Choosing A Railing for Your Deck

May 4, 2016 | deck builder

Choosing a Railing for Your Deck

In building a deck or porch, there are many important decisions to be made. One of the decisions that can really define your outdoor space is choosing a railing for your deck. The brand, style, color(s), and material choice of your railing will have a huge impact on the finished look. Be sure to also familiarize yourself with local building codes and HOA compliance codes prior to selecting your ideal railing. That will determine the style and materials you can use.

It is important to be aware of the different components that make up a railing as you will have to choose all of those components during the sales process. The posts on a railing are usually 4 x 4” or 6 x 6”. These posts are the support structures that keep your deck railing upright. The bottom rail holds up balusters. Balusters are the traditional poles or rods that run vertically along your railing, and visually define the space while also providing safety. The handrail runs across the top and is the piece you can grip or lean on when looking over the side of the deck or walking down stairs. Post caps sit on top of your post and add decoration and coordination to the space or just give the post a finished look. Many brands of composite railing offer posts caps with lighting included.

There are several different material options available when choosing a railing for your deck. An affordable, low maintenance option is vinyl. It never needs painting, it won’t rot, crack, peel, or splinter. Vinyl is available in many styles, and installation is relatively easy. Capped Composite boasts a clean and fresh look while including very little maintenance, and can be in the middle price range which makes it reasonably accessible. Capped composite railing (similar to the decking material) is made of a mixture of materials such as wood fiber, recycled materials, and a polymer blend. There are many brands offering a wide range of composite materials, so you should be able to find a style and color that works with the materials on your deck and the style of your home. RadianceRail and Contemporary by TimberTech are popular styles. You can mix and match the components to customize the railing to your deck. A wooden railing is the simplest option, and it also gives you a lot of flexibility to create something custom or mix and match premade pieces to get the right look. This is the most inexpensive type of railing and goes best with wooden decks. The disadvantage of wood is that it needs regular maintenance such as cleaning, staining, or painting to stay structurally sound and continue to look aesthetically pleasing. There are many types of metal railing available, but the most common would be aluminum. One of the advantages of using metal balusters is that they usually have a slimmer profile than composite or wood, so are less likely to block the view of the landscape beyond. They are also lower maintenance than wood. Two popular aluminum railings American and Arabian Railing Systems from Key-Link Fencing & Railing Inc.

Choosing a Railing for Your Deck

White Washington Vinyl Rail

Choosing a Railing for Your Deck

TimberTech Radiance Rail (composite)

Choosing a Railing for Your Deck

Sweeper Style Wooden Railing

Deck Railings

Azek Vintage Collection Deck with White Arabian Aluminum Railing

Balusters also come in a variety of materials and styles. Composite balusters are the same composite material as mentioned above and can definitely bring a space together as you can coordinate different colors or stay consistent with one.  Aluminum and other metal balusters provide a slim profile, and range in style from modern, to industrial, to rustic. Tempered glass is a great option for windy landscapes. While this is a pricier material, it can be worth it since it creates protection from wind, without blocking the view. Glass is popular in coastal landscapes. Cable rail is another high-end option. Homeowners with a view often choose cable rail because it does not obstruct the view. The cables have a sleek, industrial look which goes stunningly with modern landscapes and architecture.

Choosing a Railing for Your Deck

Fiberon Horizon Rail and Balusters (composite)

Trex Transcend Railing with Aluminum Balusters

Trex Transcend Railing with Aluminum Balusters

Choosing a Railing for Your Deck

TimberTech Contemporary Rail with Cable Infill

Composite deck Rails

TimberTech Deck and RadianceRail in White with Glass Channel (from TimberTech Pinterest)

Different styles of railings have different shapes or “profiles” that play into the overall look and style of an outdoor space. Some balusters are round in shape like Arabian Railing’s Richmond option, while others are square shaped depending on aesthetic preference such as their Somerset balusters.

With all of the components, choosing a railing for your deck or porch can be a daunting task. However, when paired with the knowledge to make all of the right choices, your railing will complete your outside space and provide a polished look!

Contact Cedarbrook Outdoor Design Build for assistance in choosing a railing for your deck!

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Thanks so much for a job well done. The patio, porch and walkway exceed our expectations.

P. Rau, Ellicott City, MD