Last Updated: July 18, 2018
Picture this: You’re a homeowner or business owner, and you’ve just installed a brand new deck. Congratulations – you’re one step closer to enjoying the great outdoors from the comfort of your home or business! But what’s a deck without a stylish, sturdy railing? Not only do deck railings act as beautiful architectural additions; they also keep home residents and guests safe and secure while serving as barriers to protect children and pets. They can also be a crucial way to keep your business accessible to individuals with mobility issues or disabilities. It’s true that selecting a railing can be overwhelming. If you’re shopping for a deck railing, you’ve probably already discovered a market flooded with styles, materials, colors, and other options. So if you’re wondering how to choose a deck railing, read on for some helpful hints.
How to Choose a Deck Railing
Determine Your Budget
The first step to choosing your deck railing is to determine a considered, reasonable budget. To begin, review your finances and decide how much you’re willing to spend. Costs can vary widely when selecting deck materials, so make sure you have your price point in mind before beginning the process.
When determining your budget, remember to keep durability and maintenance in mind. After all, sometimes you get what you pay for when it comes to railing materials. Some deck materials may be slightly more costly, but they’ll be an investment in quality and safety for years to come. If you’d like to save a bit, consider checking out seasonal specials and clearance deals at material vendors. At MMC Fencing & Railing, we regularly offer specials and clearance sales to help our customers stick to their budgets.
Research Your Materials
It’s easy to get overwhelmed if you’re unsure how to choose a deck railing, especially when selecting materials. That’s because homeowners have a wide selection of potential railing materials. Possible materials include aluminum, vinyl, wood, iron, and even glass.
At MMC Fencing and Railing, we recommend that you stick with aluminum or vinyl railings. Although materials like wood and glass can make for a visually interesting product, aluminum and vinyl railings are durable, attractive, versatile, and virtually maintenance-free. Wood, on the other hand, requires frequent staining and sealing and can be prone to rot and decay. Glass, while trendy and unique, is hard to keep clean. Finally, iron is certainly durable, but it’s also heavy and hard to install and repair. You’ll want to select a material that gives you the best deal and ensures a long-lasting product.
Evaluate the Height of Your Deck
It’s easy for homeowners and business owners to forget about building codes, especially if they’re installing a deck for the first time. However, ensuring that your deck railing is compliant is a crucial step. First, evaluate the height of your deck – that will determine whether you need a guardrail or a handrail. If your deck is more than 30 inches above the ground or floor below, you’ll need to use a guardrail according to the 2018 International Residential Code (IRC). If your deck is lower than 30 inches above the ground, make sure to double-check code requirements to ensure your deck is as safe as possible.
Double-Check Building Codes
There are several other factors that will help you install a compliant deck railing. For example, is the height of the railing permissible? The IRC currently requires guardrails to be at least 36 inches tall when measured from the deck’s surface to the top of the railing. You’ll also want to confirm that the distance between rails is structurally safe. Finally, are your deck railing materials safe for building residents or patrons? A glass railing on a skyscraper deck may not be the safest choice, for example. To save yourself a massive headache, check all building code details before you start buying and building. This is a key component of learning how to choose a deck railing.
If a member of your family is physically disabled or injured, they can still enjoy your new deck. You’ll just need to make sure that your deck railing system is compliant with standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). For example, our ADA-compliant Aluminum Continuous Handrail features a lifetime limited warranty. It’s also available in all of our standard powder coating colors and a variety of custom colors. This is also a great option if you’re looking for a non-residential railing – an ADA-compliant railing for your business, for example.
Choose Your Color and Style
There are dozens of color and style options when it comes to installing a deck railing. Before you decide on your color and style, consider how you’ll use your deck. Are you looking for something ultra-trendy? Is privacy from spying neighbors a priority? Is the railing going to be placed on a vacation home where you’d like to watch the sunset? Does the railing need to serve a specific purpose – like allowing elderly patrons to traverse stairs safely?
After you’ve assessed how you’ll use your deck, explore your color, style, and texture options to find a railing that complements your deck, your home, and your personal taste. You’ll need to decide if you want a railing that matches or contrasts with your deck. You will also need to choose between fancy, decorative styles and simple, classic designs. For example, our Westbury Aluminum Railing systems are available in a variety of colors, and we can even customize your color depending on your needs. If you’re looking for a more classic feel, consider our polyrail vinyl railing, which will complement any deck or porch with a timeless touch. Take your time and choose carefully to ensure that you’re happy with your railing for decades to come.
If you’re shopping for a new deck railing, check out MMC Fencing & Railing. Our online store includes everything you’ll 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. If you’re not sure how to choose a deck railing that’s right for you, we’d love to help. Give us a call at 866-931-5002 or request a quote online.