Deck Railing Plans, Cost and Design

A deck will always be incomplete without a railing, so for this reason it is important to lay out deck railing plans to help prepare for the installation. A deck railing can be constructed from several different materials depending on your budget, aesthetics and deck material. If your deck is made from pressure treated lumber, a vinyl deck railing may be out of place. This article will run through some of your options to help give you an idea of the cost and layout of what is available to you. Knowing your choices, you can proceed with the deck railing construction fully informed and stay within your budget.

Wood Deck Railing

A deck railing out of wood is probably your most affordable choice, but not necessarily. There are both hardwoods and softwoods to choose from when you opt for wood. Hardwoods include different species of cherry, cambera and purple heart. Typically hardwoods are much more expensive than softwoods. Construction is not the easiest with them because they require pre-drilling, sawing can be very difficult, and because they are so dense, they have a tendency to crack in the direct sun. A preassembled railing constructed of hardwood would like be very expensive. Buying the lumber and building it yourself would be less, but with the difficulties the wood presents, it might not be worth the trouble.

Softwoods, on the other hand, are much easier to saw and drill and less likely to splinter and crack because they are less dense. The best option for outdoor railings is pressure treated pine or fir, although cedar and redwood are two other options albeit far more expensive. Pressure treated softwood holds up in the weather and is much easier to work with. You will get the best price from either pine or fir.  

Vinyl Deck Railing

Vinyl benefits from the fact that it is synthetic, so manufacturers are always developing new and better materials. It comes in just about any color and can be molded to look like authentic wood. Expansion and contraction of the material, though, is one drawback. Vinyl has a tendency to warp if exposed to dramatic temperature changes over the long term. The cost of vinyl railing materials is comparable to the less expensive type of softwood, although because there are many manufacturers of it, it is likely to be cheaper than any of your wood options. A composite material like Trex is made from a recycled wood and plastic mixture. The wood protects the plastic from UV damage, while the plastic protects the wood from rotting, giving you the best of both worlds. Trex and other composites are more than wood per board foot but far less than many woods.

Metal Deck Railing

If you choose metal, more than likely you will be building with aluminum. It used to be that the price of metal was far beyond the reach of the average homeowner. With increased technology and mass production, the cost of metal railings will still be more than wood, vinyl or a composite, but it will be within reach. Metal is known for its durability and its design features. With metal, you don’t have to settle for plain vertical balusters. Rather, the design of the façade can be quite ornate, but it will be strong at the same time. Some metals, however, may rust and will need to be protected from the elements, but that is a small price to pay for the attractiveness of the material.

Whether you opt for metal, wood, vinyl or some type of composite for your deck railing, you will be able to find a material that is both cost effective and attractive for its intended use. Each material has its strengths and drawbacks including cost and ability to withstand the weather, but if you weigh each of them carefully, you will find the one that is right for your deck.