Considering a backyard upgrade? We have ten deck railing ideas that will work with any home design style and “wow” your guests.
Deck railing options might not be as exciting as the statement chandelier or the art deco wallpaper you’ve been eyeing, but this detail is absolutely essential. The front porch is no laughing matter — there’s a good reason why a show literally called Curb Appeal ran for 26 seasons on HGTV.
If the front porch or patio is the perfect hors d'oeuvre, the back porch is the dessert that ties the whole feast (aka house) together. It requires thought, planning, and a mood board or two.
Take a look at these ten deck railing designs for your outdoor space, and you’ll have several railing options at the ready when you need them. Whether you are well-versed in DIY projects or want an easy-to-assemble kit, there’s a deck railing style for you. Many of these can work with the deck you already own and would be a simple upgrade for your deck or front porch, so don’t wait until it’s time to sell your home to enjoy your dream outdoor deck experience.
When choosing wood for decking, beyond which wood you select, think about how to conceal the deck boards. Will you use the picture frame method or something else? How will you attach the railing to the deck?
Once the basics of design have been decided, you can dig into the fun part of deck railing. Yes, there is a fun part to this: Finding a deck railing idea that works with your home design.
Thomas Chippendale, an American furniture designer from the 18th century, is known for his use of decorative, perforated splats on chair backs. The designs ranged from moderately intricate to very ornate, as is often associated with older historic homes.
Mimic this look on your wood deck railing by leaning into the chinoiserie latticework of later Chippendale design. Due to its vintage appearance, it can span home decor styles, from Asian-inspired to traditional.
Where Chippendale railings feature more curves and latticework, invoke the arts and crafts movement of the late 19th century by playing up the craftsman patterning of your deck railing infill. Stick with the straight vertical lines of the mission-style baluster or work in a little more geometry with a conservative amount of latticed millwork.
With more home designs returning to our craftsman-era roots of clean lines and flexible floor plans, this railing option has staying power and will be in keeping with the rest of the neighborhood.
Though any kind of deck railing can be painted white, a clean traditional New England-style white deck railing calls to mind old picket fences and beach retreats. Go for a traditional white baluster design with spindle newel posts, or create a farmhouse design with a cross pattern as your infill.
Modern home designs often incorporate curved and irregularly shaped decks, sometimes in tiers down a slope. A deck railing that curves and meanders along with the edge of the deck can make an ordinary deck stunning.
Though this style looks incredibly difficult to build, it is really just a matter of setting each picket along the picture edge of your deck and creating a custom curved handrail to top them. (This, however, does require a higher level of skill or a contractor.)
If the curved wooden railings mentioned above felt out of your league, you may be in the market for a curved railing deck kit made of PVC. Besides having all of your supplies gathered in one place, a kit would include pre-curved pieces ready to assemble with your posts.
Whether you go with a modern or traditional railing style, PVC is very low-maintenance and is lighter weight to work with. It doesn’t require weather-proofing, staining, or painting and can keep its new appearance for many years.
If you love the idea of natural materials but want the ease of installation and upkeep, consider using PVC for your railings and keeping a natural wooden deck.
Using horizontal cables between newel posts on your deck is a low-cost way to get a modern deck railing infill that crosses several design styles. Cable deck railing works for most modern looks because of its strong horizontal lines and its focus on newer materials. The stainless steel cable gives off serious industrial vibes, and this wire railing is often included in modern farmhouse decks and stair railings.
Along the same lines as wire railings, metal railings are clean, modern, and low maintenance.
The use of powder-coating instead of paint is what allows an aluminum railing to be so maintenance-free. It is heated and bonded with the surface of the railing to seal it off from corrosion. Powder-coated railing can endure extreme outdoor temperatures and weather conditions.
A simple, straightforward metal deck railing made of black pickets will have clean, strong lines and work with most modern homes’ metal window casings and exterior details. This modern railing also appeals to the minimalist with its simplicity.
The entire railing can be made of a black coated metal or only the balustrade and newel posts, with the aforementioned cables running through them.
You can add a touch of modern minimalism to your traditional wooden deck by using the metal railing for the infill beneath a beautifully stained wood balustrade. Some older decks with unsafe railings can be brought in line with current building codes by adding a metal infill beneath the handrail that runs along the top of the railing system.
Wrought iron railing can have a similar modern and minimal look as we already mentioned, but its traditional nature can also bring a European flair to your deck. Finish your Spanish-style villa with a scrolling wrought iron railing.
Wrought iron can be an uncomplicated Windsor-style railing or bring in arches and curves for an art deco touch to your home. Envision your outdoor space with Spoak’s room visualization tool to see which will suit you best.
Rather than using a baluster type of wood railing, run the boards horizontally for a slatted screen. The beauty of the wood slat deck railing design is that it can cover any home design style you throw at it by varying the size and color of your slats.
The natural wood pairs perfectly with farmhouse and boho looks, while the straight lines and petite slats work with modern and Asian-inspired designs. Slatted railings are also excellent for giving a little privacy to your deck.
Boost the functionality of your deck railing by letting it double as a back to your deck benches. Keep these very simple and picnic table-like, or combine several styles we’ve mentioned to create a meandering, curved conversation pit on your deck.
To maximize your use of materials and space, create hidden storage for your most-used outdoor tools and gear in the base of your railing benches. Top the seat with a weather-proof cushion and take a load off to enjoy how clever you are.
Speaking of clever, why not let your newel posts rise to greater heights and form a framework for a pergola that covers your deck? Deck railing posts are the perfect base for an outdoor pergola.
Once you’ve gone through the trouble of measuring your space and designing your deck and railing, replacing the original posts in your plan with taller posts isn’t a stretch. Your pergola will practically build itself (with a little help from some handy friends.)
If your home overlooks a stunning vista, you’ll appreciate the unobstructed views a glass deck railing provides. When glass panels are set between solid wood or metal balusters, you can enjoy the airy look of your deck. Smaller decks in small spaces can seem to stretch out without opaque railing infills to block your sightline.
If you are caught between a few ideas, wanting the look of natural materials but the ease of man-made deck railings, consider adding composite deck railings to your outdoor room. Composite railing (and decking, for that matter) are an eco-friendly option, combining recycled plastics with a small percentage of wood sawdust to form a durable decking material that looks more like wood but has the hardiness of plastic.
Though it is not all-natural material, you can feel good about the fact that those used milk jugs and plastic film are serving a purpose and not taking up space in a landfill.
And now you know more about deck railings than you ever thought you’d want to know. (Don’t say we didn’t warn you.) Are you starting to see which deck and porch railing ideas will work with the outdoor layout of your home?
Photo Credit: (Left) Homes to Love
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