Deck Railing Ideas: 3 Things to Know First

About the Author

About the Author

Mike Mitchell

Mike Mitchell is an award-winning deck builder and designer who specializes in urban decking, transforming cityscapes with his creative constructions. He is a second-generation deck builder.

Table of Contents

Deck railing provides safety for you and your guests while also offering an opportunity to achieve a beautiful, customized look for your Frankfort home. From the style of railing and baluster to colors and finishes, there are many choices for you to make. As you’re gathering deck railing ideas for your next project, keep these three things in mind.

A Railing System May Be Mandatory

If you have a patio or a ground-level deck, you may think about skipping the railing altogether. However, some structures are mandated to have safety rails in place. Building codes will vary based on where you live, so be sure to know what is necessary for your area before finalizing your deck rail design. In most cases, decks that are 30 inches or more above the ground must have a guardrail at minimum.

If rails are required, they generally must be at least 36 or 42 inches high, depending on the type of structure the deck is installed on. For example, businesses and apartment buildings may require taller railings and smaller baluster spacing than a single-family home. In most cases, these requirements are the minimum, so you are free to build your railing higher, just not lower.

How to Choose a Railing Type

Choosing a railing style will primarily come down to your preferences and how you use your outdoor space. To get started, consider the style of your home or building. If you have a sleek, modern home, intricate ornamental pieces will likely look out of place. In contrast, if you have an old Victorian-style house, a slick steel-and-cable railing style may not be a good fit.

If you do a lot of entertaining on your deck, you may want to choose railing with a flat top rail, sometimes called a “party rail,” as it makes the perfect spot to rest a beverage. If you enjoy a beautiful view, minimalistic styles and natural colors that blend with the landscape will suit you. Nosey neighbors? See what’s available that offers more privacy.

Composite vs. Natural Wood

While some people strongly prefer the look of natural wood, composite decking materials have come closer than ever to looking like the real thing. And they require considerably less maintenance than wood decking. If you think sanding, staining, and repainting deck boards is a challenging assignment, railings, balusters, and wood posts are significantly more tedious.

Composite rail materials are also more resistant to stains–a significant factor when considering a busy handrail. Composite is also resistant to fading from the sun and weathering from adverse weather conditions. Caring for composite is simple: hosing off surfaces throughout the year to remove dirt and debris will be your most common chore. A deep clean with approved products are only necessary periodically.

Style and Safety

Before digging into a catalog of deck railing ideas, narrow your search first. By understanding what your local regulations are, you’ll be able to avoid the disappointment of discovering that your favorite option isn’t allowed by local building codes. Then, look at the style of your home, how you use your space, and how much maintenance you are willing to do, and you’ll soon have a manageable list of options to choose from.

If you’re not sure what your local requirements are or need help choosing the right style for your home, we’re here to help! Our decking experts pride themselves on delivering custom decks and patios that are as functional as they are beautiful.