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The porch is often the first part of the home that a visitor sees, so when choosing a porch handrail, you want to choose an attractive, sturdy, and well-constructed rail that will last a long time. Choose the type of material you will use for your porch handrail first; wood, metal, vinyl, and composite materials are all popular choices for handrails, and they all come with their own sets of pros and cons. Then choose the style of porch handrail that will fit the aesthetic of your home. This may mean choosing a simple design or a more elaborate piece that is painted or otherwise colored.
Determine if your porch handrail will be load bearing. If it is, you may want to choose a sturdy material such as wood, steel, or even iron for your handrail, as these materials are meant to bear weight. If the porch handrail will not bear weight, lighter weight materials such as vinyl can be used. Vinyl is a good choice for a porch handrail because it is low maintenance and long-lasting. It can also be easily cleaned, and high quality vinyl will not fade, yellow, or buckle in direct sunlight. Wood is a good choice because it is easy to install, it can be modified easily upon installation, and it can be ornately carved.
The design and color of your porch handrail will help enhance the look of your porch. Choose a design that fits the overall aesthetic of the home. This may mean choosing an ornately carved wooden handrail, or a very simple iron handrail with straight, clean lines. Vinyl rails can match the color of the house easily, though a vinyl rail may look out of place if the rest of the porch is made from wood or metal. Simple wooden rails can also be painted different colors to change the look of a porch.
Many handrails now come in kits that are easier to install and maintain. Vinyl porch rail kits usually feature interlocking pieces as well as vinyl covers that can wrap around existing wooden posts to create a consistent look throughout the porch. Enclosed porches may benefit from wooden posts that can be modified relatively easily so screens or windows can be installed. Metal porch rails tend to be more expensive than other materials, especially high-grade metals, but the aesthetics and strength of metal rails is a distinct advantage.
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