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I am replacing all of my front porch columns and railings. I am using pressure treated lumber with 2" x 4" for the verticals and 2" x 6" for the horizontal top & bottom pieces. The wood I am replacing is of the same dimensions and appears to be connected with 2 screws through the bottom and 1 screw through the top of each vertical piece.

I would like to use pocket holes but have some concerns. Note that the vertical pieces really only need to be held in place plumb and evenly spaced, they will not carry any load. I know that the wood will move as the weather changes. I am reluctant to glue, secure with 4 pocket holes, & caulk these vertical pieces. Wouldn't they break free or bow over time? Plus, I have 54 of these to attach. That's a lot of pocket holes to plug, sand, prime, & paint. Also, how would the plugs hold up for outdoor use glued into pressure treated lumber?

It seems that I may be better off securing the verticals with 2 screws through the bottom (to prevent twisting) and 1 in the top. Filling the holes will not be fun, but the pocket hole solution would not prevent that either.

I do plan to use pocket holes to secure the horizontal sections to the columns and for the columns to the headers.

Any suggestions?

Thanks,

Bob

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I remember seeing someone who built a outdoor fence with Kreg screws... let me see if I can find it....

Yes, here it is. David Pruett on this site built his fence using Kreg's Stainless screws. It turned out beautifully:

Find more photos like this on Kreg Jig Owners Community
This may work. I don't doubt that the joint will be strong, that's actually my concern. I am wondering if I should use a weaker joint to allow for some movement at the joint vs. warping wood. Maybe the pressure treated wood would not warp anyway, I don't have much experience in this area.

Any thoughts on plugs working out ok? If they do not hide well, I will have a LOT of work in attempting to hide the pocket holes to no avail. A failed pocket hole cover up would be much more visible than filling holes in the horizontal pieces if I drill straight through.

Thanks.
Try using trim pieces for the most obvious areas attaching them with finish screws that are designed especially for trim work and their ability to be set deep into the wood. For those areas that are unable to be trimmed out use conventional connections or biscuit type connectors that are made for decks and employ screws and plastic biscuits.

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