Building Metal Railing
Building metal railing is something most do-it-yourselfers can handle. We had around 240ft of railing when we added up everything inside and outside of the cabin. We priced out a few options with wood and metal and decided to build our own metal railings for cost and maintenance reasons. I had only welded a couple of times before with an arc welder but discovered welding is actually not that difficult, especially with a decent wire-feed setup. It did take about 2-3 full days of welding to complete the job and then another few sessions of priming and painting everything.
We picked up a Lincoln Electric Pro MIG 140-Amp welder shown above for just over $500 at Lowes. We also rented a tank of 75/25% CO2-Argon welding gas and a 12lb spool of welding wire. We build all the metal railing with that one spool and 2 tanks of gas.
We built a jig to hold all of the steel spindles at 4" spacing on-center. For most sections we used a 1.5" square tube for the top rail, 0.5" spindles, and 0.5"x1.5" U-shape metal for the bottom rail. This turned out very well, and ended up being quite sturdy for spans as long as 10ft.
We purchased the raw metal from MetalMart of Lehi. Total cost for all of our metal was around $1200.
Metal spindles were cut to 3ft lengths with a chopsaw.
The picture above shows the metal railing we built on the first day of welding.
Here's a picture of our Installed interior metal railing. Tabs were welded to the each end of the railing and attached to the log posts. The stair railing was the most challenging. For this, we attached the top and bottom rails to the posts first. Then we tacked the two outside stringers in place. Once that was done and we knew everything would fit, we took the rail off and welded the remaining stringers in place. The final step of building the metal railing was to prime and paint. We went with an oil-rubbed bronze color paint from Sherwin-Williams.
You can see in the picture above all of the exterior metal railing built for the deck. For any span over about 10ft we inserted a 1.5" square post in the center and bolted it to the floor to strengthen the rail.
The DIY metal railing project turned out very successful in the end. After running the numbers we estimated we saved $10k-$12k by building the railings ourselves. Custom railing similar to this can run in the range of $50/ft.