The railing greatly influences the overall appearance of a finished deck, by having strong horizontal or vertical lines, an open or closed appearance, or a polished or rustic look. However, the main reason for railings is safety.
Railing codes typically require a railing that is 36″ high with balusters spaced no more than 4″ apart. Always be sure to check your local building codes to know what is required in your area. No matter the requirements, inside your local code limits there are many railing options available. By combining different types, lengths, and styles of railings and balusters, you can create a railing system that suits your style and needs.
All railings are made up of a variety of components. Posts are the structural component of the railing, usually made by 4x4s of lumber or composite. They keep the railing from wobbling and provide the main support that holds the railing up and people inside. Balusters are the vertical pieces that extend from the top railing to the bottom railing to fill in the spaces between the posts and make a “fence.” Bottom and top rail pieces run horizontally between the posts and form the bottom and top to which the balusters attach. Post caps and skirts are decorative designs that cover the posts and may contain lights or other architectural features.
Deck Railing Materials
Just like decking, railing is available in a variety of materials. The most common railing is pressure treated. 4x4s are joined by treated handrail with balusters. The balusters are typically 2×2 and can be square, beveled, or turned. Cedar and Mahogany rails, posts, and balusters are available in similar styles to pressure treated, allowing you to coordinate with your decking.
Becoming more popular are composite and vinyl railings. These railings are made with similar materials as composite decking and can be coordinated. Some brands come preassembled and are easy to install. Overall, composite and vinyl railings provide for years of maintenance free use with coordinating beauty.
Also available are aluminum and other metal balusters. These products allow for architectural interest while allowing for the mixing and matching of other materials. No matter the railing you choose, your friendly Curtis Lumber salesperson will be happy to help you make the right railing choices for your deck!
Adding a privacy screen, post caps and skirts, or lights to your deck might be just the thing that is needed for your decking project. Lattice panels are easily installed in areas where privacy is needed or below a deck to keep animals out. Post caps and skirts also add intricate personal detail to your deck and allow you to make it your own. Deck lights add light for nighttime entertaining or architectural interest. Your local Curtis Lumber has hundreds of ideas on how you can finish your deck off right, be sure to check them out!