The rise in popularity of deck railing post anchors is no surprise.
Anyone who has experienced the ease and speed of installation, eliminating notching of decking and tricky carpentry skills, or all the hardware required for setting posts into joists knows this intimately.
The most common railings that utilize surface mounted posts tend to be aluminum railings or some of the PVC and composite railings.
Here we see typical aluminum posts bolted to the deck surface through a base welded to the post.
Here is a plastic molded post base that fits externally around a 4x4. For simple jobs around the house they work quite well and are cheap.
you need to build an real "guardrail" that can meet the horizontal load
requirements in the building code, exercise caution as these things are useless for that purpose.
However, for a non-life threatening application like a deck below 24" above grade, this kind of an external anchor works fine.
It's highly visible and not at all what you would ever want to have on a beautiful backyard deck.
Here is a
stronger external metal post anchor but it is not the type of thing most
homeowners would want to see at the bottom of each of their deck posts.
Aside from the dominance of the anchor itself, the bolts and brackets are completely visible. These anchors are better suited for applications where a nicely finished product is not required.
Some homeowners use these anchors, even after spending thousands of dollars on renovation and deck upgrades.
Not only are these two examples not engineered for railing anchors, but this doesn't look that great either. And eventually these anchors end up looking rusted and beaten up.
This is a proprietary 4x4 wood and aluminum rail system by an innovative company called DekTek. It uses a single lag screw and a formed base to create beautiful appearance.
Very clean looking - the anchor and fasteners are completely hidden. If all the railing is tied back to the house and there are no unsupported runs, it can be quite strong.
The only downside to this surface mounted post anchor is that it really should be used with their railing system to be strong enough to meet the code. It is not as strong if you try to install a few posts by themselves.