Your Comprehensive Guide to Deck Railings: Safe & Legal Installation, Creative Ideas, and Inspiring Designs
Many people believe that deck railings are a luxury that they do not really need. Well, those people are wrong! A deck railing acts as a sort of guard rail that keeps you from falling off of balconies, decks, and stairs. If you would like to keep yourself in one piece, then we would recommend getting a deck railing pronto.
Apart from saving your life, deck railings have also evolved to be an important design feature in today’s homes. There is no need to build or buy a spectacular home yet have an underwhelming outdoor area. Available in any type of material, color and finish imaginable, the design of deck railings has grown over time. The perfect deck railing will add a measure of refined elegance to your home.
How to Build Deck Railings
Many people might prefer to leave the technical details to their architects. However, it is important to make sure that the deck railings you choose are structurally sound. There is nothing worse than having your brand-new showpiece collapse in the middle of a soiree.
A deck railing is made up of two basic structures: the posts and railing assembly. Most of your focus should be on the posts because they hold up the entire assembly. They also ensure that your deck railing is strong and stable. Otherwise, you might be leaning on it one minute, and find yourself on the ground in the next.
These posts typically come in standardized sizes. The railing assembly holds all these pieces together, finishing off the design. You can find everything you need to set up a magnificent deck railing – from posts, railings, balusters, and even screws – at The Deck Shoppe.
Types of Deck Railings
While railings were traditionally made out of treated lumber, they are now available in many other materials. Wood or plexiglass? Wrought iron or aluminum? Or, would you prefer PVC or composite materials? Whatever your taste (and budget!), there is a deck railing to blow your socks off.
1. Wrought iron deck railings
Show your unique sense of style with deck railing systems that are made completely out of wrought iron. If you want to customize these rails to your design, they can be cut easily with a normal saw blade.
Alternatively, if you just want to skip all that hard stuff, you can also order them as prefabricated steel panels from Dekorators. They also come with blocking, which you install into the railing’s framing to give the posts a stable foundation. This latter option is incredibly easy to setup and install.
2. Aluminum deck railings
Are you looking for an option that is exceptionally strong but effortlessly stylish at the same time? Then aluminum is the best choice of deck railing for you. Aluminum is great for people who value sleek minimalism.
It flows seamlessly into your outdoor space to create a beautiful, safe environment. Furthermore, this is a great option to satisfy your inner penny-pincher. Aluminum gives you value for your money: it is very durable and resistant to rust.
Dekorators has a great selection of aluminum deck railings for you to choose from.
3. PVC deck railings
Just because it is PVC does not mean that it cannot be pretty! PVC deck railings are relatively new on the market. Better manufacturing practices produce PVC products that are cheap, strong and durable.
PVC also does not rust or stain. However, it can fade from the sun, or bend over time. You might have to replace these railings quite often, but they will give you long years of great use before then.
4. Steel deck railings
Whether you go for the horizontal or vertical option, cable steel deck railings are the perfect complement to your outdoor space. They keep you protected while giving an illusion of openness that you will enjoy. Made out of stainless steel, this option is also impervious to rust and environmental conditions.
Take note that the steel cables will need retightening from time to time. This is because stainless steel is a relatively soft metal and will stretch after a while.
5. Composite deck railings
Composite deck railings take your outdoor area from just “okay” to “spectacular.” While most decking uses the same material or color throughout, composites do the opposite. They give you the chance to mix and match different balusters and infills to come up with a unique, one-of-a-kind design that will set tongues wagging.
6. Vinyl deck railings
Vinyl deck railing is very affordable and low-maintenance option for you. It does crack, splinter, or get discolored over time. It also does not need to be finished or sealed. Vinyl decking products are available in a lot of styles to suit any taste and need.
7. Glass and Plexiglass deck railings
Glass decking adds an undeniable touch of beauty and class to your home. It appeals to everyone, regardless of their personal style or taste.
Does your house overlook a resplendent garden or spectacular view? Then glass deck railing is the best bet for you. This is because it gives you an unobstructed view of the magnificence of nature around you, letting you appreciate it even more.
Glass decking is affordable, and also easy to clean and maintain. It is also unaffected by weather; it does not fade or discolor in any way due to exposure to the sun. It will definitely give you value for your money.
But, you have to do a bit of work before settling on this choice. Make sure that the glass is polished, shatter resistant and tempered for safety. Also, check with the building authority in your area to see if there are any restrictions.
