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Remodel Update: Rustic Railings are Done!

Yeah the new rustic railings in the living room are done! Okay, so maybe not 100% done but somewhere around 85-90% so I am pretty happy with that progress this week. I do still have to fill nail holes (and I am a little nail happy so there are a lot of holes to fill), sand, then stain/seal the wood.

But this weekend we are going to go camping and enjoy some screen free family time for 3 days so it’ll have to wait.

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new rustic railings in living room

Last week I shared with you the start of the new railing project. After a completely unmotivated day of forcing myself to work, I was able to get the posts completely covered in the new budget friendly knotty alder.

I am really loving the way the knotty alder looks on the new rustic railings. It has such a beautiful color, has really pretty knots in the wood, and is a hard wood so it will hold up to years of kids playing around the railings.

rustic railing in living room

This week I knew I needed to finish building the railings. Seriously though, I would not recommend trying to stay on a remodel timeline in the summer. It is so much more fun going to the pool, or the park, or all the other fun stuff you want to do in the summer.

But I have decided to dedicate 1 day a week to working on the remodel. I let the kids play and be self-sufficient and I try really hard to actually get some work done. This new system is working pretty good. I can get a good amount done in my one day that I feel like I am making progress.

 new rustic railings in  living room

So today I braved the heat and was able to finish the railings in an afternoon of solid work. I ended up ripping my 1×4 boards of knotty alder down to 2 1/4″ wide. I originally had wanted to use the 1×4 at 3 1/2″ wide, but when I put the boards up against my posts, they looked too wide. The smaller width is so much better.

wood shown on blue carpet with drill

I used my Kreg jig to add holes to the board and leveled it in between the two posts. Then I secured the board with 2 1/4″ pocket hole screws so they went deep into the posts for a really secure hold. And it is super sturdy! I used some scrap boards cut at the height I wanted the board to be at to help hold the boards steady while I screwed them in.

close up of new rustic railing

diy rustic railing being installed in living room

Next I cut 2 more boards the exact same size, then on these board I cut holes to hold my iron balusters. I have been fretting about how to cut these holes for a long time. There is a fancy drill press thing out there that can make square holes, but I don’t have the budget or a real need for it. So I had to come up with another plan.

I started by making a template for me to keep the balusters equal distance apart. Since I was planning on using 4 iron balusters, I divided the total distance between the two posts by 5. This number was the amount of space I needed between the balusters (on center).

Then I made a template to match this measurement. I made my life easier and quickly cut it out on my Silhouette. Then I traced the squares on the second piece of wood I cut.

template for new DIY rustic railing measurement

I found the easiest way to get my square holes, was to drill holes in the two corners of the squares I traced on my wood. Then I used my jigsaw to cut from the drilled holes to the corners of the square.

The squares were not beautifully perfect, and that is something I have a really hard time with because I am a crazy anal perfectionist. But I am learning that no one else ever sees these tiny details that I stress over, so I am trying to let my less than perfect best be good enough. And once the balusters were installed, you can’t even tell that the holes are not perfect.

wood supplies with clamps for new diy rustic railing

Before I drilled the holes, I wanted to make sure the holes in the two boards lined up nicely so my balusters were straight. I clamped the two boards together so that the holes I drilled went through both boards in the same place.

I did have to unclamp them while I did the jigsaw part because the blade was not long enough to go through both boards, but the final holes still lined up really nicely.

I never thought about redoing my railings, but these look so good! The new rustic railings in our living room are done. Now all we need to do is the finishing work then we are ready for new carpet. See how we remodeled our boring builder grade railings on a budget to make our living room look like a million bucks. |

Once the holes in the two boards were all cut, I gave the insides of them a little sanding to make sure I didn’t have any rough edges. Then I used wood glue to attach one of the boards on top of the board I already secured to the posts. I clamped them tight and added a few nails with my nail gun.

rustic diy railing shown with clamps

Then I added 2 pocket holes in each end of the other board I cut holes in and secured it to the posts at the height I decided on. I made sure it was level and used the 2 1/4″ pocket hole screws again.

diy wood railing shown being installed

Now it was time to insert the balusters.

I am not going to lie, I was really scared to cut the iron balusters. I don’t know why I am always so scared to cut metal because I cut wood all the time. But I put a metal blade into my jigsaw and then put on my big boy pants and just gave it a go.

It was so easy! The metal blade cut right through the iron baluster. It did jump a little as the blade cut through the back end of the baluster but I found if I stopped just before the blade made it all the way through, I could easily break the last bit off by just bending the baluster at the cut and then there was no crazy jumping blade to worry about.

After I cut the balusters I slid them through the holes in the top board and into the holes in the bottom board. If they were a little tight I tapped them in with a hammer (I like that they were a little tight because then they will not wiggle around).

rustic balusters installed in new railing

I finished them off by adding a fourth board to the top of the last board. I again secured it with some wood glue, clamps and a few nails.

top view of wood railings with wood glue and clamps

side view of diy rustic wood railings

Ta-da! All done. Okay, the first one was done, but now that I knew the best way to do all the steps, the second one took half the time. And then, ta-da! (Okay, I still have one last step to building the railings, but I need my hubby to help me move the cabinet that holds all my paper crafting supplies so I have room to add the last board on the other side of the wall post and the cap on top.)

I couldn’t be happier with how they turned out. I am so excited to have these beautiful railings and can imagine so many ways to decorate them at Christmas time.

diy rustic wood railings in living room

And after I get them sanded and sealed, it will be about a 3 day project to completely transform the railings in our living room. They have completely transformed the look of our room from boring builder-grade to high-end rustic. I am even more excited to get the new carpet now because our living room is going to be amazing!

diy rustic wood railing with blue carpet

side of rustic wood railings

What do you think? Would you ever remodel your railings? My back is a little sore today and I am happy it’s done, but so glad we did it 🙂

-Kati with picture of blog author Kati



I never thought about redoing my railings, but these look so good! The new rustic railings in our living room are done. Now all we need to do is the finishing work then we are ready for new carpet. See how we remodeled our boring builder grade railings on a budget to make our living room look like a million bucks. |

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