Whether adding a deck onto your home or sprucing up an existing one, railings can make all the difference in terms of design. Sure, you can stick with a traditional rail and baluster, but other options exist in wood as well as in metal and glass. Check out the following information and examples of interesting railings for inspiration.
Certain elements can elevate wood railings to a more stylish level:
Caps - Think of railing caps as an accessory for your deck. They sit on top of the posts, come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and can even serve as a multipurpose feature. This example from Better Homes and Gardens shows caps with built-in low-voltage lighting that not only add to the ambiance of a deck, but also provide safe passage for those navigating the path at night.
Contrasting Colors - A uniform stain suits certain decks well, but a top railing of a different color complements many architectural styles. This example from Houzz shows a dark stain on the rail atop white balusters. A railing with a color that contrasts the color of the deck surface also works well. Another example from Houzz shows a white railing on a deck with a darker stain.
Patterns - Incorporating a pattern other than traditional vertical balusters also adds interest to a deck railing. A starburst pattern, as shown in this example , uses a cluster of balusters at the bottom center of the rail and fans them out. A Chippendale rail uses an X pattern with diagonal balusters, such as in this example from Better Homes and Gardens.
Metal deck railings allow for a nearly unobstructed view of the surrounding landscape. In this example from Better Homes and Gardens, a simple wrought-iron railing accommodates the visual, and the homeowner even added wrought-iron furniture to match. Steel also works well with a wood deck, especially when horizontal slats create a streamlined aesthetic, as seen in this example from Houzz and this one from Better Homes and Gardens. Other metals such as bronze and copper complement a modern architectural style well, such as in this example from Better Homes and Gardens.
Glass railings offer the least amount of visual interference. The glass used must be safety tempered and shatter resistant, and it can be tinted to help birds avoid hitting it. As it must be custom fitted, glass proves an expensive option. A glass deck will preserve any type of view, and often can be found on waterfront properties. This example from Houzz shows a glass deck railing allowing for a full view of San Francisco Bay.
No matter which elements you want to incorporate into your deck railing, be sure they complement each other and the deck and that they don't create too busy of a visual. Simply make a list and gather images of features you like before meeting with your professional handyman. Together, you can come up with a solution that suits both form and function, as the railing must also meet all safety requirements.
This article is part of the Deck Repair and Maintenance Series
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