Front Porch Railing: Remove It or Repair It?

Front Porch Railing: Remove It or Repair It?

Front porch railing — some homeowners love it, some hate it, and some absolutely need it.  

This railing can make your front porch feel cozy or claustrophobic. Whether or not you need it is up to you and your style.


White front porch railing with green top rail
There are four basic components of front porch railing.

What are the Parts in Front Porch Railing?

A front porch railing has four basic components: posts, a top rail, a bottom (base) rail and balusters. 

The posts are the thickest vertical planks of wood that hold your horizontal top and bottom rails. 

The balusters are the vertical slats of wood between the top and bottom rails.


Rotting wood front porch balusters
If your wood railing is rotting, you can remove it, or repair it.

Removing Railing

If your front porch railing seems more like confinement than a retreat, you can remove it to have a clear and open view of your yard. 

Also, if your railing is rotting, that’s even more reason to get rid of it. The most common cause for a rail to rot is the bottom of the railing not being painted while it’s being built.

Even though the bottoms of the balusters aren’t visible, it’s still vital to paint them. The unpainted wood will soak up water like a paper towel and accelerate rot.

Also, if the railing is made with untreated wood, this could further accelerate rotting.

First, you’ll need a mallet or hammer. Knock out the balusters down one by one, and then remove the top and bottom railings.  

After removing the front porch railing, apply putty and sand the columns so it’s like they were never there, to begin with.

This railing was easier to remove because the base railing was a few inches off of the ground. If you don’t have a base railing and your balusters are embedded in the concrete, you’ll need to get a utility knife to dig out the wood railing within the concrete, then patch the hole with a concrete patcher. 


Repairing a porch bottom rail with plywood
This method for repairing front porch railing will also strengthen the balusters.

Repair Front Porch Railing

One thing to consider if you are thinking about removing front porch railing is safety. Does the railing keep children out of harm’s way?

If safety is your concern, you need to make sure your rails are functional. The purpose of front porch railing is to be held onto, so it should be able to hold your weight.

Also, what if you need it in the future?

Now more than ever, people are desiring to age in place, so will this railing be useful later on? Or, do you have an aging relative who could be living with you sometime in the future?

Keep railing height in mind. To be compliant with the American Disabilities Act, the front porch railing must be 34-38 inches high.

If you want to keep the railing for these reasons but it’s in bad condition, you can repair it.

Create two plywood forms and clamp them on the top and bottom of the rail. Then, use a plastic putty knife, and apply auto body filler to the front of the rail. Paint the forms to match your railing.

Watch ‘Tip for Repairing Damaged Porch Railing‘ here.


Front of a house with grey shutters, ferns and a rocking chair plus a pine-straw garden bed
Having the right type of plants can transform the look of your front porch.

Other Ways to Add Front Porch Curb Appeal

Whether you decide to ditch the railing or keep it for safety reasons, there are more ways to add some curb appeal to your front porch.

Change up the color scheme. A new paint color can elevate your home’s exterior. Paint shutters and the front door for a punch of fresh color.  

If the concrete floor of your porch is looking a little dull, add some character to it with a paint stencil. Watch ‘How to Stencil a Pattern on a Concrete Porch‘ to learn how to do it.

Finally, replace overgrown shrubs with lower plants spread out in a larger bed to cover a wider area.

Watch the video above to see what a difference these changes make!


Further Reading

How to Get Started with Vegetable Companion Planting

How to Get Started with Vegetable Companion Planting

Some plants grow better together.

Companion planting is an ancient practice where two different plants, often vegetables, are planted together to benefit one or both of them. Because of that, this simple gardening technique will have you enjoying a harvest you’ve only ever dreamed of.

One of the best examples of companion planting is the Three Sisters method, according to the Master Gardners of San Diego County. Centuries ago, early American colonists observed Native Americans planting corn, pole beans and squash in the same plot. Contrarily, Europeans would typically plant these three plants in separate beds. Planting the three together not only conserved garden space but also benefited one another:

  • Corn provided support for the bean vines as they grew.
  • Beans, which have symbiotic bacteria on their roots, are “nitrogen fixers” and added this essential macronutrient back into the soil for the benefit of other plants, especially the corn.
  • The squash leaves provided shade and increased soil moisture retention while discouraging pests with their prickly leaves.

This biodiversity helps each crop grow to its full potential. If you’re looking to find your plant a companion, don’t worry — you’re not limited to these three sisters.

Deciding which plants go together is no sweat at all. All it takes is a little research! Refer to this helpful companion planting chart for an in-depth look at all the plants that you should and shouldn’t plant together.


