Last Updated: December 10, 2019
A new railing can transform the aesthetic of your home or business’s exterior. Of course, it’s also a major investment – and, as with any major investment in your home or business, it is important that you consider your options carefully and weigh the pros and cons. There are several factors to keep in mind with a new railing, including the product’s strength, durability, cost, maintenance, and aesthetic appeal. Weighing the pros and cons can be tough, as there is a wide variety of railing options currently on the market. With options including wood, aluminum, vinyl, glass, and wrought iron, you might be asking yourself, “What are the best railing materials?”
Best Railing Materials
Factors to Consider When Installing a New Railing
Identifying the best railing materials for your project may seem daunting. In reality, it’s as easy as addressing several important factors. Keep in mind that outdoor railings experience significantly more wear and tear than indoor railings. For that reason, durability should be at the top of your list of factors to consider:
- Durability: Durability is essential for any handrail, especially those located outdoors. When shopping for railing materials, ask yourself – how will the handrail hold up against extreme weather conditions? How long can you expect it to last? Finally, will you need to pre-treat the handrail to fend off damage from weather and pests?
- Maintenance: You take pride in the exterior of your home or business. That being said, no one enjoys maintenance tasks. As you evaluate your handrail options, be sure to ask about the maintenance required with each material. You may need to seal, paint, or clean your handrail to protect its beauty and functionality.
- Aesthetics: As you’re evaluating handrail materials, make sure to consider aesthetics. A few factors to consider are color, style, whether or not the handrail matches the design of your stairs or ramp, and how the handrail’s color meshes with that of any nearby architectural structures.
- Value: Cost matters. Make sure to identify your budget before you start shopping for a new railing. From there, you’ll want to weigh the railing’s overall value – for example, the initial cost, as well as potential maintenance, repairs, and replacement costs. A generous warranty is also key.
Best Railing Materials
Aluminum railings are durable, and you won’t have to worry about them corroding, rusting, rotting, splintering, twisting, shrinking, or warping. These popular railings will also stand firm through rough weather. Durable aluminum provides a strong structure that will remain safe for many years to come, making it a great choice for regions with volatile climates. Additionally, aluminum railings are virtually maintenance-free. Although you may want to occasionally hose off your railing to remove dirt and debris, you don’t need to worry about painting, staining, or otherwise treating the railing. You can also rest assured that aluminum railings won’t crack, chip, or peel, maintaining their beautiful style and color for years. Finally, aluminum railings are relatively easy to install, and they are built to last a lifetime.
Steel is another option for your outdoor railing. This durable railing material is known for its superior strength and toughness; however, steel is also less aesthetically pleasing, without the style and color options of aluminum. Steel is extremely resistant against scratches and dents, so if you’re more focused on utility than appearance, steel may be a good choice for your home or business.
Many of the attributes and benefits of aluminum railings also apply to vinyl railings. Vinyl is five times stronger than wood, making it an excellent choice for an exterior railing. Vinyl won’t rust, decompose, blister, rot, peel, or become the target of pests like termites, maintaining its attractive appearance without any maintenance. Another selling point: Vinyl maintains its look and feel effortlessly; the railing’s color won’t fade, and the railing doesn’t need to be stained, painted, or sealed. This is a major selling point against vinyl’s main competitor: wood. Vinyl railing is also cost efficient, so it won’t need to be replaced for many years, and it can provide a great amount of privacy depending on the style you choose. Additionally, vinyl railings offer the most flexibility in terms of style. While most customers choose to stick with classic styles and traditional ornamentation, you’ll also find vinyl railings with sleek lines and speckled patterns. Plus, vinyl can mimic the appearance of wood, making it an ideal alternative without all the maintenance and hassle.
Other Railing Materials
Vinyl and aluminum are both excellent choices for your new railing. However, you might also consider the other options available on today’s market, including wood or wrought iron. Many homeowners choose wood railings for a rustic look; however, it’s worth noting that vinyl can mimic the look of wood. You will also need to seal wood to protect again weather, UV rays, and pests. And despite that, wood railing will inevitably deteriorate faster than aluminum or vinyl. Finally, wrought iron railings are popular for their delicate appearance; however, they aren’t a great option in terms of sturdiness.
The sheer amount of options on today’s railing market can be overwhelming. You could spend a great deal of time and effort researching all of the railing options available, but one thing is certain: aluminum and vinyl railings both offer excellent aesthetic value and durability. For those reasons and more, aluminum and vinyl are the best railing materials money can buy, regardless of the location of your home or business.
If you’re shopping for a new railing or have more questions about the best railing materials, 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, classic and maintenance-free vinyl, and even the ultra-convenient ScreenRail, which keeps bugs at bay with a breezy screen. 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!