If you’re planning a deck or even if you’ve already built one, the next step to consider is deck railings. In fact, unless your deck is only a couple of feet off the ground, your local building requirements may require you to build one anyway. Regardless of your deck’s height, all railings must meet your local building codes. Here are the primary points you’ll want to think about before building your deck railing.

Whether you’ve already built a deck or you’re planning one, the material you want to build your deck and your railing with is of primary importance. Depending on your budget and your personal style, you can choose between brown or green pressure treated lumber (PT), cedar or a composite material made of wood and plastic particles, as well as aluminum, wrought iron and all-vinyl PVC railings.


Pressure Treated (PT)/Composites
If your railing will be made of one material only, you’ll likely want it to match the deck itself. A composite railing might not match a PT deck, for instance, as PT weathers at a different rate compared to composites. Similarly, a cedar deck railing is the best match for a cedar deck.


Maintenance is another key factor – as well as cost. Vinyl or aluminum railings may be less expensive than composite materials, and may require less work. While PT railings may need to be stained or painted after five or six years, aluminum, vinyl or composite railings need only occasional cleaning to maintain their appearance. Plus, aluminum and composite come in different colours and offers several styles of pickets or balusters to choose from.

Of course, a combination of materials – most commonly wood railings and posts with aluminum balusters – are also a popular (and cost-effective) choice. If you prefer the look of wrought iron, there are decorative iron deck-railing panels available as well as aluminum and vinyl railings that are painted to resemble wrought iron spindles.

More recently, aluminum railings have also been outfitted with LED lights (operated by remote control) to provide illumination as well as safety and style. These systems have been designed for ease of installation and don’t require any re-wiring or extensive electrical work.


If your deck has a prime location – looking out onto mountains, a majestic forest or a lake or ocean – you can make the most of your view with glass panels. Made of tempered glass so they won’t shatter if broken, they come in high, wide panels that can be fitted to either PT or aluminum railings.


Deck First. Railings Later?
While it’s preferable to plan your deck railings when you’re planning your deck, you can still install railings after the deck has been built, providing the necessary framing structure is in place. If you’re comfortable with DIY projects, installing deck railing should be within your skill set.

Regardless of whether you choose lumber or another material, it’s integral that your railing posts are strong, sturdy and anchored. Ensure they’re bolted down and secured properly – especially if your deck is on a second-floor balcony. If you’ve got a PT deck, you could even cut your decking out and drop posts down to secure them to the deck’s joists, for added stability.


Your Deck, Your Style
Ultimately, many of your deck railing decisions will come down to personal style and choice. Regardless of whether you choose a PT deck railing, an aluminum one or a combination of materials, consult the Experts at your local Home Hardware Building Centre or Home Building Centre for everything from tools and materials to more specific information – including your local building codes and all the permits you may require. You can also consult the experts at Home Installs if you’d prefer a professional install your decking railings for you.

Remember, your deck is something you spend time on – not necessarily something you spend time looking at. And what you’ll use your deck for – whether it’s grilling and dining or simply lounging and relaxing – should help you determine the type of deck railings that best suit your deck, your home and your family.