Last Updated: October 17, 2019
A wood railing is a classic choice with roots stretching back to bygone eras. Chances are, you’ve relied on a wood railing at some point in your life, and perhaps you admired its charm and simplicity. However, as the years have passed, railing technology has progressed and wood has been pushed to the sidelines. Although it looks lovely after it is first installed, its susceptibility to rot, mold, and decay make it a high-maintenance, unreliable, and very vulnerable choice. With all of the options available these days, why would a homeowner choose to invest in a challenging material like wood? Instead, we encourage you to check out the best alternatives to wood railings.
Alternatives to Wood Railings
If you adore the appearance of wood railings but the maintenance responsibilities are scaring you off, look into vinyl (also known as polyvinyl chloride, or PVC). Many vinyl railings look virtually identical to painted wood railings, offering the same traditional design, clean lines, and white color. But unlike wood railings, they’re also durable, low-maintenance, and easy to install.
First created in 1872, PVC is the second most produced plastic in the world, and it’s used to create a variety of products – everything from shower curtains and floor tiles to raincoats and railings. It’s lightweight but strong: a valuable combination. And unlike wood, vinyl railings won’t rot, decay, mold, or mildew. There’s no need to worry about painting or staining them, or applying any sort of protective treatment. Plus, they can easily be cleaned with a hose or pressure washer. What’s not to love? If you’ve always dreamed of a classic white wood railing, vinyl may be the ideal alternative.
Engineered from high-performance materials, composite railings look like wood but won’t rot, warp, crack, or splinter. They’re strong, sturdy, and don’t require frequent upkeep. Plus, they’re available in a variety of colors and styles, making it easy to find a composite railing that complements your home. Like all outdoor products, composite railings will be sullied by dirt, pollen, and other debris over time. However, you can easily clean most composite railings with mild soap and water (some require a deck cleaner). If you wish to purchase a composite railing, you’ll need to sort through the plentiful options available: PVC-coated composites (also known as cap-stock composites), hollow composites, solid composites, etc. In addition, keep in mind that composite railings may fade or stain over time.
If you’re not particularly infatuated with the traditional look of wood railings, aluminum is another beautiful and low-maintenance choice. It’s highly resistant and durable, so it will easily withstand strong winds, rain, snow, ice, and insects. You won’t have to worry about decay or rust, and if you choose a powder-coated aluminum railing, it will be virtually maintenance-free.
No, aluminum doesn’t mimic wood in aesthetics, but depending on the product you choose, it can be classic or stylishly modern. It comes in a variety of designs and colors; in fact, some companies offer custom power coating colors, so you can choose the exact shade you want. Plus, aluminum railings are easy to install and affordable (especially when you remember that this is a once-in-a-lifetime investment). Your aluminum railing will likely outlive you, after all!
Of course these aren’t the only alternatives to wood railings. You could also look into glass railings, steel railings, or even cable railings, which each come with their own pros and cons:
- Glass: Sleek and modern, glass ensures unobstructed views. That said, it requires frequent cleaning to look its best, it’s expensive to ship, and it may increase the temperature of the surrounding space.
- Steel: Steel is strong and easy to install, but it may rust. Plus, due to its heavy weight, it can be difficult to work with.
- Cable: Cable railings also provide unobstructed views and a sleek modern design, and they require little maintenance. However, they’re also relatively expensive, not a great option for families with children, and they don’t meet buildings codes in certain areas.
I think we can all agree that wood is a beautiful, classic, and versatile material. It’s a great option for furniture, flooring, home decor, and more, but it’s typically not the best choice for residential and commercial railings. Railings need to safely support humans of all shapes and sizes, remain sturdy and strong, and contend with everything Mother Nature throws at them. Why choose a wood railing when the industry currently offers a variety of products that are far more durable, easy to install, and easy to maintain?
With a vinyl or aluminum railing, you would never have to worry about rot, rust, mold, mildew, splintering, painting, staining, maintenance costs, decay, the safety concerns that come along with decay, and on and on the list goes . . .
If you’re shopping for a new deck railing, check out MMC Fencing & Railing. In our online store, you’ll find everything you need to create a variety of different railing systems. We offer stylish and durable aluminum railings, classic and maintenance-free vinyl railings, and even the ultra-convenient ScreenRail, which keeps bugs at bay with a breezy screen. You might be interested in exploring the following products as well:
- Westbury Aluminum Railing
- ADA-Compliant Continuous Handrails
- PolyRail Vinyl Railing
- TRX Vinyl Railing
In addition, if you explore our blog, you’ll find a wealth of information about railings, including how to clean a vinyl railing, the benefits of aluminum railings, how to choose a deck railing, parts of a railing system, and more. Our FAQs page is a great resource if you’re wondering about the colors we offer, the warranty backing our products, and the process of creating polyvinyl railing and decking. If you don’t trust any company you haven’t received a personal recommendation for (we don’t blame you!), check out our Testimonials page. And if you would like to learn more about our aluminum and vinyl railing systems, please give us a call at 1-866-931-5002 or click here to request a quote. We look forward to hearing from you!