Porch redo, need advice and good railings!
Our 1920s house is not beautiful, but it is wonderful! The main part of it was made from an old post and beam barn from up the hill, with an addition on the back. The front porches (first and second floor) have victorian style posts and plain balusters that we will copy when we replace the broken and missing first floor railings. The problem is the back porches which have started to move and need to be fixed. The house has aluminum siding, but I think where there is siding there are clapboards (in other words the style wasn't changed). The lines on the back are all straight and plain with no victorian elements as on the front. The upstairs porch is screened in and we sleep on it in the summer. This upper porch is pretty stable. The downstairs porch, which is listing due to failing footings, has solid (siding on the out side,verticle boards on the inside) "railings" with a nice 6" wide top, wide enough for a drink or a book. I am not worried about the structural work, new concrete footings etc. which we have contracted have done. The problem is we want to replace the "solid railings" which are not in good shape on the first floor with something that we can see through into the garden, except on the near neighbors side. And we want the 2nd steps to go back into the garden instead of toward the near neighbor. The 3 posts are square and we want to keep that look but slightly larger to give a more weighty look, since we won't have the solid walls. The contractor who is also an architectural designer, thinks we should use a railing system. I'm surprised because I don't think he would put it on his old house. They seem to me to be kind of cheap looking, with narrow useless top rails that you can't set anything down on. Are there some products that are better? Or can I find plans somewhere? For him to design based on our specs would probably be very expensive, but I want the porch to look like it belongs to the house, and to me that means not skimpy looking railings! Oh and they must be paintable. Thanks if you made it through this long post!