DECK Railings

How To Plan, Design, Build or Buy The Right Deck Railings for your backyard 

Deck railings is a huge topic to discuss. But almost every deck needs some kind of railing system. So do you build your own? If so what are the best ways? What about composite, aluminum, vinyl, or glass options? There is much more than wood to choose from.

Let's discuss what you need to know so you can build, and design yourself - or hire the right contractor so you can experience the visual and physical impact of a beautiful secure railing that accentuates your home.

RAILING & POST IDEAs

Try a continuous cap rail, or posts above the cap rail, or varying post dimensions to provide visual interest and balance.

DESIGN TIPS EXPLAINED

A few quick design suggestions to create the appearance and feel that best suits you and your home. 

PLAY WITH BALUSTER DESIGNS FOR UNIQUE INFILL LOOKS

Common 2x2 baluster designs make up a big part of backyard decks. Here is how to mix and match designs to get more visual interest from a common 2x2 wood picket railing.

1. CHOOSE THE material for your RAILINGs that YOU LIKE...

2. BUILDING tips for railings

Height & Spacing

These deck railing height diagrams are a great reference for your design and building portfolio. 

Load & Strength

A few quick suggestions to create the appearance and feel that best suits you and your home.  

Framing Posts

See how to securely attach wood posts into framing for practically any situation.

Surface Mounting Posts

The rise in popularity of deck railing post anchors is no surprise.​​​​​​​  It saves on complicated blocking techniques, extra hardware and notching the decking around posts.

Stair Railing

Now that the deck is framed the next step is start thinking about attaching railing posts. 

Baluster Calculator

Railing sections can differ in length.  This calculator helps you center the grouping of balusters so the spaces between the two opposing posts and the balusters next to them are similar in size.

3. the basic steps of INSTALLING wood RAILINGS 

For the person starting out, here is a primer on the general steps in the process of building a simple common wood railing for your backyard deck.  This is something you can do by yourself.

step 1 - Installing posts to railing

Learn the essentials of  joist connected railing post. See details such as where in the joist bay to place a post and how to properly block it.

step 2 -installing upper and lower rails

Using commonly available rail connectors the average DIY'er can build a an affordable, nice looking and long lasting wood railing.

step 3 - choosing the infill 

The infill selectio makes the railing.  So you can start with simple 2x2 wood pickets for the balustrade or move up to metal balusters, glass or even cables.

HAVE YOU EVER TRIED THIS?

Snap 'n Lock™ Baluster Connectors are pleasantly surprising homeowners and builders across the country.  Sideways installation makes installing your railing faster and easier than plug systems.  What used to be two-man job is now easily and quickly done by one person and the look is elegant and luxurious.  Go Shop today!

Shadow rail & snap'n lock baluster kit installation

Installing The Snap Lock Baluster System

How to Install our Metal Post Caps

How to Use Our Wood Post Skirts with the Titan Post Anchor

AS SIMPLE AS SCREW, SNAP & LOCK

SCREW

Screw the base into the 2x4.

SNAP

Snap in the baluster.

LOCK

Slide down and lock the collar.

Sideways installation makes this possible!

step 1

step 2

step 3

step 4

4. Buying a modular railing system 

It you want to buy a modular railing system be it a metal, composite, vinyl or hybrid, here are the basics elements of any of these railing systems. 

metal (steel or aluminum)

Elements:

1. Post Cap

2. Post Sleeve

3. Post Sleeve Skirt

metal railings components

Step 1: installing posts

Surface mount posts to the deck surface.  This could be finished metal or aluminum posts or structural steel posts.  Plastic, vinyl or composite post sleeves are then installed if necessary.

STEP 2: Caps and skirts

Post caps and trim pieces or post skirts are then installed over each post.

Step 3

Railing sections are usually pre-assembled and are fitted between each pair of posts.  They are either slid vertically or horizontally between posts and then set at the correct height before securing.

FINISH

Once the section is in place it is secured using proprietary fasteners and connectors provided by the manufacturer.  Mid-span bottom rail support is often provided for come systems prone to sagging over long spans.

Check out Color Guard Railing systems wide array of metal and vinyl clad railings.

COMPOSITE

Elements:

1. Post Cap

2. Post Sleeve

3. Post Sleeve Skirt

Composite railings components

Step 1

Composite or vinyl clad systems usually rely on joist mounted or surface mounted wood posts.  Once the posts are secured a composite or vinyl post sleeve is slid over the post.

STEP 2

The next step is to install the cap and post skirts.  Or if you prefer this could be done after the upper and lower rails are in position.

Step 3

The horizontal rails are usually hollow composite or metal in the case of vinyl clad systems.  These must be attached to the post at certain heights to match the balustrade components. 

Step 4

Usually the balustrade is comprised of balusters (pickets) but can be glass panels or even cable wires in some cases.  There are many different manufacturers which offer a variety of options.

FINISH

The finished railing is ready to be enjoyed for decades to come.  

See Fiberon decking for a variety of composite railing systems.

popular topics in the forums

learn more about building decks from builders and people like you. It's like hanging around the office watercooler!

Sanding, staining and every other aspect of keeping your deck in tip top shape.

Deck Maintenance and Repair Forums

Everyone wants the investment they put into their deck to last.


The Deck Foot Anchor is a great solution for most types of decks.

DECK FOOT ANCHOR FORUM

Great discussions about using the Deck Foot Anchor™. Listen in and see if it is a good solution for your next project.

The Titan Wood Post Anchor is a great solution to have in your building arsenal.

TITAN POST ANCHOR FORUM

The Titan Wood Post Anchor™ is a real work horse and solves a lot of problems. Find out how people use it.

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