Deck Railing Ideas (With Material Option Pros and Cons)

Deck Railing Ideas – One of outdoor extensions we can build is deck. It is extension of our living space which is normally positioned on the back of the home but can also be reversed. It can be a part of our yard’s recreational area and sometimes included in our landscaping area along with patio, pool, and outdoor kitchen. Decks mainly used for outdoor family recreational purposes, such as enjoying sunbath, family grilling party, or just relaxing.  We can also have some additions, such as fire pits, bar, hot tubs, and can include various furnishings, such as couch, bench or tables.

Read also: Pool Fence Ideas

Whether it is positioned at the front or back of our house, the deck is still a great space for a lot of activities, from refreshing, enjoying the views, to having small conversations or even making a small event.

Read Also: DIY Patio Ideas

While most of people think that deck railing as a safety feature, many others choose to use railing as an architectural element even when the deck actually doesn’t need one. Railing can enhance the look of the deck visually, and also add style to your whole house look.

If your house does have a deck or porch but not a railing, then you may want to have it railed whether for safety purposes or for style. To do so, you need to look at some ideas on the great railing system you might want to install in your house.

Read Also: Media Room Ideas

Here we will show you some DIY deck railing ideas you can build yourself so it should provide a lot of inspirations. Here are the best Deck Railing Ideas.

What is the Difference Between Deck and Porch?

Deck is very alike to porch in some ways, but while they may have similar purposes, normally deck doesn’t have roof on it.

deck railing
Porch Picture by Swallowtail Architecture

The difference between a porch and deck is not too obvious. Usually a porch has a roof and is at least partly enclosed, while a deck is completely open. So, the installation process to construct these two is mainly similar. In addition, porch is typically located on the front of the home as an extension to your entryway. It is normally covered by extension of your roof and is accessible by the front steps. Some houses may also have a sun porch or three-season porch. Porch can be used for sitting and watching street activity, as a reception area for guests, and, in some cases, for outdoor storage.

Read Also: Retaining Wall Ideas

deck railing ideas pictures

In short, a porch need a ceiling and possibly posts to support the overhang at the front. Decks, in other hand, do not need these.

The Railing Plans

deck railing pictures

While safety issues is the top reason why people choose to install a railing on their deck, keeping it in style is the best way to deal with it. Even though local codes can vary, usually if the deck is too high from the ground, then you are required to install a railing.

Even when it’s actually not required, you might want to install a railing just for the security purpose. Although it’s unlikely that you’d get seriously injury by stepping off a deck, but it will feel insecure especially when you have kids and elder around.

The Railing Spacing

Balusters, the vertical guards that support the handrail, must be installed close enough that the space between them is no greater than 4 inches. Most city inspectors carry a 4-inch ball with them to test the spacing. Installed balusters should withstand 50 lbs. of pressure exerted over a 1-square-foot area.

composite decking
Horizontal Deck Photo by Great Lakes Metal Fabrication

The structural integrity of the railing depends heavily on the posts that support the rail structure. These posts should be no farther apart than six feet on the flat deck and no farther apart than 5 1/2 feet on stairs. Your local building department might require closer post spacing for added rail strength. Local codes might also dictate the method you use to attach the posts to the deck, such as using certain types of bolts or screws. When the rail is complete, the top of the rail should withstand 200 pounds of pressure from any direction.

railing systems
Vertical Deck Photo by Great Lakes Metal Fabrication

The Height

Install railings on any deck that is 30 inches or more from the surrounding surface and on at least one side of a stairway leading to the deck. The top of the handrail should be at least 34 inches but not more than 38 inches high. The same height rules apply to stairs, and the inspector measures the handrail height from nose of the stair tread. The handrail, itself, should be easy to grip, with a minimum diameter of 1 1/4 inches and a maximum diameter of 2 1/4 inches. You can’t use a two-by-four but a two-by-two as a handrail would meet code. Some large decorative handrails are permissible, as long as their design offers a finger recess that allows secure grasping.

Photo by

Simple Deck Railing Designs

When it comes to the simplicity, designing deck railing can be simplified by using the generic formula: the 2×4 handrailing

Cheap Deck Railing Ideas

Just because you build a railing doesn’t mean you need to spend a lot of money. Here are some ideas of a sturdy, mother-in-law friendly railing, quickly and in a low-budget yet still in fashion. All you need is a few basic tools and a little carpentry skills, and you’ll be able to have a proper project to go!

Cable Deck Railing

Commonly, a 316 grade stainless steel is used for railing. The cables diameters are available in 3/16” and 1/4 yet the 1/8” diameter is the most frequently used. A single cable consists of nineteen thin cables which are wound together.

outdoor handrail ideas
Photo by Danny Deck Construction, Inc.

Cable railing principally is a hybrid of materials, as the cables are fitted in frames of wood, aluminum or composite. Commonly, long cables can run straight through intermediate posts, leading for faster installation. Speaking of style, cable deck railing comes in variety of horizontal and vertical cable.

Pros: clear views, modern look, easy to install, low maintenance, customizable
Cons: clearly more expensive than wood, unfriendly to child, may not meet law code in certain areas

Vinyl Deck Railing

Vinyl is an easy choice if you want a railing with low-cost, low-maintenance, and no-frills. Furthermore, it is lightweight and easy to install. In addition, its non-porous surface doesn’t require painting or staining, though from a distance it can resemble painted wood.

Pros: inexpensive, low maintenance, lightweight
Cons: limited color options, cheap looking, may be stiff in cold weather

metal deck handrail
Photo by Deck Guardian

Composite Deck Railing

Composite is a wood-alternative material. It contains plastic, recycled material and wood fibers. In simple words, it is a blend of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and recycled wood flour which gives incomparable beauty, strength and weather ability. Nowadays, composite railing is getting more popular over wood railing due it’s low maintenance advantage.

Pros: durable, rust proof, high color retention, stains & fading resists
Cons: bulky, look heavy, looks similar to wood, moderately strong, labor-intensive install

deck railing ideas cheap
Photo by Timbertown

Aluminium Deck Railing

Aluminum deck railing is known over other railing materials as it is maintenance-free, durable, and extremely long lasting. For example, wood railing will start to deteriorate and iron railing is susceptible with rust (without proper maintenance) over some time, yet aluminum deck railing will remain the same as the day you bought it.

Moreover, it is lightweight yet still sturdy. You can count on on aluminum deck railing to stay strong through the years. In addition, there are lots of different colors and styles of aluminum deck railing to choose from. You’re sure to catch one that fits your style, your home, and indeed, your budget.

Pros: clean look, ease of install, can be used between any newel posts
Cons: modern look doesn’t mesh with all architecture

railings for decks
Photo by Renaissance Rail

Metal Deck Railing

Steel railing is a heavy-duty option that is great option for safety. It is heavy, durable, hard, and sturdy.

Pros: strength, ease of install, panelized versions available, adjustable stairs panels
Cons: possibility of rust, heavy to work with

diy deck railing ideas
Photo by Aspen Metal

Wood Deck Railing

Traditional wood railings are still a popular choice among others, and the reasons are clear: the classic look, elegance and economic aspect. However, it also needs lots of maintenance. Wood railings are easily damaged and require significantly maintenance to stain or paint on an annual basis. Above all, wood material is still the most well known in Deck Railing Ideas.

Pros: natural look, cheap, easily painted or stained to match decking
Cons: high maintenance, decayed easily, warping and bowing, obstructed views

Photo by Atlanta Decking & Fence Co., Inc.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.