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Screen Porch Railing

Folks, this is a bit different from other questions so I thought to create a new port rather than tag on to an existing one.

I have just refinished a screen porch which is attached to the house, has a regular roof with shingles and is built on a deck type structure. I had to replace the old rotten support posts which are about 3.5" square and spaced about 2.5' apart. The screen material is in place. I am really pleased with the results. Part of the pleasure of it is the view of the garden but since it is probably 3.5 to 4' off the ground I want to make sure there is a railing. Trouble is I don't want that to mask everything.

I am contemplating putting up horizontal cables that we have seen on other decks. I am just starting to research the systems available but I am assuming I will have to drill smallish diameter holes though the support poles every 4" or so up to a standard height fence cap. The width of the porch is about 11' (5 supports). Does anyone have any thoughts on this? I could revert to regular wooden railings if needed and I think some of the newer cable fencing looks really good.

Incidentally if you are curios the original builder has simply used pine screen doors to wall the porch. They worked OK but rotted eventually and again I am not convinced they provided a strong enough barrier.


Re: Screen Porch Railing

Are you covered by a building inspection / code compliance ?

Re: Screen Porch Railing

At 3.5' or 4' above grade, you may not be able to do what you plan to do.

Your city must have special requirements for a hand rail. Go to your building department to find out, and do exactly as your code says.

Re: Screen Porch Railing

IIRC, the structural rigidity requirements for railings is the ability to stop a 200 lb person at a walking pace directed into the middle of each span perpendicularly. No form of normal screening will do this. The cable systems do look neat but I have questions of how well the posts will withstand the constant tension involved over time. I've installed some tempered glass panels for similar situations; costly but code-worthy and an awesome view. I have seen plexiglass panels used on TV shows but I think they'd scratch too easily.

Since you'll need to meet local codes anyway that is the place to ask.


Re: Screen Porch Railing

Cable systems can meet code. You need to work with a manufacturer. I suspect the system would be face applied to the wood supports rather than drilling holes through the posts. I've seen the holes drilled through steel posts, but never wood.

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