There is no shortage of ideas and inspiration when choosing the right railing for your deck.
Deck railings are typically made from; steel, wood, vinyl, glass, wire cable, or a combination of these materials. Your choice of railing type will depend on deck size, location, climate, usage, and budget.
According to the experts, you should, whenever possible, choose your railing design before your deck is built. Depending on your desired railing, accommodations may have to be made regarding the structure of your deck.
Whatever your preference, there are unlimited options for stylish and functional deck railing designs that will suit any budget. Check out our deck railing price comparison chart to better understand costs relating to the different materials.
Here are 102 deck railing ideas to inspire you to upgrade your front porch or back deck.
Cheap Deck Railing
A cheap deck railing refers to any deck barrier that will save you as much money as possible.
You can save money by getting the deck material for free or at the lowest price possible for starters. For example, you could salvage wood or other materials from your own home, different construction sites, or even the neighborhood trash containers. And then, you can use these materials to construct deck railing for your home creatively.
However, you should ensure the salvaged materials are in good condition to prevent any safety issues in the future.
Another way to obtain a cheap deck railing is to buy the cheapest type of material possible. In this case, that would be the most inexpensive wood or low-cost PVC. Typically, pressure-treated wood tends to be affordable and would cost you anywhere from $22 to $30 per linear foot.
However, hardier woods, such as ipe and redwood, would cost you $32 to $45 per linear foot. On the other hand, PVC could cost anywhere from $20 to $40 per linear foot.
Remember that wood requires regular maintenance, which may push your long-term deck railing costs higher.
Another thing cheap deck railings have in common is their ease of assembly. The more complicated the material is to work on and install, the more it will cost you. For that reason, pre-assembled PVC railings may be much cheaper than many other materials with comparable prices.
However, if you know how to work the salvaged wood or metals, you can save money on professional labor. In addition, opting for deck railing materials that lend themselves well to DIY projects may save you as much as $30 per linear foot or $70 per hour.
1. Basic Treated Wood Deck Railing
A treated wood deck railing is the most inexpensive type of deck railing. Treated wood is strong, durable, and can be painted or stained to match your home’s exterior. You can leave it natural or consider it a blank canvas from which you let your imagination soar.
2. Basic Black Steel Railing
This particular railing is the Fortress FE26 from Fortress Building Products and comes in pre-welded panels, which you can install with brackets of your choice. The panels are lightweight enough so that the average adult can easily lift and carry them. Classic and unassuming, this railing suits a range of decks and environments and is available in three colors, black, grey, and brown.
This is a complete railing system meant for DIYers. It is made of pre-galvanized steel, zinc phosphate, e-coat, and a premium powder coating. It has the charm and style of a wrought iron railing but without the weight and cost of the heavier material.
3. Basic Black Aluminum Railing
If you’re looking for a deck railing that’s stylish and functional, this design is a great option. These black aluminum balusters pair perfectly with the black tubular handrail to create a classic look that will never go out of style.
4. Basic White Vinyl Railing
Vinyl railings are lightweight and generally low maintenance. They are prone to damage and won’t last as long as wood or metal. The front patio above features vinyl posts and railings in classic white.
5. Basic Wire Cable with Simple Wood Frame
This type of railing is simple, effective, and relatively inexpensive. It’s perfect for a DIY project. You attach the wire directly to the wood framing or drill holes for a more finished look. This design looks great with horizontal and vertical wires and can be used with most decking materials.
6. Basic Hog Pen Wire with Wood Frame Deck Railing
If you live in a rural area or have a lot of animals, this design is for you. A hog wire railing is simple, cheap, and easy to install. You can use pressure-treated wood for the frame and basic hog pen wire from a local supplier like Tractor Supply.
Horizontal Deck Railing
You can install your deck railing in a vertical or horizontal orientation. It depends on your existing design theme and preferences.
Typically, horizontal deck railing tends to be more versatile. You can use multiple materials, such as glass, cable, metal, composite, and wood, to create the effect you are going for. And the horizontal railing systems are excellent when you want to improve privacy and use fewer materials. However, they are also easier to climb, making them a safety hazard in homes with small children. So, take note of that.
And remember to observe the local construction codes when installing horizontal deck railing. For example, the International Residential Code (IRC) requires that the guardrails be at least 36 inches high. The rule applies if the deck is higher than 30 inches above grade.
Also, the space between the balusters needs to be less than four inches wide. And you will likely need to observe that rule even when your deck railing is horizontal. But the result would be worth it.
When in doubt about what code to follow, always revert to your county building codes. Different cities and municipalities tend to have variations of the IRC, and the local rules must take precedence.
7. Horizontal Wood Slat Railing
Whether you’re looking for a sleek, modern design or a more traditional style, horizontal wood slat railings are always popular.
You can easily customize them to fit your space and style preferences, and they provide a great way to show off your deck or patio. You can use different types of wood, stain them in different colors, or even paint them to match your home’s exterior.
8. Horizontal Metal Frame Railing
If you want a modern look without all the fuss, a horizontal metal frame railing is perfect. This railing works especially well on decks or patios with clean lines and minimal decorations. Plus, it’s easy to install and won’t break the bank.
9. Wood Solid Short Wall Railing
A solid short wall as a railing is a great example of how you can add some extra privacy to your deck without going overboard. The solid wood gives this railing a more substantial look. It’s also a great way to add extra decoration to your outdoor space.
10. Wood Solid Half Wall with Picket Top Railing
The classic wood railing atop a short wall enclosure is perfect for any home. The solid half wall (like pictured above) with baluster top looks great and functional. The wood is a nice natural look that will complement any decor.
11. Wood Shake Half Wall with Wood Top Railing
Try this wood shake siding on a half wall enclosure with a wood top railing if you’re looking for a more rustic design. It’s a great design for decks on mountain or lake houses that want to continue the rustic natural surroundings.
12. Simple Cedar Wood Slatted Railing
Certain wood species also lend themselves to a more contemporary, sleek look. The railing above adds a design element and privacy to the deck using wide cedar wood planks.
Choosing unfinished wood boards, such as cedar, allows you to stain the wood in a tone of your choice or leave the natural beauty of the panels to shine through with a clear varnish. If possible, stain or varnish your boards before installing them, making sure they are completely dry before beginning.
This simple design would be a good choice for the DIYer, as long as everything is installed correctly and meets building regulations for your area.
13. Basic Horizontal Composite Wood Railing
If you’re looking for a classic railing design, a basic horizontal rail is a great place to start. The horizontal railing has a fencing feel to it. The railing is simple, sturdy, and low-maintenance, perfect for any outdoor space.
Plus, it’s easy to customize with different colors and materials. To add a bit of interest, try using a composite wood material like Trex with a wood-grain texture and pattern. You can also add decorative touches like metal balusters or glass panels for a more modern design.
Aluminum Deck Railings
Aluminum deck railings are a trendy choice among home and cottage owners. Durable and lightweight, aluminum railings are a favorite with DIYers and contractors alike.
Like any deck railing material, aluminum has its advantages and disadvantages.
On the downside, aluminum railings can be cost-prohibitive to some. However, aluminum railings are not the most expensive railing material on the higher end of the scale.
