April 9, 2013 - Curved Porch Railing: the Ultimate in Exterior Architectural Millwork

 

Curved, rounded, radius rail.  By whatever name, there’s no better accent for a your rounded porch, deck, or veranda.

Woodbury Georgia, curved railings

Two-story rounded verandas with exterior deck rails.

Railings for rounded porches are made on a custom, made-to-order basis.  This is because there is rarely two rounded porches or decks with the same radius (which is also part of the appeal: a one-of-a-kind porch!).

There are several ways to make curved railing.  With rails made of synthetic materials, like our Polyurethane line, the mold is made to your specific radius and dimensions.  For those looking for authentic wood rail, there are a few different options that range from great to terrible.

The most common is to take very wide boards and cut the curve out of the board.  There are several problems to this method.  First, because the length and radius is limited by the width of the board, the builder will need to splice several pieces together creating weak spots and unsightly joints.  The second problem is that when a curve it cut from a straight-grained board, it exposes the end grain on what is now the side of the railing.  End grain is more susceptible to moisture and is more difficult to mill to a smooth finish.

Another method is to steam bend the wood.  This method is sometimes used in furniture making.  Because of the size and mass of the railings this type of architecture requires, this method is unpractical.

We feel the very best method for this application is what we call the “bent lamination” method.  First, we make a “form” or “template” according to your specific measurements and porch radius.  Then the wood is cut into strips thin enough to bend around that radiused form.  An exterior wood epoxy is applied to all the strips before they are bound to the form and allowed to cure.  After milling with special equipment made for curved moulding, the result is a rail that is very strong, has no joints, has no exposed end grain, and is identical in size and shape to the straight rail portions of your railings.  While this method is a little more labor intensive, we think it will be worth it for our customers in the decades to come.

 

So how do you go about ordering curved porch railing?  It’s easier than you think!

Curved porch railing measurements

You only need two measurements: the length of the curve and the height.  From these two numbers, we can determine the other figures mathematically (radius, circumferential length, etc.).  Note: make sure you measure to the same point on the curve for both measurements.  For example: if you measure the length to the OUTSIDE of the rail, make sure to also measure the height to the OUTSIDE of the rail.

Some customers feel more comfortable if they also send us a template with the curve drawn on it, made of construction paper, etc.  This certainly doesn’t hurt, however unless it is a rigid template, there are room for errors on a paper template.  We have made many rails by using the math only, and have never had a problem with this method.

So whether you prefer wood or synthetic, just take those two measurements and give us a call.  We’ll get you started with strikingly beautiful curved railing.

 

Curved Porch RailingMassachusetts Curved Railing

 

 

 

 

 

2 Responses to “Curved Porch Railing: the Ultimate in Exterior Architectural Millwork”

  1. janice white says:

    how much do the curved rails run? I have four sections of 70in length by 23in height. interested in wood?

    • Thanks for the question. Curved rail is made to order, and is priced upon request specifically to your porch. The math on your porch is as follows:
      Length: 70″
      Height: 23″
      Radius: 38 1/8″
      Length of each Arc: 88 5/8″
      Angle subtended by each arc: 133 degrees
      We would make your four sections of rail each at 8′ of length (96″), which allows a little length for the installer to “tie-in” to your posts, newels, or columns.
      We’ll send a formal estimate to your email address following this post. Please don’t hesitate to email or call with questions, adjustments, or to place your order. Thanks!

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