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Porch Railing, Please Help!

Hello to all.

I have a problem. We are about to embark on a restoration project of our exterior, and I am stumped on the porch. We have a "Queen Anne Farmhouse" built roughly 1880 in western Iowa. It seems early (possibly started construction late 1870's) due to the fact that it has a mixture of details, mostly QA elements, but seemingly simplified. It is non-symmetrical, with a wraparound porch. Now, I truly believe that the porch raling and balusters are not original, as the balusters are tightly spaced and square. We would absolutely love to ditch the railing altogether, but we'd really like to know if it was common to leave the porch railing off entirely when these were built. There is an historic landmark home near us that was built around the same time, and it has no railing, but we want to be as authentic as possible. We cannot find any pictures of the house before the 1970's, and we have only anecdotal evidence in that nobody remembers a railing before 1957. I am befuddled! Also, would it have been common to paint the decking of the porch? How about the bead ceiling? And on that subject, can anyone recommend a good, historically accurate, T&G decking material and where I can source replacement ceiling bead boards?

A huge debt of gratitude. . .

Re: Porch Railing, Please Help!

Check out www.vintagewoodworks.com and look at their beaded ceiling. It may help you with your project.

Good Luck.

Re: Porch Railing, Please Help!

No railings was quite common as was a much narrower porch than seems to be standard today. Painted deck and porch ceiling was also common. Yellow pine T&G decking can usually be found at most lumber yards as well as PT if you want a loner life. If you are replacing only part of the decking and need a size not available at the lumber yard just about any woodworker can run some for you. Bead board may also be found at some lumber yards or can be run by a woodworker or by yourself if you are handy and purchase a router table, the right bits, and the lumber.

southern charm
Re: Porch Railing, Please Help!

Yes painting the porch floor was a common practice. If replacing the flooring there is a product called Tendura and has been used on historical homes. It was bought by Correct Deck and is now sold as "Correct Porch" (www.correctporch.com) I have installed Tendura on old houses and it looked great and very low maintenance.It is a composite.

As for the porch ceiling they were typically fir or heart pine beaded porch ceiling boards (here in Maryland). They were usually finished with spar-varnish or shellac but some seem to have started with paint. Of the porch ceilings I have worked on 95% I believe started with varnish or shellac. You should be able to find vertical grain beaded porch ceiling boards at a good lumber yard and should be very close to the original size.

I hope this helps and good luck with your project. As far as the railing goes I would check with your local historical society. And building code department to see if one is required.

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