If you are constantly tripping or prone to little “accidents,” then you might be wary of glass decking. Luckily, you now have the option of getting plexiglass panels for your outdoor space. The only downside to plexiglass is that it scratches easily, gets discolored from exposure to the sun, and must be replaced quite frequently.
8. Wooden deck railings
Does it get any more traditional than wooden deck railings? Seeing your friends and family sitting on a perfectly constructed wooden deck perfectly represent the American dream. That is why they are still the most popular decking option today.
Even as you appreciate its beauty, ensure that your wooden decking is safe for use. This is only done by making sure that the wood you use is pressure treated. This will keep away termites and other insects, as well as decay.
How to Install Deck Railings and Balusters
Once you have made your choice of deck railing, you have to start thinking about installation. Basically, this means if you will hire a contractor or make it a DIY project. Well, each option has its own pros and cons.
Hiring a professional to install anything around the house is always a good idea. That is unless, of course, you do not mind destroyed gas or water lines! Yes, these are things that have happened when unqualified home owners have decided to do any building or repair job themselves.
So, if you know that you are not very good with your hands, just leave it to the professionals! Why should you destroy your new (and expensive!) railing system by trying to be an amateur handyman?
On the other hand, you might know what you are doing when it comes to hammers and stuff. In that case, you can make installing your new deck railing system a solo project or a fun DIY activity for your family.
Installing your new decking will take at least one day. You will need a tape measure, miter saw, reciprocating saw, aluminum jig, power drill, clamps, and wood spacers. Give the kids a quick run-down on avoiding all the pointy ends, and follow these basic steps to install your new railing:
1. Measure and cut the posts
The height for your deck railings will depend on your area building codes. Measure out the appropriate height and cut off the excess with a reciprocating saw.
2. Secure the posts
Bolt each post to the inside of the rim joists. Ensure that every bolt is at least five inches apart.
If you are setting up a composite deck railing system, install the post sleeve over each wood post. Then, slide the post sleeve skirting over your post sleeve. Make sure both of these elements is resting on the deck.
3. Lay out the railing beams
Measure the length between the end posts. Then, lay out two railing beams and clamp them together. Use both the aluminum jig and power drill to make the holes. This will create perfectly spaced holes for the balusters.
4. Install top and bottom rails
Attach both the top and bottom rails to the inner posts with two three-inch screws. This will provide alignment and balance.
5. Attach the balusters
This is the easiest step in the process. You just need to screw your balusters into the bottom and top rails. If you are going for a more refined look, you can bevel the bottoms of each baluster.
6. Secure top cap
Using two three-inch screws join the top cap to your posts. Then screw on the top cap to the topmost railing after every 12 inches.
Where do you Use Deck Railings?
1. Pool Deck Railings
If your pool is on the deck, then a deck railing around it is critical. It serves the dual purpose of demarcating it from the rest of your outdoor space while adding some beauty and class to the space.
Use materials that are resistant to water and warping. If you go for a wooden deck, make sure that the boards are properly treated and sanded. You do not want your kids to be running around the pool and getting snagged on stray splinters!
2. Deck railings stairs
Today, stairs are about more than function. They are more of a blank canvas for your creativity. Everything from the materials used, the number of treads, handrails, and height of the treads can be used to show your design chops.
3. Privacy screens for deck railings
You may live in a crowded area, or you have particularly nosy neighbors. In that case, you may need a deck that will block out your relaxation zone and guarantees your privacy. That is where privacy screens for deck railings come in.
You can use a conventional design to create your privacy wall. But, if you want more fun options, you can use this chance to express your flair for design and attention to detail.
For starters, you could use a lattice design, or incorporate arbor features along the top of your privacy screen.
Deck Railings Ideas
Keeping up with popular design trends is almost impossible because they are so fluid and change quickly. But how do you handle this when you are choosing deck railings, which is a long-term investment?
Think of your deck as a blank canvas. You can incorporate little changes from time to time that will keep it looking fresh and new for a long time to come. Here are a few ideas for you:
1. Wooden deck railings
All-wood deck railings are coming back into style with today’s homeowners. Wood adds a sense of geometry and order that appeases a little bit of our OCD. But, you can have a twist on this old idea to stand out from the crowd.
Instead of slats of a standard size, why don’t you try logs? This will give your home a rustic charm that is both appealing and calming.
Or, you could show off your creativity by using balusters. Install two by two-inch balusters in fanciful geometric patterns to create new and interesting shapes.
