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!

measure a curve HR

You only need two measurements: the width of the curve and the height.  From these two numbers, we can determine the other figures mathematically (radius, arc length, angle subtended, 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

 

 

 

 

 

10 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!

  2. Bob Macko says:

    Entry way to house, 7steps, bottom step 7′ long top step 4′ long 7.5 rise 11″ run 50″ to top of porch deck total run 76″ from house need newal posts @ ballasters also

  3. Bob Macko says:

    Each step has 3″ overhang

  4. Wade Adams says:

    I would like a price for a deck I built The deck I built was done using a swing arm and router so it an exact 92 1/4″ Radius to the center of the post it is a perfect half circle and will require 4 equal sections as for the post they will be 4×4 doug fir with 5 1/2″ mitered sleeves slipped over

    • Thanks for the question Wade. Yes, we can help with your curved railing project. Based on your information, your railing is as follows:

      92 1/2″ Center Radius, 180 degree arc, made in 4 equal sections of the following:
      Length of each arc: 72 7/16″
      Width of each arc: 70 5/8″
      Height of each arc: 7″
      Angle subtended by each arc: 45 degrees

      Your estimate has been sent to your email address. Thanks again for the opportunity to help with your project.

  5. mike motsinger says:

    I would like a price on a curved wood porch railing. The run is 228 inches and the height is 83inches. There are 6 posts. thanks

    • Thanks for the request for estimate Mike. The math on your curved railing breaks down as follows:
      Width of arc: 228″
      Height of arc: 83″
      Radius: 119 3/4″
      Length of arc: 301 1/2″
      Angle subtended by arc: 144 degrees
      Make in 7 equal sections, 4′ arc length each
      ***Custom to specify if the above measurements are to the INSIDE, CENTER, or OUTSIDE of the rail***

      We’ll send a detailed estimate to your email following this message. Please don’t hesitate to email or call with questions, adjustments, or to place your order.

  6. Mark says:

    I would like a estimate of top and bottom rails for curved section of porch. I have recovered the 100 yr spindles and will want to re-use them.

    The porch dimensions
    Height = 12 1/4 inch top rail and 13 3/8 inch bottom rail
    Width = 63 3/4 inch
    Currently there are 15 spindles at 25 inches high and 14 1/2 inch turned length, approx 5 inch on center. The porch is an at grade victorian so it does not meet the 30 inch high for code rails of spindles.

    It appears the top/bottom rail were made custom – one offs. Do you think the dimensions should be the same and the rail may have flexed enough to explain the difference?

    I set up plumb lines and tacked nails in the center of the rails for these measurements.

    • Thanks for the inquiry Mark. While we’re not familiar with the specifics of your existing rail, it is possible the arc has changed slightly over the years. We would recommend that you correct them to one consistent arc during your remodel.

      We offer curved railing in our standard railing profiles only, as can be seen HERE. Assuming the average height of your top and bottom rails (12 13/16″), the math on your curved rail is as follows:

      Width of arc: 63 3/4″
      Height of arc: 12 13/16″
      Radius: 46 1/16″
      Length of arc: 70 7/16″
      Above measurements are to the CENTER of the rail
      Make one section of rail at 6′ arc length

      You’ll receive an estimate following this message for our most popular system, the 6″ class 4-piece Porch Rail System. Let us know if you’d like that changed to something different.

Leave a Reply