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Measuring Your Home for a Log Railing

March 15, 2018 l Posted in: Uncategorized

Have you just built a brand-new deck and need a unique set of log rails to give it that “complete” look? Perhaps the railing inside your home has had years of use, and you need an upgrade. Maybe you have a loft inside your home — and a beautiful log railing will finish it off.

Whatever your railing needs may be, adding a set of Rocky Top Furniture log rails is an excellent improvement to either existing or new decks, lofts and staircases. Railings are a design element that can give your home a unique and authentic look. Rocky Top rails also give you safety at an affordable price when you have your log railings manufactured by us and sent to you for installation.

measuring log railings

Installing Rocky Top Furniture log rails is an easy, straightforward process — especially if you submit the proper log railing measurements. Rocky Top rails are available in two options — standard sizes, in which you adapt your space to predesigned segments, and custom. Many applications aren’t suitable for standard sizes, but that’s no problem. Rocky Top Furniture will make both deck and stair railings to your precise, custom specifications. All we need is the right measurements.

Log railing measurements have some vital points that we need to know beforehand to ensure your new rails fit precisely. Let’s walk through the measurement process so you know what measurements will make for an optimal log railing installation experience. To help you with measuring correctly, here are some guidelines and tips on how to measure for a log railing, including log stair railings.

How to Submit Your Log Railing Measurements

measuring log rails

There are several important log railing measurements we need before we can process your order and deliver you the exact size of log deck, loft and stair railings. Correct measurements are necessary to get the right fit. There’s an old saying in carpentry, “Measure twice, cut once”. That’s wise advice as it’s always best to double-check — or even triple-check — your figures.

The first thing we need to mention is that Rocky Top Furniture builds log railings to an American standard. That means we work in Imperial figures of feet, inches and fractions of inches. We’re not equipped to build railings following the metric system, which uses meters and centimeters.

Please ensure you send us the critical measurements in Imperial. Submitting metric measurements may lead to confusion or potential error, as we need to convert them to standard feet and inch numbers. The two measurement systems do not always convert precisely, which can lead to trouble with a fit that’s too short or too long.

The most effective way to submit your written measurements is with a hand sketch from a “bird’s eye” point of view. If you’re proficient with computers, a simple CAD drawing is helpful, but it doesn’t have to be complex. Your drawing also doesn’t have to be scaled. The important things are that it’s complete, the measurements are accurate and the figures are legible. We’ll convert it into our own CAD diagram and return it to you for approval and final sign-off.

What Are Standard Railing Sizes?

It’s important to know that even when you send us your own deck, loft and stair measurements, we always manufacture our log railings within certain residential and commercial industry standards. There are also a few component terms to understand:

• Rails: These are the top and bottom horizontal frame members. In residential applications, top rails are 36” above the deck surface. Commercial rails are 42” high. The lower plane of all bottom rails is 4” maximum above the deck’s floor.

• Posts: These are the primary vertical support for your railing. They come in a range of diameters, from 4” up to a custom order of 10”. Posts also have different notching profiles depending on whether you’re using them on the inside or outside corners as well as whether they follow in-line with a continuous railing run.

• Spindles: These are the vertical guards spanning the rail run. Residential spindles are all 29.5” tall, but size varies dependent upon style and texture. manufacture railings with spindle placement that balances the entire run. You don’t need to worry about that measurement. We’ll calculate it for you.

How to Measure Horizontal Railing Measurements

Measuring for horizontal deck or loft surfaces and inclined stair railings are two different processes. We’ll cover what’s required for both types of measurements. Let’s start with the easier job — calculating the spans between certain critical horizontal points. Here are the items to be aware of:

• Overall outside length of your deck or loft: This aspect is also called the rawness or the run. It’s the distance between extremes of your loft or deck frame. For simple square or rectangular spaces, the run is the length from the house wall to the outer front face. Then the right angle distance across the face of the area and around the second right angle or 180-degree run back to the house wall. If your deck is framed true, you’ll only have two measurements as the left and right side runs will be the same. Your loft measurements on the two outside edges should also match perfectly. Outside measurements are expressed with the symbol “o/o” which stands for “outside to outside”.

• Inside measurements: These apply to decks and lofts that have shape changes like juts and jogs. This process is a bit more complicated, especially where you have existing posts that need to remain. Take inside measurements from the inner side of the structure face. Note these with the symbol “i/i” or “inside to inside.

• Combinations of inside to outside measurements: These often pop up. That’s expressed with “i/o” or the reverse “o/i”. It really doesn’t matter which order you abbreviate in. It’s having an accurate distance that counts.

Deck posts or indoor loft supports need special attention. If you’re ordering a railing system that includes new posts, we only need the gross inside or outside measurements. However, if you’re pairing our log railings with existing posts such as structural elements that are holding up a roof or upper floor, we’ll need you to supply the exact width of your deck posts and note them on your sketch. Normally, we mark existing deck posts with a symbol of an “x” inside of an “o”. That clearly identifies frameworks we need to accommodate.

It’s important to note all deck or loft angles other than 90-degree changes. This process is critical so we can cut joints to match your space’s angles. Most decks and lofts work on right angle changes, but some are created with multiple 45-degree bends or even 22 ½ -degree angles. Make sure this accurate angle measurement is clear on your sketch. Rocky Top fabricates at 90 degrees only. Customer site fabricates any angles other than 90 on site. However Rocky Top will help you through the process.

How to Measure Stair Railing Measurements

Like deck posts, there are a few special requirements we need to know when you’re submitting measurements for log stair railings. The angle or incline of your deck or interior stairs is crucial. There is no standard angle for either indoor or outdoor stairs, as they have to accommodate the site conditions, which include how high the deck or second floor is from the ground level and how far out the stair landing is placed.

