Wooden spindles used to trim a porch not only add curb appeal, but also increase the value of your home by sometimes as much as 30% (See Reference 1). Researching the various designs and sizes of wooden spindles can help give you ideas of how to trim your porch.
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Many cities and townships have building codes for the correct height of spindles allowed for porches or balconies. Check with your local building supervisor to see if any apply in your area. The 20-inch high spindles can normally be used on porches that do not have code restrictions. Westernspindle.com sells solid wooden spindles in design styles of Revival, Victorian, Tuscan or Colonial (Reference 1). Westernspindle.com suggest using a 20-inch spindle with a 2 x 6 inch wide top rail, a 2 x 4 inch subrail and skirt, and a 3-inch toe space to give an overall top rail height of 30 inches (Reference 1). Adding decorative running trim and the similar Victorian era spandrels, or fancy brackets to the upper part of your porch, can emphasise your plain wooden spindles (Reference 2). A complete photo gallery of porches using spandrels and running trim can be found at vintagewoodworks.com.
The 26-inch spindles meet most building codes and are the most popular for porches. You can create a 36-inch total rail height with these plus a 2 x 6 inch top rail, a 2 x 4 inch subrail and skirt and a 3-inch toe space (Reference 1). Custom size spindles in sizes such as 28-inch can be made by some companies to accompany a large front porch and columns or pillars. Westernspindles.com displays a variety of porches using wooden spindles in its photo gallery (Reference 1).
Wooden spindles can be made from glue-laminated or solid wood, including cedar, redwood and the most popular, Douglas Fir, because of its durability. The spindles can be painted or stained to match your siding or trim colour. An interesting idea is to paint only a part of the spindle, such as the ball or round part, in a different colour than the rest of the spindle.
The 32-inch height offers a taller and possibly safer railing for porches higher off the ground or a balcony porch. These provide a 42-inch top rail height using the same size top rail, subrail and skirt as the other spindles. This size works well if you do not have a bottom rail or toe space but still want enough height. The spindles look best if they are spaced just a few inches apart and are the same size and design. You can mix and match with the top and subrail painted a different colour than the spindles.
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