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How to Choose the Right Railing for Your New Deck

How to Choose the Right Railing for Your New Deck
How to Choose the Right Railing for Your New Deck

Posted on Wednesday, May 30, 2018
By: Sequoia Supply
Categories: Composite Decking  |  Deck Construction

The railing that you choose for your new deck can make or break the entire design, features, and functionality. Don’t stop planning after you choose your decking, that’s only step number one.

Oh, my word. The exhausting choices in composite decking options these days are astounding! You’ve spent countless hours searching, designing, arguing, making notes and comparing features and benefits… to finally make a decision on the brand, color, material, fastening system, layout, configuration and direction of the deck boards, amenities, flow, functionality, etc., etc., etc.

Whew!! Thank goodness!! Let’s start building already!!

Not so fast friend. The railing that you choose to install on your new deck is – arguably – more important than the decking itself. The wood railings of old served mostly the functional purpose of not permitting your rambunctious child guests and somewhat inebriated adult guests to fall over the edge. Granted, that’s still an important feature of any deck railing installed on a deck surface that is more than two feet off the ground (or whatever your local code requires). Safety is most certainly paramount with every rail and all modern railings are required to meet code.

Got a great view? Consider curving your rails to mimic the sweeps of the garden below, or preserve your vantage point with sleek and spare rod rail. And entertainers, take note: wide, beverage-ready cocktail railing may just be the ideal choice for you.

But let’s take a look at the other important factors to consider when choosing the right railing to perfectly compliment your awesome new deck and surrounding property.

Wooden Deck Railing

Uh, just say ‘NO’, unless you are planning to sell within a month and just need something that will meet code and look appealing for a bit more than a minute. The fact of the matter is that a wooden deck and deck railing will never look better than the day they are installed.


Aluminum Deck Railing

Modern aluminum railings like Trex® Signature, Fairway A-Series, and Fortress AI-Series offer a multitude of benefits. They are durable, low maintenance, easy to install, affordable, light weight, strong and safe, sleek and clean, and can be bent and formed to fit popular curved deck shapes. The strength of aluminum permits narrower baluster and rail profiles which meet code while inhibiting the view through the rail much less than other styles. It is also very resistant to corrosion in climates not subject to high salt exposure. In extremely cold climates, aluminum actually gets stronger whereas steel becomes brittle in the same conditions.

Some Cons to aluminum include it being a soft metal, is subject to pitting, and has a greater expansion/contraction factor than steel which means fittings and gates may become tight in hot weather and loose in cold. However, as long as you choose a quality, well-designed system with a manufacturer that stands behind it, aluminum is an excellent choice.

Steel Deck Railing

Rugged and dependable steel railings like Fortress™ Fe26 railings have superior strength compared to most other rail types and are classically good looking while remaining sleek and clean. They are pre-welded, easily customized and enhanced version of traditional wrought iron railing that brings unparalleled quality to any patio, deck or balcony.

They provide a clean, classic appearance that is versatile for a variety of applications and surfaces. Pre-galvanized steel, zinc phosphate, e-coat and premium powder coating make them the most elegant and durable steel railing systems on the market.

Some Cons to steel include, in very cold weather it can lose some of its strength, and with repeated batterings from a winter storm, it’s possible – though very rare – for cracks to form. Additionally, if rust is permitted to form on steel, it can spread very quickly. However, if you choose a quality, well-designed system with a manufacturer that stands behind it, steel is an excellent choice.

Cellular PVC Deck Railing

Cellular PVC railings like Fairway’s P300 Series and Intex Millwork Solutions options are both beautiful and functional. They feature aluminum reinforced top and bottom rails and minimal expansion or shrinkage of product in extreme temperatures. They won’t rot, split, or swell due to moisture, which makes PVC a near-perfect option for professional deck and porch builders by reducing callbacks and warranty claims. They can also be bent and formed to fit popular curved deck shapes and include popular decorative panel options to dress your curb appeal.

Some Cons: PVC rails can be cut, coped, milled, routed, or drilled just like wood. Full line of custom newel posts and caps are available to add a highly customized wood look to your project. Paint adheres better to PVC than to wood, and PVC won’t rot, split, or crack.

Some Cons to cellular PVC are that they are softer and subject to impact damage, and cannot be painted dark colors due to expansion.

Vinyl Deck Railing

Quality vinyl deck railing options like Fairway’s V-Series are aluminum reinforced, low maintenance and have color throughout so that scratches aren’t as obvious, making it an easy choice for most applications. It is a low-maintenance, cost-effective railing system that doesn’t need to be sealed or finished, while providing a balance between great styling and superior performance and safety. They are engineered to meet performance and building requirements for outdoor stair railings, deck railings and more, providing safe, high-quality, and affordable products.

Some Cons to vinyl railing are that they are not available in dark colors and are softer, subject to damage.

Composite Deck Railing

Composite deck railing solutions are available from most major quality decking manufacturers including Azek, TimberTech, Trex, Fiberon, Zuri, Deckorators and Wolf and offer unmatched design flexibility with a wide range of colors, finishes, and options. They are more scratch resistant and weather resistant than softer vinyl options, come in colors to match or contrast or compliment the decking, and are notched to accept a variety of baluster options from composite to aluminum, to cable, and yes… even glass. They are functional, highly versatile and ideal for meeting building safety codes. They include easy configuration, low maintenance, and provide luxurious and attractive options.

Believe it or not, they can also be bent and formed to fit popular curved deck shapes and customize your outdoor space with a grand design statement! Expansion and contraction is also less than cellular PVC and vinyl products.

Some Cons to composite deck railing are that it’s – although highly durable – a capped product (not color-through) so extremely deep scratches will be visible with a different color beneath.

Tagged:Composite Decks, Deck Safety, Deck Railing

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