If you are purchasing your railings premade from a retail outlet, your color and style choices may be limited, so if you are after a specific look, best to have your railing custom made or choose a different material. Aluminum is also easily scratched but can be touched up with paint.
If you choose to go with an aluminum deck railing, you will enjoy many advantages of this material.
Aluminum requires very little maintenance, is easy to clean (just wipe with soapy water), easy to install, and is very durable. It will never rot, fade, corrode or stain. It has a high combustion threshold making it safe to be near barbecues or other heat sources. Aluminum is also an environmentally-friendly choice as it can be recycled when no longer in use.
14. Decorative Black Aluminium Deck Railing
This black aluminum railing is a stunning example of how elegant this material can look.
These railings feature glass panels and aluminum balusters capped with a lattice-like trim. The black aluminum perfectly complements the robust brick posts and the large staircase descending from the deck.
If you want to add unique features to your aluminum deck railing, consult your local metal works shop if you cannot find what you are looking for at the usual retail outlets.
The weight of a deck railing is always essential to consider, although in the case pictured above, the lightweight aluminum railing provides no issue for the large brick pillars and solid wood staircase.
15. Black Aluminum Deck Railing with Decorative Balusters
A few particular elements add interest to this simple deck railing design.
A decorative element has been added for visual impact, alternating every other baluster. In addition, a second horizontal rail has been incorporated under the handrail to give the railing a unique look.
A shorter version of the deck railing echoes the design on the staircase.
Once again, you may need to contact a metal works shop if you cannot find this design at your local big box store.
16. Black Aluminum and Glass Deck Railing
Similar to the previous design, this deck railing offers a discreet and straightforward look compatible with many styles of homes and cottages.
In addition to the decorative elements on every baluster and additional horizontal railing. Alternating around the deck’s perimeter, these panels offer unobstructed views (perfect for keeping an eye on young children) and a classy element to the deck design.
Proper installation is always crucial to ensuring a safe and long-lasting deck railing. Consult a professional if you aren’t confident in your DIY skills for this railing design.
17. Lightweight Black Aluminum Deck Railing
This light and airy black aluminum deck railing is the perfect solution for a smaller deck.
The narrow width of the upper and lower railings and the slender angled metal balusters won’t overpower a small space and would be easy for the DIYer to install.
This design won’t break the bank but will still benefit aluminum railings. Long-lasting and durable, this railing will endure for years and offer peace of mind because of its low maintenance.
18. Aluminum Deck Railing With Accessibility Rail
If you require additional accessibility features on your deck, consider adding an aluminum handrail such as the one pictured above.
This railing type is perfect for those requiring a little extra help accessing the deck and is often installed alongside a ramp. Whether your railing is for a home, cottage, or even a business, this solution blends seamlessly with the rest of the railing system.
Aluminum is the perfect choice for this feature as it will never rust or splinter and, if installed correctly, will hold up under any weight.
19. White Aluminum Deck Railing
This bright white aluminum deck railing offers a striking contrast to the greenery behind it.
This idea is great for those who want to enjoy a classic white railing without the worry of peeling and fading paint or unsightly rust stains.
The basic design will compliment almost any home or cottage. This railing has been taken to the next level with an extra-wide plank on the handrail. This can serve as a drink ledge or even a bar pictured above, complete with bar stools. The contrasting grey color of the bar rail adds some visual interest.
Lightweight and durable, this railing will stay bright and new even in the worst weather conditions.
20. Ornate Aluminum Deck Railing
If you’re looking for something extra special for your deck railing, why not consider a custom-made piece of functional art?
Although the railing pictured above is on an indoor staircase, one can imagine outdoor deck railing possibilities.
The sky’s the limit for a whimsical design like this one. You’ll want to contact a local artisan or find an online source on Etsy or Pinterest.
Depending on the design of your railing, it may be the best choice for a high traffic deck, and you will, of course, have to make sure it complies with your applicable building codes. A customized ornate deck railing will provide you and your guests with years of unique beauty.
21. Aluminum Vertical Pickets with Double Top Rail
If you’re looking for a sleek and modern railing design, aluminum vertical pickets with a double top rail are a great option. This type of railing is perfect for homes with a contemporary or minimalist aesthetic. And, because aluminum is a low-maintenance material, it’s ideal for busy households.
22. Aluminum Black Railing with Top Wood Rail
This aluminum black railing has a top wood rail with an elegant, modern look. The smooth, clean lines of the metal are offset by the warm wood, making it a perfect choice for a contemporary home. The combination of materials makes this a durable and long-lasting option for your deck or patio.
Steel & Wrought Iron Deck Railings
Stainless steel railings are beautiful, require minimal maintenance, and are durable for your deck. Steel is the strongest and most durable material but is also the most expensive, especially stainless steel.
The weight of steel railings and custom options may challenge the average DIY deck builder. As a solution to this, many companies offer pre-fabricated, customized panels making installation easier. There is always the option to hire a professional to install your steel railing.
When used for deck railings, we often see steel incorporated with other decking materials, but it is possible to have the entire railing made of steel and all its components. The posts and top railing can all be steel and any corresponding hardware.
Although steel is not likely to quickly corrode, those living near a body of water (especially salt water) may want to choose 316L or 2205 stainless steel. These types are great for ocean environments.
If you have your heart set on steel railing but want a specific color, it is possible to paint steel. Just be sure to use steel-compatible paint and prepare to re-paint every couple of years as it will eventually peel off.
23. White Steel Tube Beach House Railing
This stunning white steel deck railing with tubular handrail would be a fantastic feature of any sunny location. White is a good choice for a high-temperature area, as the metal won’t absorb as much heat as a darker color and will stay cooler to the touch.
Some companies offer steel deck railings in various colors, so best to order in white to avoid painting and future maintenance.
Naturerails.com offers full decorative panels, such as the colorful crab featured in the image above. Their in-house nature artist cuts the design from metal panels which are then sandblasted, given an acid bath and powder coated with primer, then again with the color of your choice. The panel is then baked at extremely high temperatures.
The result is a beautiful custom design.
24. Steel Continous Scene Deck Stair Railing
Steel panels also make great stair railings. This fantastic creation pictured above has been custom cut in matte black steel to fit a rustic staircase. We often see black steel paired with rich wood decks, as it is an eye-catching combination.
When choosing a stair railing such as this, it is important to consider the weight of the railing to make sure your staircase and posts can support it. Stair rails will take more traffic and pulling than the rest of your deck rail. You should be able to get the information you need from your railing manufacturer.
You also want to be sure your stair railing is up to any applicable safety codes and fastened with the proper hardware for your particular situation.
25. Black Steel Deck Wildlife Railing Panel
Another amazing design from naturerails.com, this wildlife railing panel could not be a perfect choice for the location of this deck. Why use common balusters when you can turn your railing into a work of art?
The silhouetted nature scene looks like it is a natural part of the landscape and adds subtle drama to the already fantastic lake view behind it.
Along with the steel balusters, this panel has two layers of powder coat to make this railing durable and low maintenance. Using the proper hardware, this could be a relatively easy DIY project as you can order the decorative panel to fit your exact measurements.