Marigolds and tomatoes make the best neighbors when companion planting. (vandervelden/Getty Images Signature)

Companion Planting Do’s

The most grown crops — tomatoes, corn, beans and squash — go great together.

Planting marigolds and tomatoes in close proximity helps repel predatory bugs that like eating tomatoes and spreading blight.

Squash and corn go great together because corn provides some necessary afternoon shade to the growing squash.

Beans and corn also make a perfect pair because the corn acts as a natural trellis for the beans — giving them a structured place to grow upward and climb!


Some plants don’t make great neighbors, so refer to this guide when choosing which plants to pair. (Dcwcreations/Getty Images)

Companion Planting Don’ts

While planting certain plants together does help growth, some plants are bullies towards others — acting just like the nasty bugs, weeds and soil disease that are also trying to harm your plants.

For example, planting garlic and onions near beans is a big no-no. Both absorb nutrients from the soil that will stunt — and inevitably kill — the beans. Watch out for bullies like these!


Japanese beetle on a green leaf.
Some plants will draw the attention of pests, like this Japanese beetle, away from your prized produce. (PaulReevesPhotography/Getty Images)

Tips for Deterring Pests

Pam Zaklan, an Oregon State University Extension Service Master Gardener, offers these tips to those who want to keep pests out of their companion planting garden:

  • Use Four O’clock flowers to attract Japanese beetles out of roses.
  • Plant mustard to deter cabbage worms and harlequin bugs from cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts.
  • Garlic deters rabbits as well as tree borers, aphids, cabbage looper, codling moths, Japanese beetles, snails, carrot root flies, ants and cabbage maggots. What’s more, it’s especially beneficial when planted near, roses, cucumbers, peas, lettuce or celery.
  • Plant spearmint and peppermint to attract bees and repel black flea beetles, ants, mosquitoes, white cabbage butterflies, aphids, and cabbage maggots. Do not plant mint near parsley. Plant mints in containers as they can easily get out of control.
  • For squash bugs, plant mint, chives, garlic, onion, tansy, radishes, nasturtiums, marigolds and bee balm near and among vines of winter and summer squash.

Watch this Backyard Smart video to learn about companion planting and take your first steps into a wider world of gardening.

The more you fall in love with having a great backyard, the more you realize how much you don’t know. Exmark’s Backyard Smart answers the lawn-and-garden questions homeowners are looking for.


Further Reading

DIY ‘Mix and Match’ Patio Project

DIY ‘Mix and Match’ Patio Project

As most people know, one home improvement project often leads to another. After Lisa Young and her husband repainted their home exterior, suddenly the concrete perimeter foundation looked ugly. That’s when Young found SpreadStone Decorative Concrete Resurfacing Kits and got hooked on Daich Coatings DIY projects.

For the foundation perimeter, she chose the Lake Rock color of SpreadStone. Once that was complete, she moved on to revitalizing her front patio.

“I love the results and had fun using the Daich Coatings product for the foundation,” says Young, a resident of Boulder Creek, Calif. “I wanted to achieve different colorations, so I bought several individual containers to ‘mix and match’ my own color combinations. By using the bone primer and dolphin, ivory and cool grey, I was able to get the variety of realistic colors I wanted.”

Creating a Flagstone Patio

For her project, Young started with assistance from her husband for the pressure washing — then she did the remainder of the project herself.

“After laying on the primer, I used painter’s tape to create the grout lines,” says Young. “First I rolled on, then troweled on, the SpreadStone. I wanted the texture of a flagstone finish.”

Relying on YouTube online tutorials, Young says the project was exceptionally easy. “The hardest part was actually laying the flagstone-shaped lines with the painter’s tape,” relates Young. “I was just impatient to get to the fun part!

“I used the roller for the first layer of SpreadStone, alternating colors. I then used a plastic trowel to add layers and texture. Finally, once that was dry I used a satin acrylic sealer. The result is stunning. It matches a similar flagstone in our backyard.”

Project = High ROI

The pre-mixed, factory-tinted SpreadStone coating system locks onto concrete to create a surface with a stunning decorative appeal and outstanding performance. Every kit (available in two sizes, to cover either 100- or 400-square-feet of space) contains primer, base coat, accent coat, clear sealer, stone texture roller and quarter-inch grout line stencil tape. Individual quart-, gallon- and 5-gallon containers of the textured coating are available in 11 different colors.

“The cost versus value is incredible for the kit,” says Young. “To be able to transform the patio in a weekend for such a low cost, especially when compared to other options, is so worth it. I’d totally rate this as a ‘steal of a deal!”

And how does Young rate the finished product? “It’s a definite 10!” says Young. “The neighbors like it, and the realistic flagstone look has truly enhanced the overall curb appeal of our home. Next up, I’m moving indoors to use a SpreadStone Countertop Kit on our kitchen backsplash tiles!”

