When you are investing in an outdoor living space, material decisions are just as valuable as working with a qualified contractor/designer. One of the more important decisions will be your railing choice. Railings will be the first thing guests see when they look up at your deck, so you will want a stylish presentation. You will also want a railing that aligns with your home, lifestyle, and personality. We have broken them down for you by the more popular material selections – vinyl, wood, aluminum, and composite.
Vinyl / Plastic
Cost is a major decision maker when it comes to choosing vinyl over other products. It is less expensive than other railing selections while being aesthetically beautiful. Vinyl railings are low maintenance and will only require a cloth, water, and a mild detergent to clean. They are UV stable, meaning they will not fade and turn yellowish like other vinyl products. The lifespan of vinyl railings is about 25 – 30 years. Visually vinyl looks good on newer more modern homes and tends to look out of place on more established homes. The downside to this option is that it comes in very limited colors and painting it is not an option, so if you are not a fan of white railings, then I would suggest looking at other products.
Traditionally, wood was the only material used for deck railings and is still popular today. Wood is customizable. You can form this material to meet your vision and it is a budget friendly choice. Wood has the rustic look composites are trying to emulate. While pressure treated wood is a cost-effective option, you will need to maintain this material. It requires yearly sanding, cleaning, and staining which is time consuming and messy. Unless maintained pressure treated wood will mildew, rot and can grow mold. Because wood is an organic product it can be prone to bending and twisting. The average life expectancy for maintained wood railings is about 20 years. If you do not mind the maintenance required, then this may be a good fit for your project.
Aluminum railing appeals to many homeowners for a variety of reasons. This railing material is lightweight yet exceptionally strong and its life expectancy does not have an end date. Aluminum railings do not rust, rot and you will never need to worry about insects damaging your railings. For those who seek eco-friendly products, aluminum is a stellar choice because it can be recycled. Unlike other railing products, you can get aluminum railings in almost any color including custom colors when you use aluminum powder coating. It will be a more expensive choice but well worth the additional cost.
Composite railing is made of recycled plastic and wood fibers. It has the look of wood without the negatives of natural wood. It will not rot, warp, or grow mold, and you will not have to worry about insects dismantling your railing. Composite railings come in different designs and colors. Some manufacturer’s have matching composite decking and railing. A standout feature of composite railing is it will not become stained or fade, and you will never need to paint it. Composite railings carry a manufacturers warranty and usually last about 25 – 30 years depending on the manufacturer.
Cable railing is becoming increasingly more popular. If you have a property with endless views this is a product/style you will want to consider investing in. It has a sleek low profile. Because this product is made from stainless steel, you will not need to worry about rot, mildew, mold, or rust. Suggested maintenance / cleaning for cable railing is to wipe them down with a mild detergent and water. Cable railing has a 30 – 50-year life expectancy. This will be one of the more costly choices but if you have a beautiful view it is a must have option.
When you are ready for your new outdoor living space reach out to the experts at Cedarbrook Outdoor Design/Build for a consultation at 301-703-8728.