26. Continuous Scene Deck Railing
This deck railing sets the perfect scene for “wine o’clock.” Full-length custom steel railings depict a fun wine motif, complete with glasses, bottles, and grapevines. The sky’s the limit on design themes, use your imagination and turn your deck into a conversation piece.
The cost of these deck railing “scenes” will be substantially higher than your standard steel spindle railing, as they will have to be customized and installed by a professional. Depending on the length of your deck sides, you may require special equipment to lift and hold the panels into place.
If solitude is your goal, you may want to consider a more run-of-the-mill deck railing. Once your friends and neighbors see your railing scenes, they will never want to leave!
27. Colored Continuous Scene Deck Railing
Imagine this bright green canoe scene popping off the warm wood of your cottage or home. There is no limit to what you can put between your deck posts.
Basic black scene panels have classic charm, but adding color to your deck takes things to a new level. These steel panels can be double powder coated in any color. You could have each panel made in a separate hue or even try a gradient effect with each panel coated in several colors.
Once again, weight and height are important considerations when installing these railings. These particular scene panels have been custom fit into this raised deck’s robust wooden post and upper and lower deck rails.
28. Steel Horizontal Deck Rail System
If a contemporary vibe is more your style, consider a horizontal steel railing design like this one.
Powder-coated for durability, these steel bars are painted in a popular shade of grey and pair nicely with a simple wooden handrail and anchor posts.
With the cost landing on the high end of the spectrum and the heaviness of the material to consider, these steel railings are a good choice for a smaller deck. Securing these substantial railings needs to be done correctly, so a professional installation is probably good.
Although the wood elements of this deck rail may need some regular upkeep, the steel bars should hold up nicely in even the more extreme conditions.
29. Classic Elegant Twisted Steel Deck Railing
Some homes just don’t call for woodsy scenes or modern look railings. If your home is from the Victorian era or another elegant, classical time, the steel deck railing pictured above may be what you are looking for.
Not as heavy as the chunkier contemporary design we looked at previously, these thin rails and balusters are more cost-efficient and are easier to transport and install.
Adding to the visual interest and placed every few inches are “twisted” balusters featuring an ornamental element. The railing adds a nice contrast to the heavy white posts and doesn’t take away from the unique octagon shape of the deck.
This elegant railing is a good choice for any sized deck and will stand up nicely to the elements.
30. Industrial Steel Tubing Deck Rail
Consider this steel piping idea for your deck railing if it is the modern, industrial look you’re after.
Unfinished, galvanized steel provides a durable, more cost-efficient railing that will suit a more contemporary house or cottage. Steel piping is easy to find and easily fastened to your wood or concrete deck with the appropriate hardware.
Wire cables act as horizontal balusters in this example, fed through holes drilled into the steel pipe deck posts. The hand railing and posts could be assembled onsite or welded together before installation.
31. SteamPunk Steel Deck Railing
This unique deck railing style is dramatic, heavily ornate, and, well, just plain heavy!
Suited to a classic-style house, this railing is reminiscent of yesteryear. To find one for your home, you may have to contact a blacksmith for a custom order, or perhaps you’ll hit the jackpot and find some pieces at a flea market or antique shop. Even if you find a small section of this railing, you can always incorporate it into a design as a focal point using simpler steel rails.
When using this style of deck railing, you want to consider the type of deck you have and whether it can support the weight of the steel. Attaching the railing securely is also very important and will require hardware specific to this unique design. Consulting a professional for installation would be recommended.
32. Ornate Wrought Iron Railings
If you’re looking for an intricate railing design to really make your deck stand out, look no further than wrought iron. Wrought iron railings are classic, timeless, elegant, and can be customized to fit any style. If you’re worried about maintenance, don’t be – wrought iron is actually very easy to care for.
33. Ornate Wrought Iron Railings with Ornate Posts
If you want to go all out with your deck railing design, try incorporating some wrought iron elements. Wrought iron is a solid and durable material that you can use for both the railings and the posts. It has a very classic look that will never go out of style.
34. Ornate Wrought Iron Railings with Ornate Posts
If you live in an older home with a wrought iron railing, you can easily give it a fresh update. This ornate design looks modern and fresh while maintaining that classic wrought iron look. The best part is that it’s easy to do yourself. Simply sand down the existing railing and paint it with a high-quality primer and paint. Then, add some new ornate posts to really give it a modern update.
35. Ornate Wrought Iron Railings with Ornate Posts
If you have an old home with many wrought iron details, why not extend that to your deck railings? This design uses thick, ornate posts and railings to give your deck a luxurious feel. Pair it with some equally elaborate outdoor furniture, and you’ll have a space that feels like it belongs in a magazine!
Wood Deck Railings
There is nothing quite like the natural beauty of wood, especially in an outdoor living space.
Wood deck railings offer the greatest flexibility out of all the materials, as it is the most affordable, versatile, and easiest to install for the DIYer. Wooden railings are strong and can be painted or stained to match any color scheme and if needed to be replaced at a minimal cost. Anyone can get creative with wood deck railings and enjoy their deck for years to come with proper, consistent maintenance.
Maintenance and durability are the main concerns when building a wood deck railing.
Maintaining your wood deck and railing will cost you an additional $1.00 to $2.00 a square foot per year to keep things looking good and functioning well. When calculating your budget, your initial costs will be lower with wood, so factor in future maintenance.
Consider your environment and any wear and tear your wood deck railings will endure. If you live on the coast or another damp location, or somewhere with harsh winters, wood may not be the best choice for you in the long run. Rot, cracking, and fading are all factors you will need to deal with at some point if you choose a wooden railing.
36. Pressure Treated Wood Deck Railing with Privacy Lattice
The sturdy wood deck railing pictured above is a traditional design common to many North American homes. Balusters attach a smaller lower rail to an extra-wide handrail, providing a convenient ledge to set down drinks and other items.
Pressure-treated lumber has been used to create this solid railing, protecting the wood from the elements. This lumber will last about nine years in a climate with regular freeze-thaw cycles without maintenance.
If maintained every year, the wood should last up to 40 years in the same climate. Some manufacturers offer warranties for their wood, so be sure to enquire when you purchase your deck railing supplies.
This standard deck and railing design are made from cuts found at your regular lumber yard or box store, and because of this, many stores offer downloadable deck and railing plans on their websites using materials they have in stock.
37. Wood Deck Railing Bench
Why not consider adding a functional feature when choosing your wood deck railing design?
Incorporating bench seating into your railing adds an aesthetically pleasing element and provides extra built-in seating. Great for family barbeques, bench seating means less clutter on your deck and is never short on chairs.
Your bench can be as straightforward or as elaborate as you would like. The example pictured above is stained the same color as the deck, giving a harmonious appearance to the railing. Creativity could come into play here, as you could paint or stain the bench any color. Cushions could also be added, bringing added comfort and color to your deck.
38. White Wood Deck Railing Parquet Design
This white-painted wood deck railing has a classic style with a twist. Reminiscent of the parquet flooring of the past, this design is clean and bridges the gap between traditional and modern styles.
Although this design is not overly ornate, it is labor-intensive. You must paint every piece of wood with the appropriate type of paint. Then it must be measured and cut to the correct size to create the parquet formation.
This railing would best suit a temperate, arid climate with minimal precipitation. Fading, peeling, and rot would not be easy problems concerning this type of railing.
