How to Replace a Rotted Wood Porch Railing

Things You\’ll Need

  • Pre-built outdoor treated railing sections

  • 4-inch by 4-inch outdoor treated posts

  • 2-inch by 6-inch outdoor treated lumber for perimeter

  • EZ brackets & bolts

  • Circular saw

  • Hammer drill

  • Speed square

  • Chalk line

... Repaired porch railing. Image Credit: Debbie Williams

A common problem with older homes is porch railings that have become loose or rotten over time. This can be a hazard and should be repaired as soon as possible. While you must be careful and some knowledge of tool handling is required, this is a repair that most average homeowners can accomplish in a couple of hours.

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Step 1

... Most railings can be removed in sections. Image Credit: Debbie Williams

Remove the old railings and inspect the posts. You should be able to hammer the nails loose or remove the screws at the top and bottom of the rails at the posts and discard the railing in sections. Cut the posts off even with the decking if they need replaced and can't be removed entirely.

Step 2

... A chalk line keeps the alignment straight. Image Credit: Debbie Williams

The simplest method to replace posts is to use EZ brackets and 4-inch by 4-inch posts. These are available at most home improvement stores. Measure the length of porch railing needed and set one bracket on each end and at even intervals no more than 8 feet apart. Snap a chalk line to maintain a straight alignment.

Step 3

... A hammer drill speeds the bolt installation. Image Credit: Debbie Williams

Pre-drill the holes and bolt the brackets into the decking. Set in the 4-inch by 4-inch posts and install the bolts into the posts.

Step 4

... A speed square is an invaluable tool. Image Credit: Debbie Williams

Snap a chalk line from end to end to mark the height of the posts. Using a speed square, draw a pencil line at the marked height all the way around the each post.

Step 5

... Use care with handling the circular saw. Image Credit: Debbie Williams

Cut along the marks on each side of the posts using a circular saw. (Make sure the area is clear where the cut-off will fall.)

Step 6

... Cut between balusters or remove one according to your measurements. Image Credit: Debbie Williams

Measure the distance between the center of the posts and cut the railing sections to fit. Pre-drill holes in each end of the railing. Start the screws in the holes before moving the railing into place.

Step 7

... Remove a baluster if necessary for placement. Image Credit: Debbie Williams

Drive the screws into the posts, securing the railing in place. It might be necessary to remove a baluster from the railing section at the point where railing section attaches to the post.

Step 8

... A top plate makes the railing very secure and stable. Image Credit: Debbie Williams

Measure the distance of the perimeter of the railing and cut the 2-inch by 6-inch boards to fit, mitering the joints at the corners. Screw this top plate in place and secure the railing to the posts even further.

Step 9

... Stand back and enjoy your new railing! Image Credit: Debbie Williams

And you're finished. A beautiful railing — and a nice place to set your drinks to celebrate your project's completion!


Tie yourself to a safety line attached to the house if you are working more than 6 feet off the ground. Treated lumber must season before it can be painted.


Wear safety glasses when using a circular saw.