Stairs can be a challenge for even experienced carpenters to build. Fortunately, if your stairs are already in place, all you have to do is take careful measurements of a few key angles and distances. Before doing that, let’s review stair terminology and how that applies to taking your log stair railing measurements:

• Treads: The flat surfaces you step on going up or down your stairs. Their width, depth and thickness depend on their design and material. Most treads are about 12” deep and about 36” wide. Thickness is usually 1 ½” if they’re made from dimensional lumber.

• Risers: The vertical spaces between treads. They can be open or closed, again depending on design. Risers aren’t usually more than 7 ½” between tops of treads.

• Nosings: The leading edge of stair treads. Often, nosings exceed or lead the risers by an inch or so. This difference makes it easier to step without dragging your toes.

• Stringers: The notched inclined structural members that support the treads and risers. Stringers are usually cut from 2×10 or 2×12 lumber. The angle where stringers extend out from the deck surface and lead down to the ground is a crucial figure in calculating your stair rail design.

• Rise and run: Terms working together to form your stringer or stair angle. Rise is the vertical distance from the top edge of your deck surface where the top of the stringer attaches. Run is the horizontal distance where the bottom of the stringer meets the landing surface. The combination of rise and run give you the stair angle.

Measuring Stair Angle and Length

We need to know your stair angle as well as the length or distance between the top and bottom tread nosings. You can use a protractor to fit the angle or you can mathematically calculate it by dividing the rise and run ratio. Measuring the tips of the nosings is easy but if you’re unsure about calculating angles or ratios, get someone who’s familiar with construction to help.

You can also always call one of our design technicians at Rocky Top Furniture. You can give them the rise, run and nosing length and they’ll help you out. It’s part of our customer service that we’re proud to offer. Working as a team and verifying measurements is part of the log stair railing process. It assures accuracy and prevents mistakes. As well, be sure to tell your technician if you require railings for one or both sides of the stairs.

A word of caution about stair angles. If you calculate your stair angle to be greater than 37 degrees, this will require special attention. High-angle stair railings have to be drilled for spindles and assembled on site. This adds to your installation work. If you find yourself facing a steep staircase, make sure you call us and talk the situation over. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Important Log Railing Measuring Tips

You’ll find measuring your home for log railings simple now that you know what’s required. But there are other measuring tricks to pick up that’ll make the task even easier. Let’s look at a few deck railing measuring tips:

• Use a quality tape measure. The best tape measures for getting accurate deck rail figures are retractable metal tapes. Their solid, yet malleable nature reduces the risk of mistakes by flex or stretch that you might get with cloth or fiberglass tapes.

• Know how to read a tape measure. If you’re not familiar with reading a tape, you might find all the small markings a bit confusing. Most of the arrows, diamonds and colored blocks are for wood frame construction. Don’t worry about these icons when taking deck measurements.

• Record your measurements in feet, inches and fractions of inches. An example would be an inside to inside distance written as “4’, 8 ½” – i/i” or an outside to outside noted like “7’, 6.0” – o/o.” It is preferable that you provide measurements in inches. For example, 7’, 8” is 92”.

• Fractional measurements are always recorded in evens. These will be halves, quarters and eighths of inches. Don’t bother getting down to sixteenths for deck rail measurements. The closest eighth is sufficient.

• Appreciate the sliding hook end that’s loosely riveted onto a steel tape. That’s done on purpose. It allows you to compensate for measuring inside and outside spaces. The hook slides at the same distance as the hook flange width.

how to measure log railings

• Get assistance with measuring. The person taking the measurements should be recording them as well. That reduces the chance of misinterpretation error. Also, it’s best that the person doing the actual railing installation is involved in initial measuring.

Submitting Your Measurement to Rocky Top Furniture

Once you have all the necessary deck, loft and stair railing measurements, it’s time to submit them to our designers. Make sure the measurements are clearly defined on a nice sketch that can be scanned as an email attachment, faxed or mailed. Once received, a staff member will reply with a firm quote Once an order is placed, Rocky Top will then create and return to you a shop drawing for your confirmation.

We can easily resolve any issues with a phone call. The same goes for installation questions. Rocky Top Furniture technicians are available throughout your installation. We stand by to ensure that if problems happen, we find solutions right away.

white cedar log railings

Submitting measurements is only part of the process of getting log railings from Rocky Top Furniture. We also need to know the railing style, texture and finish you’d like. All our log railings are made from Northern White Cedar. It’s the best all-around wood for standing up to outdoor use in every climate condition across the nation, and its strength and look is just as appealing for all your inside railing projects, too.

Although we’ve already chosen your wood species, we need you to pick more details. Browse our website and look at our gallery to find the finish, texture and style you prefer. Choose from these options:

Log Railing Styles

We have three styles of log railings available in residential and commercial designs:

• Standard: Has single top and bottom rails.

• Mountain Timber: A bulkier version of standard railings.

• Lodge: Incorporates a double top rail.

Log Railing Textures

Log textures are important for creating the right look. We carry three distinct wood textures:

• Sanded smooth: Characterized by true diameter logs sanded smooth to touch.

• Hand Hewn: Rough around the edges and characterized by flat drawn knife accents.

• High Country: Coarse and grainy, yet with a true diameter rough sawn look.

american made log railings

All Rocky Top Furniture deck and stair log railings are American made. We’ve manufactured over 7,000 railing assemblies for residential and commercial customers across America. Our railings come pre-drilled and fully assembled along with detailed instructions to make your installation tight and easy.

Send us your measurements on a sketch today. We’ll quickly provide you with a quote as well as all the information you need to have beautiful Rocky Top Furniture log railings installed on your home. Call Rocky Top Furniture today at 1-800-332-1143 or contact us online to get your log railing measurements ordered.