In our October blog post series,  “Your Backyard Is A Blank Canvas” we reviewed various pergola, deck and screened porch designs.  Then in last week’s post, “How To Choose The Best Stair Design” we explained six possibilities for building the stairs for these structures.

Then once you select the type, layout and building site of your new outdoor space, it’s time for the finishing touches. So today let’s talk about choosing rails.

Elegant White Vinyl Rails with Gray Decking, by Archadeck

Elegant White Vinyl Rails with Gray Decking, by Archadeck

And what’s the best way to choose?  Well, it begins by narrowing down your rail options among a host of materials and styles.

Contemporary Composite Deck Rails with Metal Balusters in St. Louis West County by Archadeck

Contemporary Composite Deck Rails with Metal Balusters in St. Louis by Archadeck

Traditional Wood Deck Rails with Curved Iron Balusters by Archadeck

Traditional Wood Deck Rails with Curved Iron Balusters by Archadeck

Because your deck will be a visually prominent feature from the inside and outside of your home, it’s really (really!) important to choose a rail that complements your deck from every angle.  All components need to flow seamlessly, including the rails.

And just like the perfect picture frame, deck rails are THE fabulous finishing-touch for a project constructed with safety AND style in mind.

Deck and Rail Designed to Maxmize Curb Appeal and Safety, by Archadeck

Deck and Rail Designed to Maxmize Curb Appeal and Safety, by Archadeck

No doubt about it, railings can make-or-break a deck’s design.  So let’s start by defining primary rail components.

  • Posts are vertical supports, usually 4×4’s, that are attached to the deck frame and connect all other rail components. Local building codes determine specific spacing, location and the number of rail posts required to pass inspection.
  • Post caps, if used, sit on top of the deck rail posts.  Depending on the type of railing system you pick, posts caps may or may not be necessary.  There’s a whole slew of fancy options when it comes to post caps.
  • Balusters, pickets, glass panels or cables can be used as an infill between the posts.  These products come in a variety of materials, shapes and sizes and, when used right, will set-the-stage for your project’s style.
  • Guard rails and hand rails on a deck keep people from falling off the edge and provide something to hold onto, particularly when navigating stairs.  Your local building ordinance will govern whether or not you’ll need to add a separate grab rail in addition to the regular rails.
Black Metal Deck Rails with Glass Panel Inserts and Slender Pickets by Archadeck

Black Metal Deck Rails with Glass Panel Inserts and Slender Pickets by Archadeck

Deck and Screen Porch Rails with Post Caps and Basket Balusters, by Archadeck, St. Louis Mo

Deck and Screen Porch Rails with Finishing Post Caps and Circular Basket Balusters by Archadeck, St. Louis, Missouri

Rooftop Deck with Wood Rails, Metal Inserts and Metal Handrail for Style and Safety, by Archadeck

Rooftop Deck with Wood Rails, Metal Inserts and Metal Handrail for Style and Safety, by Archadeck

What building materials can be used for deck rails?  Possibilities include:

  • Wood
  • Composite
  • Vinyl
  • Metal
  • Cable
  • Tubes
  • Glass

Can more than one material be used for deck rails?  Absolutely!

  • If you prefer a uniform look, then choose rails that match your decking.  For a little variation, only switch-up the balusters.
  • If you’d like significant contrast, employ more than one rail component to achieve the look you want.
  • And finally, for security and ornamental details consider privacy rails, rail lights, a rail gate, drink or dining ledge rails and more.  Even a small design twist adds considerable personalization and panache!
Deck Rails With Privacy Screen by Archadeck

Deck Rails With Privacy Screen by Archadeck

Deck Rails With Built-In Post Lights by Archadeck

Deck Rails With Built-In Post Lights by Archadeck

Deck Rail With Safety Gate by Archadeck

Deck Rail With Safety Gate by Archadeck

Bar Top On Deck and Porch Rails by Archadeck

Bar Top On Deck and Porch Rails by Archadeck

Sound like a lot of choices and you don’t know where to start?

No worries.  Here’s what you can do.

First, check out these articles about railing design:

What Is Kneewall Railing and Why Would I Want It?

Deck Railing Ideas by Archadeck

Deck Design Ideas:  Don’t Block The View

Second, Archadeck has a video library to explain deck safety, the design and building process, and more.

Third, if you’re still exploring, take a look at our Pinterest board, Deck and Porch Railing Design Ideas.

Fourth, do you live in the Greater St. Louis Missouri region and are ready to talk with a deck builder?  If so, please  consider Archadeck.  We’re locally owned and operated with offices in St. Louis West County.

Just call us anytime, 636-227-0800.

Fifth, visit our website at west-county.archadeck.com and fill out the simple, “How can we help?” online form” or if you live outside of St. Louis just go to archadeck.com or call 888-687-3325.

Other sources

Archadeck Outdoor Living, decks.com, Landscaping Network, Better Homes and Gardens, Professional Deck Builder Magazine, Deckorators, Archadecks in Central Iowa, Hennepin County MN, Chicago IL, Austin TX, Foothills in Colorado, Columbus OH, West Rhode Island, Chester County PA