39. Simple Cedar Deck Railing
Natural Cedar is one of the most beautiful and practical woods for its color, smell, and anti-fungal properties.
The example pictured above is a straightforward “builder’s deck” design but striking in the naturally occurring colors of a traditional wood railing. Cedar is naturally resistant to rot and insects but can fade into a grey color if left untreated in the elements. To keep cedar deck railings looking fresh, you can apply a coat of clear varnish every year.
The lumber used in this design is available at lumberyards and big-box stores, and the balusters are available pre-cut and ready to use. Of course, all applicable building codes should be considered, and you should consult a professional for any issues or questions regarding installation.
40. Wood Privacy Screen Deck Railing
For an ultra-modern aesthetic, consider this privacy screen wood deck railing.
Long continuous boards of differing widths installed horizontally across concealed wood posts provide both railing and privacy. This idea is perfect for a home in a busy urban environment, as the wooden slats block the outside world yet still allow in light.
Although simple, you can customize this design. The wood can be painted or stained in any color, and the boards can be of whatever width you prefer. Depending on the height of the railing, you could also place a wider plank horizontally on the top to serve as a drink rail, perfect for entertaining guests.
41. Wood Chevron Deck Railing
Imagine sipping your morning coffee while taking in this beautiful view.
This non-intrusive wood chevron-patterned railing is the perfect complement to a fantastic view. This may not be for you if you are looking for a quick DIY deck railing. This design, although simple, would take significant time and labor to cut, sand, finish and assemble all the pieces into the chevron pattern.
A deck solutions company may custom produce this design for you if you are not in the market to do it yourself. Just perform all the required maintenance, as it would be a shame to lose this great railing to the weather elements.
42. Painted Wood “Candy Cane” Deck Railing
Reminiscent of a candy cane’s stripes, this wood deck railing is a show stopper with two board widths and two colors. Spaced apart, the boards create an interesting pattern that compliments any home or cottage style.
Once again, the design is simple and affordable enough for the DIYer and can be customized with any paint color. The railing will require regular maintenance, including a yearly sanding and coat of paint, depending on the environmental conditions.
Painting the railing boards hides imperfections and allows for the use of more economical types of wood or even repurposed boards taken from another project.
43. Sunburst Style Wood Deck Railings
Try a sunburst style if you’re looking for a unique take on the classic wood railing. This design comprises evenly spaced wooden slats arranged in a radiating pattern. It’s an eye-catching design that will add some visual interest to your outdoor space.
44. Chevron Style Deck Railings
If you want a unique railing design, consider using the chevron style. This involves creating a zigzag pattern with the railing boards. You can do this by attaching the boards at an angle or cutting them into a specific shape. Either way, you’ll have a beautiful and eye-catching deck railing that will stand out from the rest.
45. Natural Sunburst Style Deck Railings
If you want to add a touch of nature to your deck, try using a sunburst design for your railings. You can make sunbursts from various materials, including wood, metal, and glass. You can also paint sunbursts in various colors to match your deck furniture and decor.
46. X Style Wood Deck Railings
These X-shaped wood deck railings are the perfect way to add a touch of farmhouse style to your outdoor space. The simple design is easy to build and can be made from wood species like cedar or pressure-treated wood. You can stain or paint them to match the rest of your outdoor decor.
47. Old Farmhouse Style Deck Railings
If you love the old farmhouse look, you’ll adore these deck railings! They have a distinctly country feel and would be perfect for any home with a rustic vibe. These railings are custom crafted and painted white, a popular farmhouse appearance. You can still find these in local salvage yards, or a skilled craftsman can recreate them.
48. Wood Picket Triad Wood Railing
This wooden rail picket design is a great way to change up the look of your deck without having to do a complete rebuild. Simply replacing the rails with this updated design can give your whole outdoor space a new feel. The best part about this railing idea is that it can be easily customized to fit any size or style of deck.
If you have a small deck, you can use thinner pickets to create a more delicate look. Or, if you want to make a statement, go for thicker pickets. You can also stain or paint the wood to match the rest of your deck’s decor. Whichever way you choose to customize it, this is a railing idea that will add some personality to your outdoor space.
49. Ornate Wood Deck Railings
These deck railings take the classic wood design and add a bit of extra flair with an ornate repeating pattern cut into the wood. The result is eye-catching and elegant, perfect for any upscale outdoor space.
50. Parquet Inspired Deck Railing
This deck railing idea is stylish and unique, boasting a parquet-inspired design bound to turn heads. The best part? It’s easy to achieve with some basic woodworking skills and a little bit of creativity.
51. Cube and X Custom Wood Railing Design
This custom wood railing design features both cube and X elements. The unique thing about this particular design is that the X’s are not just placed randomly – they actually form a diamond pattern. This gives the railing a bit of extra visual interest.
52. Cube and X Style Wood Railing Design
This modern wood railing design features a repeating cube and X pattern. The clean lines are perfect for a contemporary or rustic home, while the natural wood elements keep things feeling warm and inviting.
53. Custom Wood Railing with Double Top Rail
This wood railing features a double top rail, making it sturdy enough to withstand heavy use. This is a great example of how you can mix and match different railing styles to create a unique look for your deck.
54. X-Style Wood Deck Railing
This traditional deck railing style features evenly spaced wood running horizontally and diagonally to form the classic X pattern. The pattern is painted with the top rails and posts stained to add visual interest and variety.
55. Herringbone-Style Wood Deck Railing
Try this herringbone design if you’re looking for something unique than the typical wood deck railing. It’s a great way to add extra interest to your outdoor space without going over the top.
Trex & Composite Deck Railing
Trex and composite deck railings usually blend wood fibers and plastic films, such as polypropylene or polyethylene. As a result, they tend to be moisture– and rot-resistant. In addition, they are designed not to crack or splinter. Also, they are not slippery like plastics, especially during winter months, thus making them safer. That makes these railings durable and robust.
If you are looking for an eco-friendly deck railing, Trex and composite products are worth using. That’s because they consist of recycled materials that have less of a negative impact on the environment.
It is also worth noting that Trex and composite deck railing is versatile and decently priced. Also, it withstands wear and tear, fading, and stains quite well. Furthermore, it can give you a wood look without associated high costs.
Expect to pay an average of $50 to $60 per linear foot for composite or Trex railing installation. On the other hand, a wood deck railing would cost you an average of $75 per linear foot. So, the former option saves you quite some money.
It also helps that Trex and composite railing tend to offer multi-year warranties. That ensures your investment is protected for about 25 years.
56. Two-Tone Composite Deck Railing
If you want to add a touch of sophistication to your composite deck, consider using a two-tone railing. This type of railing uses two different colors or materials for the top and bottom rails, giving your deck an elegant look. You can use different colors of composite material for the rails or use one color for the rails and another material for the handrail.
57. Trex Decking and Railing
If you’re looking for a classic, low-maintenance option for your deck railing, Trex composite decking is great. This synthetic decking material is made from recycled plastic and wood fibers, so it’s environmentally friendly. Trex composite railings come in various colors and styles to match any home’s exterior.
Vinyl or PVC Deck Railings
Our next railing material is vinyl. Made from PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride), vinyl railings have pros and cons, just like any other railing material.
