispose of old materials and railing properly.

Step 2. Choosing Your PVC Railing

The next step is to choose the style and system of PVC railing you would like to install. Most home improvement stores carry a line of PVC rails that are pre-assembled. For this article, I will assume that you are not replacing the posts of your porch. If you are replacing the posts, remember to support the roof with a temporary support. It's important to choose a railing that matches the style of your home and that meets building codes for your area. Never install vinyl or PVC railings too tight—they need room to expand. Consider that outside temperature when installing PVC railings, because a railing installed too tight in cold weather can bow considerably in summer.

Step 3. Installing the PVC Railing System

After you have the replacement PVC railings, pre-fit the pieces between the posts to see if any cutting needs to be done. If more than one pre-assembled railing is needed between posts, purchase additional PVC posts to install between the original porch posts. Measure the distance between the original porch posts. At the center of this distance, place the PVC post and install its bottom to the porch floor using screws. Cut both ends of the railing in equal measure so that it will not look lopsided when installed. Screw in same colored rail brackets to the posts on top and bottom. Remember to check with your county's building codes for the space allowed between the porch floor and the bottom railing and also for the height for the railing. Attach railing to the brackets. Work in this manner until all railings have been installed around the porch.