2. Wire mesh deck railings
If you thought wire mesh is just for chicken coops, you would be wrong. Use pre-welded wire mesh for your deck’s infill to create an interesting conversation starter. Wire mesh deck railings are easy to install. Made out of steel, they are also resistant to rust. We can assure you that you will definitely be ahead of the pack with this idea.
3. Easy deck railings
Today, minimalism is the name of the game. This severe, no-nonsense approach to deck railing design certainly carries a particular type of charm. It makes for structures that are easy on the eye, easy to clean and maintain, and (more importantly,) easy to install.
4. Pressure treated wood deck railings
Pressure treating your wooden deck railing will make it will be more durable and last longer. You can also be sure that it will not suddenly crumble to dust because pressure treating keeps the termites and wood rot away.
Building Codes for Deck Railings
Regulations and codes for deck railings installed in detached family homes are defined by the International Residential Code (IRC). On the other hand, commercial decking in apartments and businesses is regulated by the International Business Code.
Some of the codes you have to follow before installing your decking include:
1. Code Height for Deck Railings
- If it is higher than 30 inches above the ground, you must have a deck railing.
- In case your deck is lower than 30 inches but you still install a deck railing, it must meet all the requirements.
- The IRC sets the minimum height for any deck railing is 36 inches. This is measured from the top of the railing to the top of the deck.
- The IBC sets its minimum height requirement for 42 inches.
- However, both the IRC and IBC allow you to build higher decking if it conforms to every other requirement.
- Your infill and sweep space should not allow openings larger than four inches.
Inspiring Design Ideas for Deck Railings
1. Custom deck railings design
With custom deck railings, you can make your wildest dreams come true. The only thing that can limit you is your imagination.
2. Wooden deck railings design
Whether it is slats or logs, asymmetrical or geometric patterns, design options for wooden deck railings are endless.
Pre-made Deck Railings
You can now buy various pre-made components that you can use to setup and install your deck railing.
For instance, the Laredo Sunset post base kit will make your DIY deck railing installation a hundred times easier.
Pre-assembled Deck Railings
The catch phrase of today’s world is convenience. And nothing is more convenient than having a pre-assembled deck railing delivered to your home, ready for use.
Deck Railings Cable System
Also known as cable railings, these systems are the future of decking. Easy to install and maintain, this no-fuss option truly opens up your deck to the outdoors.
Cable deck railings are made from stainless steel. This means that they do not rust or get tarnished with time. You just need to retighten the stainless steel cables periodically, and you are good to go.
Cable Deck Railings Cost
Getting an accurate estimate of how much a cable deck railing will cost is easier with a scaled drawing of your design. However, ballpark estimates are also possible.
The cost of a cable deck railing depends on a lot of factors, making it very hard to estimate. These include project size, shape, design, materials, railing height, and cable diameter. Taking design as an example, one which has a lot of corners will cost more than a straight decking.
However, the average cost of cable deck railing starts from $1.50 per foot.
How to Replace Deck Railings
A rotted or split board or pole should not destroy the look of your whole deck railing. If you can tell your jigsaw from your circular saw, replacing the damaged parts is a pretty simple and straightforward process. Here is what you need to do:
- Cut out the old or damaged boards using a jigsaw. Then, pull out all the nails left behind.
- You also need to strengthen any wobbly or weak posts. All you have to do is tighten their bolts, or add some more in case the pole is too shaky.
How to Stain Deck Railings
The first rule here is to work on a clean surface. Otherwise, the wood will not be able to absorb the stain.
Clean the decking with a water spray to remove dirt, and mild detergent to get rid of stains. If you see any signs of mildew, you can use oxygenated bleach to take care of that.
2. Sand it
After the deck railing is clean, it needs a good sanding. This will get rid of splinters and give you a smooth surface to work with.
3. Apply the stain
You can use a small roller or sprayer to apply the wood stain. Each produces a distinct effect; therefore, only your preferences can dictate which method you choose to use.
Custom Deck Railings
Think about it: you come up with your own deck railing design and then see it brought to life. How great would that be? That is the magic of custom deck railings.
Deck Railings for Sale?
There are so many sites currently online that sell deck railings. However, only one can guarantee you quality products, innovative design, and great customer care. Check out Deck Shoppe today for all your deck railing needs.
Your home should be a place for you to sit back, relax, and shed the stresses of the day. A well-designed deck and deck railing system allows you to make your outdoor space another calming and peaceful part of the home.