The vinyl railing is lightweight, low maintenance, and resistant to scratching and cracking. Many come in easy assemble deck railing kits and colors that complement newly built homes commonly found in subdivisions.
Easily cleaned with soap and water, vinyl deck railings resemble painted wood (but without the splinters) and are priced at the low end of the spectrum.
On the other hand, vinyl railings can look a bit cheap, and if located in a hot climate, they may be prone to fading and cracking. Structurally, vinyl is not as strong as other materials, and if you don’t like the available colors, you may be out of luck as you cannot paint vinyl railings.
58. Two-Tone Vinyl Deck Railing
Incorporating a brown handrail, this vinyl deck railing does a great job mimicking wood grain. The white posts add a nice contrast, and the black balusters give it a traditional feel.
If you are looking for an economical solution to wood and steel, this railing may be a good option. Retailers often supply pre-drilled upper and lower rails, making spindle installation a snap.
When considering a railing such as this one, keep in mind that lots of traffic, wear and tear, and adverse weather conditions may affect the lifespan of your railing.
59. Grey and White Vinyl Deck Railing
Grey and white is a classic color combination that has seen a massive resurgence in many new builds.
This simple design is quite understated, but the grey handrail, specifically the width, makes this railing a good choice. Choosing a board with extra width provides a place to set drinks or a plate of food, always a welcomed feature of any entertaining area.
The post caps are nice and give off a classy, welcoming vibe to the whole railing.
60. White Vinyl “Turned” Baluster Deck Railing
If your deck calls for a traditional, painted colonial look but you aren’t willing to do the maintenance, this vinyl railing may be the perfect choice for you.
The railing pictured above from Durables Ashington has a T top rail, a rectangular bottom rail, and colonial-style balusters. The railing comes in white, tan, and khaki.
The detail in the balusters echoes that of wood, allowing you to enjoy the look of classic wood balusters without maintenance and upkeep. This particular railing also comes with brackets that hide the installation hardware.
61. Contemporary Black Vinyl Deck Railing
Another excellent vinyl railing from Durables Ashington, this black system capped with a brown wood-like panel fits the bill for many homes and cottages.
This design is unassuming and sophisticated and offers easy care and maintenance perks. The color scheme and clean lines suit anything from a newly built home to a mid-century modern style to a woodsy cottage.
It is hard to tell how wide the handrail is in the example pictured above, but an oversized plank for the handrail would make an excellent addition for holding drinks or even just a nice place to lean on and enjoy the view.
62. Metallic Look Vinyl Deck Railing
Do you love the look of steel deck railing but aren’t as keen on the cost? This may be an excellent choice for you.
The deck railing above could easily pass for steel to the untrained eye. Created by AZEK Building Products, this railing system comes in different color options and won’t stain, mold, or fade.
The color options allow for mixing and matching, as shown above. Classic black posts and balusters stand out against the metallic grey of the top and bottom railings. The combination is a dramatic choice and a lovely backdrop for outdoor furniture or potted plants and flowers.
63. Vinyl Deck Railing with Hog Wire Panels
What makes this vinyl deck railing attractive is the hog wire panel placed between the posts.
This design is a blend of traditional and contemporary style, with the upper and lower rails sitting on the traditional side and the grid of hog wire adding a surprising modern element.
This unique pairing results from a collaboration between Trex Transcend and Wild Hog. They use “Freedom Fill” to install the Wild Hog’s panels into the railings.
Freedom Fill is made by Wild Hog Products and consists of a powder-coated steel infill that fits into the Trex Transcend rails. The wire panels then slide inside the infill.
If you would like to try this idea, consider using a system to make installation fast and easy.
64. White Vinyl Deck Railing with Glass and Steel Balusters
Perhaps you would like to upgrade your vinyl deck railing and make it look a little more “high end.” Why not consider adding glass railings and steel balusters if that is the case?
This design is probably best suited to a deck that doesn’t get a high traffic volume from children and pets. The vinyl railings are resilient, but the balusters, although dramatic, may not take the wear and tear.
For the experienced DIYer, this project will probably present minimal issues. As long as the glass is tempered and installed correctly, safety should not be too much concern.
Rustic Deck Railing
The rustic design theme is usually defined by rough and aged materials that look natural and casual, even when new. The emphasis is generally on a rugged natural beauty. Therefore, your deck railing must be rustic if you opt for this theme.
However, some materials are harder to turn rustic than others. And others, like wood, are much easier to work with since they are already natural.
When you opt for rustic deck railings, you should consider using natural wood showing off its beautiful grains. Also, you can opt for handmade railing features and neutral and natural color palettes.
And if your wood is new, you can age it by using a baking soda solution or a solution of vinegar and steel wool, among other things. You can also distress the wood or use paints and stains to achieve the rustic effect.
If you opt for a glass railing, you must choose a distressed version or age the material yourself. And you can do that using paint and sandpaper. You can also use a paint stripper and some bleach.
When using old metal, you may not have to do much to create a rustic deck railing. But if you intend to install a new metal railing, consider aging it first. And you can do that using various acidic solutions, sandpaper, and paint.
65. Wood and Tree Branch Deck Railing
Who says your deck railing has to be boring? Get creative and mix things up a bit with a unique design. This wood and tree branch railing is the perfect example. It’s rustic and natural, yet still stylish and eye-catching. Plus, it’s easy to DIY if you’re feeling crafty.
66. Wood and Tree Branch and Metal Heart Deck Railing
This design uses rustic materials to create a lovely railing for your deck. The metal heart is a beautiful addition that really makes this design stand out. The use of tree branches as posts gives the railing an organic feel that would be perfect for a nature-themed deck or backyard.
67. Log Post and Metal Tube Deck Railing
A log post and metal tube deck railing is a strong, durable, and long-lasting option that will give your outdoor space a rustic feel. The natural wood grain of the logs will complement any mountain outdoor decor and furniture, while the metal tubing provides a modern touch.
68. Log Post and Picket Deck Railing
There’s something so natural and rustic about a log post and picket fence, so it’s such a popular choice for deck railing. While the logs provide support and stability, the pickets add a decorative touch that really makes this type of railing stand out.
69. Wood and Hog Pen Railing with Gate
This wood and hog pen railing features a rustic design with a gate for added security. The natural wood finish is perfect for any outdoor space, and the hog wire panels add an industrial touch. This railing is also simple to install, making it a great option for any DIYer.
70. All Tree Branch Wood Deck Railing
The example pictured above is another great deck railing for nature lovers. The example above is made of rough-hewn logs and branches on the balisters, top, and bottom rails.
Perfect for a cottage, hunting camp, or rustic ranch, this railing is affordable, primarily if you can source the materials from your property. You can get creative with the branch placement and possibly make your scene or design between the deck posts.
Going along with the rustic look, the branches and logs don’t need to be sealed with varnish but could be sanded down and sealed for a more refined look. If left to the elements, regular inspection of the railing is essential to ensure no rot or loose pieces.
Wire & Cable Deck Railings
This popular deck railing type offers an attractive, versatile look while presenting its own set of drawbacks and advantages.
