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  1. #16
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    St Louis, Mo for the past 25 years
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    7,615

    Default Re: wood railings and baulsters on porches

    Quote Originally Posted by S.Joisey View Post
    Are those panels similar to what's in the pic? We call them "banjo boards" here.

    I haven't come up with a way to fasten them that makes me happy. Using a domino sounds promising.
    I have seen those but never repaired or done those new. How are they originally installed? Asking because I am not always sure the new way of doing things is all that we think it is. Those types of railings have been around a lot longer than Domino or biscuits so not sure I want to be the guy trying to invent the wheel again.

    I am guessing they could be installed with a nail from the top of the rail or else toenailed from below. I did run into one rail that had the groove where the parts sit filled in on each side of the baluster. It trapped the baluster in place so it could not go side to side plus filled the natural gutter that the groove made. On the one I am referring to the filler pieces were made in a peak fashion so water drained away on both sided of the lower rail.

  2. #17
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    sonoma ,calif
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    1,861

    Default Re: wood railings and baulsters on porches

    "Banjo boards " yes this client has something like that .presently in a dado .though on the back exposed deck i am considering peaking the center/ beveling the edges a bit so center is high .then a domino to hold in place .I have seen them just nailed on a flat [lower] rail .but did not see much long term in that .i saw another old house with 1 1/2 thick balisters nested on a peaked lower rail .This required the end of the balaster to be trimmed to fit .Which seemed like a lot of hand work and I did not like those big chunky balasters .

  3. #18
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    down the shore
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    2,253

    Default Re: wood railings and baulsters on porches

    Quote Originally Posted by m beezo View Post
    I have seen those but never repaired or done those new. How are they originally installed? Asking because I am not always sure the new way of doing things is all that we think it is. Those types of railings have been around a lot longer than Domino or biscuits so not sure I want to be the guy trying to invent the wheel again.

    I am guessing they could be installed with a nail from the top of the rail or else toenailed from below. I did run into one rail that had the groove where the parts sit filled in on each side of the baluster. It trapped the baluster in place so it could not go side to side plus filled the natural gutter that the groove made. On the one I am referring to the filler pieces were made in a peak fashion so water drained away on both sided of the lower rail.
    I've seen three ways of mounting the boards.

    The first is with a dado cut in the center of the rails which the banjo boards fit into. It traps water, so things rot out pretty fast. Sometimes there will be holes drilled in the groove for drainage, but that only goes so far. I've seen guys cut fillets for the groove, but they only get soaked with water and make things worse.

    Another way is with a split rail. Same idea as the groove, only the groove goes all the way through. So instead of a 2x rail, trap the ends of the boards between two 1x's. The water drains right through. Downside is the ends of the banjo boards eventually rot anyway where they are caught between the rails. It just takes a bit longer.

    The other is run a rabbet in the bottom rail, with the high side to the outside. Then fasten the banjo boards in the rabbit. Water can drain out of the back side. The high side of the rabbet keeps the boards from pushing out. However, they don't have as much strenght if they get pushed inward.

    Guys more and more are making these kinds of railings out of pt wood. If you take the time to dry it first, you can pick out pieces that haven't cupped or twisted. The idea, I think is "If I make it out of pt, then I don't have to worry about the drainage details".

    Not sure I buy into it. The wood may last longer, but paint will still peel off of soggy wood, pressure treated or not.

  4. #19
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    St Louis, Mo for the past 25 years
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    7,615

    Default Re: wood railings and baulsters on porches

    have you considered making them out of PVC. I just have to wonder how strong they would be on some of the thinner pieces.

    I am looking at a rail that was installed with the rabbet detail and agree with the not being too secure on the one side. About half of them have been knocked loose by the soccer ball of just kids hanging on the fence and kicking things. I mean the nails are always finish nails and they cannot be too long or they will stick out the back side of the railing board. So just a system that seems to me to not be a whole lot of good ways to improve it if you do not want the double rail system.

  5. #20
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    sonoma ,calif
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    1,861

    Default Re: wood railings and baulsters on porches

    well I just got a plan for the short run I am repairing from your post .They presently rest in a dado .I will run another small dado in the center of existing dado to help collect and get rid of water .
    Problem I am seeing with the drain holes is they fill with dirt .I will make them 3/8" or so this time .

  6. #21
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    down the shore
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    2,253

    Default Re: wood railings and baulsters on porches

    Quote Originally Posted by steve demetrick View Post
    Beezo,
    Whether fixing old rails or fabricating new ones, I treat all of the cut ends with a penetrating epoxy sealer like http://www.smithandcompany.org/CPES/. Then prime with a good oil based primer and topcoat with a latex paint. I like to paint all my parts all 6 side before assembly. The epoxy seals the end grain far better than just paint and primer, I have several pine door surrounds going on almost 15 years now that were sealed this way and they don't show any signs of aging.
    I personally think that work in wood such as this should be installed with care to last generations. Unlike the plastic and most composite products, wood can last forever with basic maintenance, but only if it is designed, fabricated and installed with care.

    -Steve
    Steve- You've got me thinking.

    Wouldn't it be better to forget the primer and paint for the end grain, and just epoxy the parts together?

    For instance, I use West System, so it would be easy enough to use a thickened version when joining the balusters to the rail so the connection is completely filled. There would be a bit of a mess with the squeeze out, but the connection would be sealed.

    One of my concerns with just sealing end grain is you still have penetrations from fasteners. In old railings, I see rot not only in the ends of balusters, but in the bottom rail where the fastener goes through.

    I'm thinking that bedding the balusters in epoxy would prevent that.

    Calvin - I'll have to check out the Dolfinite. The marine supplys here should have it. Approaching exterior wood with marine techniques is certainly a good strategy.

  7. #22
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    sonoma ,calif
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    Default Re: wood railings and baulsters on porches

    what about expansion .would the expoxy let the boards move .

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