How to Build a 2×6 Porch Rail – Part 5

This project is continued from How to Build a 2×6 Porch Rail – Part 4.

Install the Porch Top Rail

Here’s a close up view of the 2×6 cedar porch rail sitting on the 2×2 support picket before fastening with screws:

Build a 2x6 Porch Rail: 2x2 Support Picket against the Wall

Build a 2×6 Porch Rail: 2×2 Support Picket against the Wall

Complete view of the porch rail sitting on the corner post and wall supports:

Build a Porch Rail: Top Rail Sitting on the Corner Post and Wall Supports

Build a Porch Rail: Top Rail Sitting on the Corner Post and Wall Supports

Fasten the Porch Top Rail to the End Supports

The 2×6 top rail is fastened to the 2×4 support block by drilling 1/8″ strain relief holes to prevent splitting the cedar board, then three (3) corrosion resistant 2-1/2″ screws are driven. Take care to the drill and set the screws vertically so as not to break through the face of the 2×4 support block, which would weaken the joint.

2x6 Porch Rail Construction: Drill Pilot Holes for Wood Screws

2×6 Porch Rail Construction: Drill Pilot Holes for Wood Screws

1/8″ holes are drilled in the 2×4 side rail for strain relief so as not to split the wood, then the top rail is fastened to the wall picket with two 2-1/2″ corrosion resistant screws:

Build a Porch Rail: 2x4 Side Rail Fastened to the 2x2 Support Picket

Build a Porch Rail: 2×4 Side Rail Fastened to the 2×2 Support Picket

Take care to drill the holes and set the screws straight for maximum joint strength.

2×4 Bottom Rail and 2×2 Picket Construction

The 2×4 bottom rail is set 36″ below the subrail (which is the length of a 2×2 picket), plumbed with a level and fastened to the 2×2 support picket with two screws just like the side rail in the above photo.

The other end of the bottom rail is fastened to the 8×8 porch post with two 3″ stainless steel screws set at a slant in a toenail fashion. To set the toe screws:

  • Drill a shallow 1/8″ hole straight into the face of the subrail with a 1/8″ diameter drill bit. The purpose of the starter hole is to prevent the drill bit from sliding across the face of the 2×4 bottom rail when drilling at a slant. Try it first on a scrap of wood and you’ll see what I mean.
  • Slant the drill bit 45° in the starter hole and drill the pilot holes for the toe screws.
Build a Porch Rail: Install the 2x4 Bottom Rail and 2x2 Pickets

Build a Porch Rail: Install the 2×4 Bottom Rail and 2×2 Pickets

Prepare the pickets by marking and drilling 1/8″ stress relief holes for the 2-1/2″ screws in the 2×2 pickets.

Set the first picket, check for plumb with the carpenters level and fasten it with 2-1/2″ screws to the side- and bottom rails. The 2×4 spacer block is perfect for setting the pickets on 5 inch centers with a 3-1/2″ gap between pickets.

Build a Porch Rail: Installing the 2x2 Pickets

Build a Porch Rail: Installing the 2×2 Pickets

Every 5 pickets or so, check the picket is plumb with the carpenter’s level to prevent drifting off the vertical. The 2×6 cedar porch rail with after installing the pickets:

Build a 2x6 Porch Rail: Pickets Fastened to the Rail

Build a 2×6 Porch Rail: Pickets Fastened to the Rail

Caulk the Joints

I caulked the joints along the wall and 8×8 porch post with white GE Silicone II Paintable Silicone caulk to prevent rain water from wicking in behind the boards which would promote rot. Click on this photo for a full size view to see the caulk lines:

2x6 Porch Rail Construction: Caulk the Joints

2×6 Porch Rail Construction: Caulk the Joints

I also placed a dab of caulk on all the screw heads, smoothed the caulk and painted the caulk lines.

Finished 2×6 Cedar Porch Rail

Here’s several photos of the finished project – it turned out really nice if I do say so myself. I tested the rail with my 215 lb weight, leaning, pulling, pushing and sitting on it and found it to be very rigid and strong.

2x6 Cedar Porch Rail Construction

2×6 Cedar Porch Rail Construction

Outside view of the completed 2×6 porch rail:

2x6 Porch Rail Construction: Exterior View

2×6 Porch Rail Construction: Outside View

The porch rail improves the house and gives it a “finished” look:

Build a 2x6 Porch Rail - House View

Build a 2×6 Porch Rail – House View

All the rail needs now is a couple of flower pots or maybe a flower box.

Hope this helps,

Bob Jackson

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