If using stainless steel cables for your railing, you must regularly inspect them for corrosion or tension loss. They cannot be depended on to withstand a lot of pressure or prevent someone or something from falling. They aren’t the best railing for a deck frequented by children or pets, especially at high heights.
On the other hand, cable rails are budget-friendly, resist corrosion (they are often used in marine environments), and their hardware is easy to adapt to a specific project. They are a popular option and can be easily replaced if need be.
71. Wire Cable Deck Railing Rounded Corners
This fun cable deck railing idea incorporates rounded corners, an extra-wide top rail, and small six-sided tabletops.
This is a party deck with extra space to set down drinks and snacks. Cable railings are the perfect place to hang lights or other decorations too.
It’s easy to create a defined space without heavy borders when using cable railings, which benefit small and large decks.
72. Wire Cable Deck Railing With Wood Frame
Look no further than this excellent cable deck railing design if you’re looking for rustic charm.
Six silver wire cables centered inside chunky wood frames give this railing a modern barn vibe. This design is functional and durable and would work with various houses and cottages.
The railing unobtrusively defines the deck space, blending seamlessly with the natural background allowing light and unrestricted airflow.
This cost-efficient option is for an affordable, durable rustic deck railing solution.
73. Wire Cable Deck Railing With Steel HandRail
This unique railing design would undoubtedly stand out on any deck.
Using the minimal amount of wire cable (4 in this case), this railing is extremely simple, with plain, pressure-treated posts supporting the wire and the industrial steel handrail mounted on top.
Chunk industrial hardware gives this railing a bold sturdy appearance, and pressure-treated lumber means the design will stand up longer under the elements.
74. Horizontal Wire Cable Deck Railing With Aluminum
This beautiful deck features dramatic black aluminum rails with horizontal wire cables.
This design will stand the test of time, a perfect choice for a cottage or a home exposed to the elements. The railing is not visually heavy and is a good choice for a large deck as it is not overpowering with the surrounding landscape.
This railing is very low maintenance, with a yearly cable tension and corrosion check the only item on the to-do list. This is important, especially for decks located high off the ground or for families with children and pets.
75. Wire Cable Deck Railing With Steel Balusters
This design is the epitome of a clean, industrial look.
The gleaming steel balusters support the horizontal wire cables with exposed hardware spaced apart. The tubular handrail is a beautiful addition to the railing and draws the eye in a continuous line around the deck.
Perfect for any location, this railing idea is economical and easy to install for the DIYer. Cables are easily accessible for replacement and maintenance when needed, and cleaning is a snap with a damp cloth and a bit of soap.
76. Vertical Wire Cable Deck Railing
This stunning design vertically uses wire cable.
These cable panels are nestled between bright white wood posts connected between black metal frames. The three-material combination provides a striking yet unobtrusive railing for viewing a beautiful landscape.
The design is simple enough that a confident DIYer could successfully attempt to replicate this idea. Making sure the wire cable is installed securely would be a priority as it is not guaranteed to stop a fall from occurring.
This railing is durable, with the wood posts requiring the most maintenance. Regular cable checks would need to be performed for loose hardware or corrosion.
77. Vertical Wire Cable Deck Railing With Aluminum Frame
This deck railing design is lightweight, maintenance-free, and durable.
Thin black wire cables have been installed vertically between slender aluminum balusters for a minimalistic look that will not overpower a small deck.
This railing is perfect for a cottage or any home that bears the elements as it will not rust or crack over time. Once again, regular cable checks are for this design. If any elements need replacing, they are easy to find and won’t break the bank.
78. Wood and White Post with Cable Railing
This traditionally styled deck features beautiful, natural wood rails contrasted by crisp white posts. The addition of thin, metal wire cables adds a modern touch and ensures safety for little ones and pets.
79. Stained Wood with Cable Railing
If you’re looking for a more traditional approach to your deck railing, then opt for a stained wood design. This classic look will never go out of style and can be easily customized to match the rest of your outdoor space. Pair it with a cable wire railing for a sleek and stylish finish to add a modern twist.
80. Stained Wood with Cable Railing
A more modern take on the classic wooden deck railing, this type of railing uses stained wood planks as its base. This modern deck uses a small outdoor space by adding a sleek stained wood deck and matching cable railing. A great choice for anyone looking to add a touch of sophistication to their outdoor space.
81. Metal Tubular Rails with Cable Railing
If you’re looking for a sleek, modern railing but don’t want to sacrifice safety or durability, tubular metal rails with cable infill might be ideal for your deck. These rails feature vertical posts made of strong metal with horizontal cables. You’ll be the envy of your neighbors and guests.
Glass Deck Railings
Glass is another popular deck railing material. Glass exudes a modern appeal more than any other material reviewed here and can be considered the epitome of deck railing designs.
As with any railing material, glass also has its disadvantages and advantages.
Glass is an expensive material and usually very heavy, making it cumbersome to work with. It is best to let the professionals deliver and install your glass deck railing for anyone other than the most competent DIYer.
Glass also requires regular cleaning to maintain its beauty and transparency.
On the other hand, the gleaming aesthetic of glass offers unmatched beauty and drama to any deck space. It allows an unobstructed view of your surroundings and doesn’t add bulk or barriers to a small space.
We generally have the perception that glass is fragile, but glass made for deck railings is designed to be strong and can withstand accidental contact with people and objects.
82. Stained Glass Deck Railing Panels
This highly customizable stained-glass deck railing is the definition of functional art.
This may be the perfect solution if you look for a deck railing that makes a statement, and money is no object.
The full panel style pictured above lends itself to a more contemporary home or cottage style. Your local stained glass artisan will be able to advise on the creation of such panels, their cost, and weight. You will have to discern if your deck will support the glass.
The sunburst design pictured above is an attractive choice, but you can choose any design you wish because your panels will be made to order.
83. Frosted Glass Deck Railing Panels
Frosted glass panels are the perfect choice for those looking for the glass aesthetic but still wanting privacy for their deck.
Plain, frosted glass panels will add a contemporary look to your deck, and their uniform size will make them a less expensive glass option.
Inserted into a robust metal railing, these panels will provide long-lasting, low-maintenance privacy for years to come.
84. Lighted Glass Panel Deck Railing
Lighting adds a dramatic feature to these rectangular glass railing panels.
The perfect complement to the beautiful landscaping, these glass panels add to the ambiance instead of blocking out the view.
This design may be less expensive to implement than other glass panel railings due to the separate pieces. Every other panel has been lit with integrated LED lighting, spaced a few inches apart, showing the beautiful design etched into the glass.
Not something you typically see at your local retail outlet, this design may be available from a specialty railing company.
85. Frosted Textured Glass Panel Deck Railing
Like the frosted glass panels, this design incorporates texture to add interest.
Blurring but not obstructing the view or the light, these glass railing panels provide a simple, elegant solution and are perfect for a smaller deck.
Installed in a basic steel rail, this design will test time and the outdoor elements.
86. Seamless Glass Panel Deck Railing
This opulent and beautiful glass panel railing is a must-have for a million-dollar view.
Aside from the thin border of the upper and lower rails, this railing offers an unobstructed view of whatever splendor you wish to showcase. This glass railing is for you, whether it is an ocean or mountain view.
