For centuries now, porch railings have been adding design and function to architecture all over the world.
If you are fortunate enough to come across an old porch railing and wonder how you can repurpose it, look no further. Here are 18 creative ways to repurpose your unique piece of architectural history.
Where to Find an Old Porch Railing
If you aren’t renovating an older property with its porch railing, you can always scout out renovation sites in your area or even check outbuildings that are slated for demolition to see what you may find. Often the owner or developer will be more than happy to give away what they see as “junk.”
Antique stores, flea markets, and online sources such as Craigslist and Kijiji are good places to look for old porch railings.
Here are 18 ways to repurpose an old porch railing:
1. Build a Custom Garden Fencing/Trellis
This is a good use for any type or size of railing and an easy, whimsical way to add a practical and decorative element to your garden. An old railing could be the perfect, cost-effective way to keep critters out and support your vines. Just be careful that the railing has not been treated with anything toxic before installing it in your garden.
Check out this beautiful wrought iron example from justcallmehomegirl.com.
2. Organize Your Garage or Shed With a Tool Rack
Transforming your railing into a tool rack could be accomplished in a couple of ways. The railing could be hung from the ceiling using chains and then furnished with hooks that your tools can hang. This method would be perfect for a tool or gardening bench, freeing up valuable countertop workspace.
Alternatively, you could mount the railing to the wall to contain larger objects. Similar to the pallet pieces used in the photo below, the railing can also add streamlined storage for your larger, more cumbersome shed and garage items.
3. Clothes Drying Rack (a Great Addition to any Laundry Room)
Mounting a hinged section of railing to your laundry room wall is a creative way to incorporate drying space for your clothes without using up valuable room-real estate. Using a railing with spindles under 2 inches wide and finished with an appropriate coating will work best. You don’t want to hang damp items on anything that contains rust or flaking paint/stain. Wrought iron rails that are in good condition would be the easiest to work with.
Check out this great example from Reddit.
For a great video tutorial on installing a collapsing drying rack, check out this one on youtube.
4. Build a Bed Headboard (and Footboard too!)
Headboards made from unique materials have been a popular design trend for some time now. Wall-mounted or freestanding, an old porch railing turned headboard will make an excellent addition to any bedroom in your home.
Be sure to check the materials and finish of your railing before installing it as your headboard. You will want to avoid toxins such as those found in pressure-treated wood, lead paint as well as splinters or nails.
Here is a freshly painted porch rail turned headboard from Pinterest.
Another interesting example from Pinterest.
5. Spruce up Your Indoor Railing
In the spirit of bringing the outdoors in, an old porch railing can be repurposed as… a railing!
Why purchase new railings for your indoor stairs when you can reuse something unique and functional. A win-win situation for design and the environment.
Once again, you will want to check the materials for any toxins and ensure that the old railing is sound enough to use on your indoor stairs and meets all applicable building codes.
Check out this amazing Finnish design below.
Although the image below features a repurposed wrought iron fence, you can easily see how you could use an old porch railing in the same manner.
6. Make a Decorative Ladder for Outdoors (or Indoors)
Another design staple, decorative ladders, can be used for so many different things. Old porch railings are the perfect contender when it comes to creating this item, all you have to do is flip your railing piece vertically, and you’re done.
Decorative ladders are perfect for display quilts, bathroom towels, antique newspaper collections, or anything else that you can drape over a rung. Again, be sure to take a look for nails, screws, or any other hazard before putting your ladder to use.
Check out the step-by-step instructions for this railing-to-ladder transformation from lovemydiyhome.com.
7. Give any Table a Custom Look with New Legs/Base
If you’re planning on making yourself a new table, consider using your old porch railings as legs or a base. Any railing should work, although you may have to do some re-jigging to get the legs/base balanced on all sides. Depending on the size of the table desired and how many railings you have on hand, this idea would work for an end-table or a full-sized dining table.
Here is a wrought iron example from Pinterest.
A wood example from dumpster-diva-mimi.blogspot.com
8. Create a Beautiful Kitchen Pot Rack
Old porch railings make great, space-saving pot racks for the kitchen. Racks can consist of a single rail or a combination of 2 or more rails.
After ensuring your railing is clean and free of potential hazards like nails or screws, be sure to have the proper hardware for this project and check that your ceiling has the proper structure to support the pot rack.
