For many, a deck railing is little more than an afterthought or a safety feature that goes hand-in-hand with the deck, itself. The fact is, though, that the railings of your deck can have just as much of a visual impact on the back of your home as a picket fence can have on the front. Deck railings are undoubtedly a safety feature, but with today's designs, they can serve to enhance form as well as function.
The railings of your deck can have just as much of an impact on the back of your home as a picket fence can have on the front.
1.Choosing the Material for Your Deck Railings
There's certainly no harm in creating railings from the exact same material as the deck, itself. Since the modern market offers so many options, though, many homeowners find that looking at a material that complements the deck (rather than one that matches exactly) is simply more eye catching. Whether you end up using a different kind of wood or a different material altogether, the visual benefits of mixing and matching tones and hues can really set your deck apart.
There are several practical benefits of using a higher-end material for your railings, as well. First, better materials are going to last longer and age better. This means that they will offer superior stability in an area where stability is key. Additionally, choosing a material like metal for railings means that there won't be any splinters forming on the area of your deck that gets the most hand contact. Deck railings can range in price dramatically (estimates put some low-cost railing materials at around $15 per linear foot, while the most expensive materials can cost nearly ten times as much); while many folks do not have the financial flexibility to build their entire deck out of a very high-end material, they may have enough to accent a less expensive deck with the very prominent appearance of a high-end railing.
2.DIY Deck Railings
If you've already decided to build your own deck, the plans you purchase (or draw up yourself) will likely include all you need to know about installing the railings. However, since some homeowners may choose to have the majority of the deck built by a professional and do the railings unassisted, some companies offering metal, glass, cable, composite, and wood railings offer kits designed to make the installation of their products DIY-friendly. No matter what kind of material you choose, the most important aspect of deck railing installation is stability. Buying professional plans or railing kits can be very helpful in achieving that stability because they will have specific instructions on how to properly anchor the railings securely.
3.Caring for Your Railings
Obviously, the care of railings that are made of the same material as the deck will be similar, if not identical. However, choosing a different material for this component may mean that you will need to perform different tasks to keep it looking good and performing well. In nearly all cases, a thorough washing at least once a year will be necessary; with some materials, this may be all the maintenance your railing requires. Ever.
4.Dealing with Building Codes
In some areas of the country, building code is virtually non-existent. For most people, though, railings are one area where code will be strictly dictated. Conforming to code is a necessity for your safety and the safety of others who will be using your deck, and failure to take these regulations into account before you build can lead to some very time-consuming alterations after the fact. In most cases, the plans and kits available for do-it-yourselfers will take common regulations into account, but it is always important to make sure that your railings (and the rest of your deck) are build to the standards in your particular neck of the woods.