You will want to keep the glass sparkling clean to get the full benefit of its beauty, a small price to pay, though after investing a more significant than average amount of money for your deck railing.
87. Glass Slat and Wood Deck Railing
The warm tone of the wood against the sparkling beauty of the glass slats makes this deck railing a show stopper.
These spaced glass slats are inserted directly into grooves cut into the upper and lower wood rails. These spaced glass slats offer an unobstructed view and allow light and airflow onto the deck.
There is some maintenance with this design as the wood will need to be regularly stained and checked for rot, while the glass slats will need regular cleaning to keep them shining and transparent.
88. LED Lighted Glass Panel Deck Railing
If it is a high drama idea you are looking for for your deck railing, look no further.
Perfect for a large deck for entertaining guests, these bottom-mounted full glass panels bring the “wow factor” to the party.
These panels light up the night with solar-powered LED lights installed in the brushed nickel bottom mounts with etched edges.
This big-budget project is best left to the professionals to install so that you can enjoy and show off your dramatic railings for years to come.
89. Tempered Glass with Stainless Steel Railing
Tempered glass with metal tube railing is the way if you’re looking for a sleek and chic railing. This type of railing is perfect for modern homes as it has a very minimalistic design. The best part about this railing is that it’s easy to maintain – all you need to wipe it down with a damp cloth occasionally.
90. Tempered Glass with Stainless Steel Railing
This unique railing idea combines the sleek look of tempered glass with a more industrial metal tubing frame. The result is a beautiful and modern design perfect for any outdoor space.
The tempered glass panels are held in place by the metal tubing, which gives the railing a sturdy and safe feel. The clear glass panels also provide a great view of your outdoor space, making it perfect for entertaining or relaxing.
This type of railing would be perfect for a deck or patio, and it would also look great on a balcony or porch. If you are looking for a unique and stylish railing idea, this is the perfect option.
Modern Deck Railing
Modern deck railing involves materials that suit contemporary decks with intricate designs, such as a minimalist theme or neutral color palette. In such a case, you could opt for stylish and polished metal railings, such as those made from aluminum and stainless steel. You can also use glass panels and polished wood railings. In addition, cable railings would be an option worth considering.
You can also incorporate composite lumber and PVC into modern deck railings. Generally, modern railing materials tend to be geared toward the contemporary design theme.
One primary advantage of modern deck railing is that it can be customized to suit your design preferences. And many products of this nature are easy to install, which is excellent news for lovers of DIY projects. In addition, they come in a wide array of colors, shapes, and sizes. So, you will always find something you like if you look hard enough.
If you are unsure of whatever constitutes modern deck railing, go for anything that will offer you a clean, sleek look.
91. Black Metal Tube Rail with Cable Railing
Try using black metal tubing for your deck railing for a modern and sleek look. This option is minimal and contemporary, perfect for any backyard aesthetic. Plus, the cables running through the middle of the tubes add an extra layer of safety to keep everyone on your deck secure.
92. White Metal Tube with Tempered Glass Railing
Try using white metal tubing with tempered glass panels for a more traditional take on deck railings. This option is classic and elegant, perfect for any home. The glass panels will also let in plenty of light, making your deck feel more open and airy. The metal tubing is extremely durable, so you can be sure your deck railing will last for years to come.
Rope Deck Railing
A rope deck railing is as its name suggests. Barriers of this kind consist of ropes woven vertically, horizontally, diagonally, or in a zigzag pattern through various supporting posts or pillars to create a railing.
A rope deck railing would be an excellent addition to any property that uses a nautical or jungle design theme. And the rope could be made of synthetic fiber, nylon, polyester, jute, etc. If you have a home near a waterfront or at the beach, such a railing would fit right in because it would give you access to the beautiful surrounding views.
However, a rope deck railing is more geared toward creating a dramatic visual effect than enhancing safety, thus making it more decorative than functional. So, if you worry about safety issues, especially where children are concerned, a rope deck railing may not be the best option for your situation.
That said, you could opt for a cable deck railing. This type of railing tends to use stainless steel fittings and stainless steel or galvanized carbon wires that are durable and strong enough to withstand some force. Small kids could get some or all their body parts through the railing and get into trouble.
Because the building codes still apply to rope deck railings regarding how they are spaced, you must ensure your wires are tense enough to meet the spacing requirements. So, you may want to hire a professional for projects involving such materials.
93. Smal Rope and Wood Deck Rail
If you have a small outdoor space, this design is perfect. This railing is made of rope and wood, making it sturdy and stylish. The rope adds a touch of nautical flair, while the wood ensures that your deck is built to last.
94. Thick Rope with Vinyl Post Deck Rail
If you want a classic nautical look for your deck, this is the ship rope railing design. This design uses a thick rope to provide ample support and stability for your deck. The vinyl posts add an extra touch of class to this already elegant design.
95. Thick Rope Net with Wood Deck Rail
This is another take on the classic rope railing design. Instead of using thick rope, this design uses a net made out of rope. This provides a different look for your deck while maintaining stability and support. The wood posts add a touch of rustic charm to this design.
96. Laced Rope with Vinyl Deck Rail
Laced rope spindles take a little more time to install but look fantastic when complete. The rope is run through holes drilled in the vinyl railings and then knotted on either side to create a unique and stylish design. This is an excellent option for those who want something different from traditional spindles.
97. Rope with Black Painted Deck Rail
Try using rope instead of traditional wood slats if you want a fun, unique deck railing idea. This design is easy to do yourself and adds a nautical touch to your outdoor space.
To get the look, simply paint your deck railings black and then install tie-off hooks at the bottom and ring bolts in an alternating placement. Work the rope through the eye bolts and around the hooks.
Privacy Deck Railing
Some people want deck railings that enable them to access beautiful views with minimal obstructions. But what if you prefer the opposite? What if you prefer maintaining your privacy instead?
In such cases, you need to find privacy deck railings that obscure the view of your deck as much as possible. And there are so many ways for you to achieve the privacy you need.
For example, you can install a lattice privacy screen made of metal or wood as your privacy deck railing. You can also install a railing with slats from various materials, such as vinyl, wood, or metal, which have little or no space between the balusters. And translucent or opaque glass panels could work just as well in maintaining your privacy. Also, you could create privacy deck railings from wooden or metallic panels.
You can use most materials available for deck railings where privacy is concerned. So, it’s about what your design preferences are and what you can afford to pay for.
98. Designer Privacy Deck Wall
This is a great option if you want full privacy while also having a designer look. It’s a bit more expensive, but worth it if you can swing it. You can find these at most home improvement stores or online.
99. Wood Privacy Wall with Cable Deck Railing
If you want a more modern look, consider this wood privacy wall with a cable deck railing. It’s a great way to get the best of both worlds – the natural beauty of wood and the clean lines of metal. You can find these at most home improvement stores or online.
100. White Ornate Railing with Shades
This lovely white railing is given an extra touch of class with the addition of ornate details and pull-down sun shades. It’s the perfect way to keep your outdoor space cool and comfortable while still enjoying the fresh air.
Additional Cool Deck Railing Ideas
101. White and Brown Two-Tone Railing
This two-tone railing is a beautiful way to add some visual interest to your deck or porch. The white top rail and brown bottom rail are separated by a row of spindles, giving the whole design a sense of balance and symmetry.
