How far between balusters on our front porch railing? Screened porch.

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I've posted before about our front porch, asking whether we should use a short wall or a railing. I think the overwhelming majority of responses were for a railing. That seems right to me too. Now we're planning to screen the whole thing in because we live in Mosquitoland, Wisconsin. The problem I'm running into is that our porch is L-shaped and 52 feet across the wider part. That's the part that shows from the road. I'm seeing that balusters (mission posts) are to be placed 4" apart. Are you kidding? I think it's going to look like someone threw a bunch of toothpicks up there! Any advice out there? I'm just hating the thought of obstructing any of the view that we currently have from our unfinished porch, but it's time we get this project done. My contractor husband is trying to fit this in between jobs, so it's going to be a while until we have finished photos to show you. I'm posting a few pics so you can see what it's like at this stage. So the main questions are:
How thick should the straight, nothing fancy, balusters be on a 52' expanse of porch?
How far apart should they be, considering the fact that the whole thing is going to be screened in?
Should there be a beadboard ceiling, or should I leave the rafters open and paint it white?
Please ignore the mess. We're in construction.
Thanks so much for your advice and help! I really appreciate it! - Judy
www.cranberrymorning.blogspot.com
www.homemadesoapnsuch.etsy.com
q distance between balusters on front screned porch railing, outdoor living, porches, We re quite a distance from the road but this is the side 52 of porch on this side that faces the road
We're quite a distance from the road, but this is the side (52' of porch on this side) that faces the road.
q distance between balusters on front screned porch railing, outdoor living, porches, On the right side you ll see the shorter side of the L shaped porch
On the right side you'll see the shorter side of the L-shaped porch.
q distance between balusters on front screned porch railing, outdoor living, porches, This is part of our view from the front porch
This is part of our view from the front porch.
q distance between balusters on front screned porch railing, outdoor living, porches, I guess this is what Building Code doesn t want LOL the grandkids jumping from the porch onto the yard
I guess this is what Building Code doesn't want, LOL, the grandkids jumping from the porch onto the yard.
q distance between balusters on front screned porch railing, outdoor living, porches, Front porch on a rainy day I love standing out there when it s raining
Front porch on a rainy day. I love standing out there when it's raining!
q distance between balusters on front screned porch railing, outdoor living, porches, Our temporary railing for last summer s family reunion
Our temporary 'railing' for last summer's family reunion.
q distance between balusters on front screned porch railing, outdoor living, porches, Front porch at Christmas time
Front porch at Christmas time.
  11 answers
  • Sandy Wiltzius Morris Sandy Wiltzius Morris on Jun 04, 2015
    I see that you have small children about; I was going to suggest that you consult your local building codes. There are rules about how far apart they should be so that children cannot get their heads through, believe it or not! It's better to be safe than sorry so that in the future, if you sell, you don't have to go back and redo the whole thing! Beautiful house and porch, BTW! Jealous!

    • Judy Judy on Jun 04, 2015
      @Sandy Wiltzius Morris Thanks, Sandy. I know there is building code, but I guess I think it will look hideous to have as many balusters that close together on a 52' span. Got any ideas for something other than balusters? Maybe that should have been my question. Thanks so much for stopping in.

  • B. Enne B. Enne on Jun 04, 2015
    Nice house! Linda Reeves designer on House and Home said years ago to remain true to the style of the house. She had shown a farm house similar to yours, and had said (if memory serves me), that the style was meant to be without a railing. Do you feel you need it for safety, or did you just think it looked unfinished? If you want one, you could put glass panels like they use on beach front and wooded properties. They do not obstruct the view. Spindles are usually placed less that 4" apart to prevent a child's head, arm or leg from getting stuck. I personally would put the glass. An other option IMHO, would be to leave the railing off and extend the steps all around.

    • See 4 previous
    • Tina Tina on Jun 05, 2015
      According to local codes in my area, any porch over 24" off the ground must have a railing. And spindles cannot be more than 3.5" apart, so small children cannot stick their head through them.

  • Chris aka monkey Chris aka monkey on Jun 04, 2015
    @Judy i agree with you would look like a prison lol...there are wire systems that you could use and they would not block the view which is gorgeous i have lived in wi in appleton and they skeeters are horrid i think they wires could be strung between the posts you have hope this helps and good luck xx

    • Judy Judy on Jun 04, 2015
      @Chris aka monkey Thanks, Chris. I will check into the wires, but also want it to be somewhat in keeping with the 'style' of this house. I appreciate your input.

  • Lori T Lori T on Jun 04, 2015
    The railing could be cut with a pattern so they aren't boring.

    • Judy Judy on Jun 04, 2015
      @Lori T Thanks, Lori. I wonder what kind of pattern would be appropriate to this style of house.

  • Chris aka monkey Chris aka monkey on Jun 04, 2015
    @Judy hmm i just scrolled through your pics again and i like your temp rail you could do that easily and cheaply before you screen it in xx

    • Judy Judy on Jun 04, 2015
      @Chris aka monkey This is starting to look better all the time. The idea of a 36" high railing where the balusters are only 4 inches apart seems ridiculous! Thanks.

  • Chris aka monkey Chris aka monkey on Jun 04, 2015
    @Judy hi me again lol hope i can get these sites to copy here well i can't i googled old farmhouse porch railings then went to images and got a ton you can scroll through

  • Frank Frank on Jul 17, 2015
    I would guess if you're doing the work yourself and no permits and all you could do it with out railings but when or if you decide to sale you would need to get it up to code. Our deck is about the same height as your porch and instead of rails we had them install bench seating which complied with code here in Maryland. Love your porch and hope to have one like it on our next house.

  • Michael M Michael M on Jul 17, 2015
    Straight 2x2 spindles cannot have more the 4" space between. BUT...a railing is not required if the distance from porch to grade is 18" of less. SO...you could do a decorative rail and spindles if you want. I'm an architect.

  • Rus1058682 Rus1058682 on Jul 17, 2015
    Unlike most of the posts I see, I would like to suggest using a 36" rail, but using lattice instead of balusters. This can be painted to match the house, or made of vinyl and choose the color you want.. thanks.. TRB

  • Betty Miller Betty Miller on Jul 18, 2015
    I would check what widest width screening comes in and if screened do you have to have spindles. I wouldn't think so. You are going to want bug proof for top to bottom where you live. Don't know if you can get by with just framing for the screening. That would be my choice. What is code? If you do something now and isn't code, if and when you sell will have to change it.

    • Judy Judy on Jul 19, 2015
      Thank you Betty. We have decided to screen only the north, shorter, part of the L-shaped porch, floor to ceiling. We're using Screeneze, a very strong screen which will require no balusters or additional framing, so no blocking the view. On the main part, we are going to sandwich woven wire between 2x4s with a to rail. We didn't want anything heavy obstructing any of the view. Hopefully in a few more weeks it will be done and I can post photos.

  • Rus1058682 Rus1058682 on Jul 19, 2015
    Here is something I forgot, I have the "google sketch up" program, and noticed you can copy a picture like those you have posted above. You can then use the tools and paint to 'draw' the rail system you like best. It is pretty simple to do, and it can give you different ideas to work with. Hope this helps. R