I needed railing for my home’s balcony. I wanted composite PVC, because it is relatively maintenance-free. I bought the Veranda PVC Composite Railing from Home Depot. The project took Brennan and I a total of 19 hours. The night before we got materials for 3 hours at Home Depot and then spent 16 hours the next day (we started at 8:30am and wrapped at 12:30am the following morning). I went with black vinyl railing. It does look nice and is decently sturdy.
[Brennan — you absolutely rock. Thanks again for taking your one day off and making this happen.]
Supplies were roughly $1,000. The balcony is 20′ x 11′. There’s about the edge of the railing to the edge of the balcony. We put up 18′ of balcony facing the front, and then another 9′ on each side. So (5) 6′ rails, and another (2) 3′ rails [these we cut from a 6′ pack].
Overall, it’s not bad…. but there are issues you need to be aware of before starting the project to avoid the same mistakes we made:
- The boxes for the 6′ Stair Rail Kit and the 6′ Rail Kit, look way to similar. Be aware (because the precut baluster holes aren’t square for the stair kit).
- The proclaimed 6′ rails, are not necessarily 6′. They will likely need to be cut.
- The bottom rail and the top rail typically aren’t even the same size! They might be 5/8″ off or whatever, which is not good.
- The BIG issue you need to deal with first for the rails is that the precut baluster holes are not aligned (typically) for the top and bottom rail — you will need to line up the holes, and then cut the rails from one end to ensure they are lined up … and then whatever length you really need, cut off the other end…. this will ensure your balusters line-up.
- Read the instructions and ALWAYS start with putting the top rail in first, as it says. This wasn’t typical for my friend who has always started with the bottom rail first, but he has always used wood that he cuts.
- The ballusters come in packs of 6, yet each 6′ rail requires 13 ballusters — wtf.
- Use a circular saw for the cuts — you really want them completely straight.
- Have a drill and hopefully have a real square bit — as the ones included are garbage (they do work, but when you make a mistake — and you will — you’re going to destroy that garbage bit and your screws).
- We bought 4′ x 4’s, and 4′ x 4′ metal brackets. We used liquid nails between bracket and balcony floor, then screwed brackets in wtih 1 5/8″ screws (bought a box of them).
- We started by putting up all the posts — unsure if this was a good idea or not. We spaced them all 6′, although the post sleeves are probably 1/8″ on each side, so probably an additional 1/4″ should have been added to the equation. Don’t forget the 3.5″ for the 4′ x 4′.
- After the posts, you should start from a corner and work yourself around the entire balcony. Initially we started in the middle — not good.
Next project, I need balcony flooring. I’m likely buying Envirotile, which works out to about $3.11/sq ft — it’s made out of recycled tires. I also like the idea of wood, but it requires maintenance each year (which I’m trying to avoid) — IKEA has PLATTA Decking that works out to about $3.88/sq ft. Then there is this composite wood flooring that is real nice, but works out to about $9/sq ft(!!!) — http://www.handydeck.com/resideck.html.