102. Metal Grid Deck Railing
This metal grid deck railing is the perfect mix of industrial and chic. The metal grid panel gives the space a feeling of openness while still providing some security and stability. The handrail adds a touch of sophistication and makes the whole design more user-friendly.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Tall Should Deck Railings Be?
For a typical deck, which is 30 inches or more above grade, deck railings should be at least 36 inches in height from the surface of the deck floor to the top of the rails. However, you should ensure that your deck railings are at least 42 inches high if you live in California or have a multifamily property with a commercial deck.
If you are constructing deck stair railings, the rail height should be at least 34 inches from the stair tread nose to the top of the handrail. But yours can go as high as 38 inches if you prefer.
The basic guidelines you should follow when constructing deck railings are based on the IRC. However, you must also consult your local building codes to ensure correct measurements.
How Far Apart Should Spindles be on Deck Railings?
The deck railing spindles or balusters should be four inches apart or less to enhance safety, especially for children. A typical building inspector may carry a four-inch ball to test your spindle space. And if the ball goes through, your deck railing will probably fail the test, and you will likely have to redo them.
However, there is an exception. The rear of a stair tread usually meets the stair riser forming a 90-degree angle, and creates a space between it and the bottom run of the infill. In that triangular space that has been created, a 6-inch ball should not be able to pass through.
What Size Cable for Deck Railing?
Typical wire cables range from 1/8 to 3/8 inches in diameter and are usually spaced about three inches apart and passed through structural posts placed 42″ to 48″ apart.
Due to the cable railing design, you must install the wires to have enough tension. A four-inch ball would not go through even when the wires are pulled apart. That is why the spacing between the cables should be three inches or thereabouts. And the structural posts supporting it should be placed close enough to minimize the horizontal span.
It also helps have a top rail that holds the entire deck railing structure together and prevents it from collapsing under the combined cable tension.
What to do with Old Deck Railing?
When you remove an old deck railing, your first thought should not be to take it to a landfill. Instead, consider various ways of repurposing the railing and extending its lifespan.
For example, you could use the railing to construct outdoor benches for the deck. The sold deck barrier may also make an excellent supporting system for any creeper plants that you may have. And you could also repurpose your deck railing into garden fencing to keep critters away from your plants.
In addition, you can upcycle old deck railing into a tool rack for your garage, a headboard or footboard for your bed, kitchen towel holders, and wall shelving, among others. If you are willing to think outside the box, you could create beautiful decorative and functional items with an old deck railing.
What Wood to Use for Deck Railing?
If money is an issue, pressure-treated lumber is the most affordable material you can use for your deck railing. It is usually cheaper than other types of wood.
But you can also choose other hardier and more attractive types of wood. These include ipe, redwood, cedar, and tigerwood. However, these may be more expensive.
You need to think carefully about which one you will use for your deck railing. For example, redwood is not always sustainably harvested, so it’s not as eco-friendly as you may want it to be. On the other hand, cedar is resistant to rot and insects but is soft and, thus, tends to splinter.
On the other hand, mahogany and ipe are durable hardwoods. But they are much more expensive than other woods. Generally, each type of wood has its pros and cons. So, it would help if you chose the most suitable option for your needs, according to your budget.
How Tall are Deck Railing Posts?
Deck railing posts should meet the minimum railing requirements, ranging from 34 inches to 42 inches from the deck surface to the top of the deck rail, depending on where you live and where the railings are constructed within the deck as per the local building codes.
However, the deck railing posts can be higher than the top of the railing system. But they cannot be lower in height than the value set by the IRC or local building codes.
How Far Apart are Deck Railing Posts?
The structural deck railing posts can only be so far apart. Otherwise, the longer horizontal span may compromise the overall strength of the deck railing system.
The general recommendation is that deck railing posts should be 72 inches (1829 mm) or less apart. And you should ensure that the distance is measured from the center of each post. Ideally, deck railing posts should be placed at equal distances.
Can You Use Lattice as Deck Railing?
You can use lattice as a deck railing so long as it meets other building code specifications. That means it should have a height of at least 36 inches from the deck surface, or 24 inches if it is located on the deck stairs. Also, the space within the lattice should be small so that a 4-inch ball cannot pass through.
Lattice would work well if you need a deck railing system that enhances safety and increases your privacy.
However, first, find out whether your local building codes permit the use of lattice for deck railing. In some cities and municipalities, it may not be permitted. But you may be permitted to attack lattice onto an existing deck railing. So, it helps to determine what you can or cannot do.
Do I Need a Permit to Replace Deck Railing?
If your deck is 30 inches or less above grade, you are unlikely to need a permit. But for decks constructed above that height, the odds are pretty high that you may need a construction permit.
You may also be able to get away without a permit if your deck is freestanding and less than 200 square feet. However, if the deck you intend to build is larger than the stated size or attached to an existing property, you will likely need a building permit.
Because building without a permit may prevent you from successfully selling your home or attract fines. When in doubt, inquire from the construction authorities in your county. On average, expect to pay anywhere from $225 to $500 for a deck building permit.
Can You Cut Aluminum Deck Railing?
You can cut aluminum deck railing using tools similar to the ones you use to cut wood railings. That is because it is much softer than other metals such as steel. As a result, you do not need to buy specialized cutting tools if you already have those for cutting wood.
Some of the tools you may need to cut aluminum deck railing include a good miter saw with a carbide blade, a chop saw with a metal-cutting blade, a fine file, and masking tape. Also, protect yourself by wearing safety glasses, long-sleeved shirts, and gloves.
Avoid an abrasive blade when cutting aluminum deck railings to prevent overheating and clogging of pores.
Can You Use Rebar as a Deck Railing?
Rebars are reinforced steel rods used in concrete to increase their strength. That means they are pretty strong and can withstand plenty of pressure. So, while it is not meant for deck railings, you can repurpose them as spindles if you have the skills to do so. First, you may have to drill holes into the supporting deck railing posts to pass the rebars through.
However, you must ensure you follow all the set building codes. You must space the rebars four inches or less apart and at least 36 inches high.
Can You Use Plexiglass as a Deck Railing?
Plexiglass is an engineering plastic that is lightweight and shatter-resistant. People sometimes refer to it as acrylic glass. And it comes in various colors and opacities. However, most plexiglasses are transparent. But it may be affected by household cleaners. Also, it is vulnerable to UV light.
That said, plexiglass can be used for deck railing. The railing will ensure you get a good view of your surroundings since plexiglass tends to be transparent. And since it is strong enough to be used at the bottom of deep aquariums, it will likely meet the building code requirement that the posts and railing must be designed to withstand a 500-pound point load or 300-pound uniform load.
In addition, plexiglass is resistant to stains, scratches, breakages, and cracks. That means it will last longer when you install it on your deck.
So there we have it. Forty-seven deck railing ideas to inspire you and help you make the most out of your outdoor space. Whatever your skill level or budget, you will find a deck railing that suits your particular needs and adds charm and beauty to your deck.
Are you looking for something to do with your old porch railings? See 18 Creative Ways to Repurpose Old Porch Railing (You’ll Love Number 8).
You can also check out How Often Should Decks Be Replaced? Let’s Find Out.