Here is a great guide to building a pot rack from rails, and if you need further clarification, here is a more detailed guide on how to hang your rack.
A wood example from Pinterest.
9. Create Wall Shelving You’ll Love To Use
Although one of the simplest uses for old porch railing, display shelving makes a bold statement. You’ll want a railing that has a wide enough surface to support your items, so it will most likely be a wood railing as opposed to a thinner iron railing.
You can leave the railing in its original condition for a more rustic appearance or it can be sanded and finished with your choice of stain or paint.
Below is a dramatic example from hammersandhighheels.blogspot.com of the distressed, chipped look popular among the repurposing crowd.
10. Repurpose on a Playhouse or Treehouse
What better project to unleash creative whimsy on than a children’s play structure? Why not consider using your old porch railing on a play or treehouse for your little ones? For this particular idea, safety is of the utmost importance. Your railing must be the correct height, free from hazards and rot, and installed properly.
Although the railing appears to be made new for the project pictured below, one can easily imagine how you could use a more rustic, vintage railing to add charm to a play or treehouse.
11. Make a Bench Back
Using your old porch railing as a back for a bench or chair is another great way to repurpose your find. Both wood and iron railing would work for this application. Even if your rail height is on the short side, you can always bolster the height by adding a wood base underneath or building a frame around the railing.
Pictured below is a painted wood railing with spindles added as arms for an outdoor bench from mypurposedlife.com.
12. Decorate Your Porch With a Custom Sign Mount
If you’re looking for a unique way to display your house number or signage of some sort, consider using your railing as a backdrop. Great for home or business, attach your signs to the railing and then the railing to your wall. You may need specific hardware to accomplish this, depending on what type of wall you have.
13. Make a DIY Pet Gate
Another practical use for your old porch railing – keeping your pet in or out of a designated area. It is quite common to see the use of old crib sides for pet gates (as pictured below from myrepurposedlife.com), but why not take the project to the next level using porch railings?
Both wood and iron railings would work, depending on your space and mounting requirements. Again, the finish of the railing would need to be considered as our four-legged friends are known to chew and scratch.
What Can I Do With Old Spindles?
Sometimes it isn’t necessary to use the whole railing for your repurposing project. Salvaging the spindles from an old wooden porch railing can provide material for endless creations. Home accessories made from wood spindles (turned wood) are a trendy choice right now.
Check out our last five ideas dedicated to repurposing porch railing spindles.
14. Use Decorative Rails as Candle Holders
Standing alone or placed in groups, wood spindle candle holders are both elegant and rustic and can be used in any room of the house. Spindles can be sanded and refinished with stain or varnish, painted in a new crisp color, or left as is for a vintage, distressed look.
Check out this site for photos and a step-by-step guide on how to make candle holders from spindles.
For a video tutorial on the process, check out:
How To Make Distressed Candlesticks From Old Spindles Found At A Thrift Store
15. Make Whimsical Characters for Your Home
The long spherical nature of wooden spindles lends itself perfectly to character creation. The sky’s the limit when it comes to this project. Whether you’re looking for a fun addition to your child’s playroom or to add to your holiday decor, check out these whimsical characters for inspiration.
16. Design Some Art Pieces
Wooden spindles from old porch railing also make great materials for general art projects. From two-dimensional pieces to three-dimensional sculptures, you can get creative with your spindles in so many ways.
The spindle tree and wind chimes below are just two great examples of what you can do.
17. Repurpose as a Lamp Base
Lamp bases made from turned wood spindles are a popular choice three-dimensional for classic yet unique lighting solutions.
Here is an excellent guide from a repurposing blog on making a lamp from a wooden spindle.
You will need a lamp-making kit like this one from Amazon or this one from Home Depot.
Once you have completed the base, all you need to do is select your lamp shade, and you have a unique and trendy new light source for your home.
18. How About Some Custom Picture Frames?
Old porch railing spindles lend themselves perfectly to picture frame projects. The frame can be a simple design, such as this one from Pinterest.
Or more complex such as this “frame within a frame” design. For a step-by-step guide to this spindle creation, check out mixedkreations.com.
So, there we have it! 18 Ideas for what you can do with old porch railing. Hopefully, these ideas inspire you step-by-step to transform your piece of architectural history into something unique, beautiful, and functional!