Daich Coatings primers and decorative concrete products are available online at Lowe’sHome HardwareThe Home Depot® or online at daichcoatings.com/buy_daich.html.

Further Reading

Essential for Outdoor Activities and Home Storage: Scepter Water Cans

Essential for Outdoor Activities and Home Storage: Scepter Water Cans

Off-roading through the mountains. Camping under autumn leaves. Or simply getting your home ready to handle possible home emergencies. Each situation demands people be prepared. An essential part of that preparation is having sufficient amounts of clean water.

 “Whether you’re traveling away from home or getting your home ready for possible storm problems, it’s critical to have extra containers filled with drinking water,” says Daniel Marshall, vice president of marketing and business development with Scepter. “We make two different types of five-gallon water containers. Whether you need a container with extra durability for outdoor activities or an easy-to-use at-home container, we’ve got you covered.”

Durable Drinking Water Containers

Made from rugged high-density polyethylene, the 5-gallon Scepter Military Water Containers are BPA free, which keeps chemicals, odors and tastes out of your water. The corrosion- and fungus-resistant containers keep water clean and safe. The best-in-class water cans also withstand extreme weather conditions.

For fast use, the easy-to-carry Military Water Cans can empty up to five gallons of water in under seven seconds through the four-inch-wide cap opening. The rugged containers are available in American Sand and American Green colors.

“These are the same reliable containers used by NATO allied forces in the field for more than 30 years,” says Marshall. “They’re virtually indestructible, making them ideal for boating, camping and sporting activities.

Water for Home Use

When needing to store extra water at home, the Scepter Potable Water Container is the perfect choice. The light blue 5-gallon can features an easy-pour spout for filling up a cup or small bottle. When not in use, the spout stores conveniently inside the unit. 

The BPA-free, durable design of the water container makes it flexible for both using and storing. “When you’re thinking of saving water at home for emergencies, this is the container you want to use,” says Marshall. “This can is also ideal to take along in your Jeep or car when taking a day trip, hiking or going to a location where you want to make certain you have clean, drinkable water.”

Made in North America, Scepter Military Water Cans are available from Amazon, Walmart®, Grainger®, Tech Supply and Services, Bottom Line Military Sales, Lexington Container Company, DS Tactical and JerryCan.ee.  Visit scepter.com for more information.

Further Reading

Message to Aging Americans: Protect Your Hands

Message to Aging Americans: Protect Your Hands

As an important aspect of Healthy Aging® Month in September, Scepter® reminds consumers to re-evaluate the products they use around the home. Seeking out easy-to-open and simple-to-use products can relieve the pressure and strain on aging wrists and hands.

“As we grow older, we need to look for products that are more ergonomically comfortable,” says Daniel Marshall, vice president of marketing and business development with Scepter. “The addition of electric jar openers and can openers to the kitchen, grab bars in bathrooms, and extension reach tools all around the house make aging an easier task.”

Easing Up Outdoors

For homeowners who are actively involved in outdoor yard work using gas-powered tools, Marshall recommends the easy-to-operate Scepter® SmartControl fuel containers.

“SmartControl containers were designed for comfortable operation,” says Marshall. “Our award-winning containers are ideal for people of all ages. The ‘squeezing action’ required to use the Scepter container is much easier than twisting a spout or holding down a button on other types of fuel containers.”

With a single motion, the user simply presses the lever up on the SmartControl container to unlock the child safety feature. Then, with the palm of the hand, the person squeezes the large button. The first squeeze is done when upright to vent the container. Next, the nozzle gets placed over the tank. A second gentle squeeze allows users to pour just the right amount of fuel.

Whether fueling up leaf blowers, generators or weed whackers, SmartControl containers — available in 1-, 2- and 5-gallon sizes — are a smart option for people of all ages. The 5-gallon gas container also comes with a rear handle for easy balancing and operation.

Fuel Your Passion

 “We should never count energetic seniors as ‘down and out’ from life’s activities,” says Marshall. “Instead, they’re fueling their passions of boating, motorcycling, jet skiing and other activities. The key is to do this as safely as possible. That’s where the SmartControl containers come into play.”

The rugged Scepter containers are Made in North America of safe high-density polyethylene. The units are designed to substantially exceed ASTM and CPSC minimum standards. Each product includes child safety locks and a flame mitigation device for added protection.

Recognized by This Old House magazine as a “Top 20 Best New Product of 2019” in the Lawn & Garden category, SmartControl containers are also the recipient of the “Best in Class” Award at the 2018 National Hardware Show. Visit scepter.com for more information.

Further Reading