Making decisions about details on your new deck, like railing style, lighting placement or built-in amenities? Take some time to give these items careful thought. While they may seem small, deck details can affect your enjoyment of your outdoor living space for years to come. The details you choose today will affect your deck’s aesthetics as well as the cost of keeping your deck looking good in the years ahead. When you choose Archadeck of Fort Wayne to design and build your new deck, we help you weigh options for the small details, too.
Sometimes homeowners put so much thought into the big things—like choosing wood decking or composite —that they don’t give much thought to little things. Someone once said, “Attention to detail can make the difference between average and stunning.” We certainly agree! We see it every day. That’s why Archadeck of Fort Wayne’s preferred deck railing is Westbury aluminum rail. We also like TimberTech/AZEK composite railing products and use them often.
What’s Wrong with Wooden Deck Railings?
When you’re designing a deck with your builder, focusing on details means taking time to weigh the options for your deck railing. If you have chosen wood for your decking material, you may be tempted to choose wood for the deck railings as well. There are several reasons you might consider a wood railing. First, it would match the deck surface. Second, a wood railing might be less expensive than other railing materials. (More about this one later!) Third, you’ve seen wood deck railings for years, so they are familiar—and that may be part of their appeal.
Before we look at other railing options to consider, let’s examine those reasons you might select wood for your deck railings. It’s true that wooden railings can be more cost-effective than some other railing styles available today. That short-term cost savings might be short-sighted, though, if you want to keep the deck looking sharp beyond the first year or two. When it comes time for wood deck maintenance, sanding and re-staining or sealing the railings can be a lot of work—or expensive. You won’t want to sand and stain or seal the decking boards without refreshing the railings as well. That would look strange. This deck maintenance expense will recur every year or two, for as long as you want your deck to look good. After several years, the costs will add up and before long, the wood railings will no longer have been the less expensive option.
Why is Maintenance for Wooden Railings Expensive?
When we talk about deck railings, we are talking about the horizontal top rail as well as the vertical balusters or pickets. Some railing designs include a horizontal bottom rail, too. It’s the vertical pieces, though, that increase the expense of wood deck maintenance. We spoke recently with a homeowner who had a wooden deck with a wooden rail and was quoted $1200 to wash and seal his deck. Why was the quote so high? The tedious nature of maintaining the vertical wooden surfaces is what can drive up the cost of wood deck maintenance.
In terms of aesthetics, how important is matching a wood railing to a wood deck? If that’s your favorite look, then it’s an important consideration. Once you start looking at home improvement magazines and websites, though, you’ll realize how dated wood railings have become. Many homeowners know that you can update your deck by doing one thing: replacing your old deck railing with a newer railing style. Why, then, start out with a railing that’s already dated?
Which Deck Railing is Right for Me?
Many of today’s deck railing styles allow greater visibility from the deck. Wood railings tend to have thicker balusters or pickets, obstructing the view. Aluminum balusters are thinner, as are cable railings. Designers of today’s railing systems have developed railings and balusters that seem to disappear as you look through them into the yard. If that view is important to you, wood railings should not be your first choice.
When we’re designing a new deck for clients, we often suggest Westbury aluminum rail. They offer a variety of sleek and attractive railing designs, in a range of colors. Another option popular with our clients are the composite railing systems from TimberTech/AZEK. Westbury and TimberTech both offer the choice of round or square metal balusters, while TimberTech also offers square composite balusters. These companies offer railing products in several price points, so our clients are usually able to find a railing system they like that fits their budget. And if it’s a drink rail you want, both of these manufacturers have that option as well.
Aluminum and composite railings not only look better than wood railings, they are your low-maintenance options. The best railing selections can make a real difference in the aesthetics of your deck as well as its longevity and its maintenance requirements.
What Other Deck Details Matter?
When you work with Archadeck of Fort Wayne as your deck designer and deck builder, we’ll walk through additional “small” design decisions with big impact. One deck detail that appeals to quite a few homeowners is deck lighting. Deck lighting components include tiny LED fixtures mounted on a deck’s posts, railings and/or stair risers. Deck lighting can be subtle and effective at the same time. It adds ambiance to your deck after dark and increases your safety on deck stairs, too.
Because we create custom deck designs, we’ll explore additional deck amenities that can make a difference in the look and functionality of your deck. Examples of these custom details would be integrated bench seating and privacy screens. No detail is too small—or in some cases, too large—for our attention and craftsmanship. We want to design and build the perfect deck that meets your needs in terms of aesthetics, function, longevity and maintenance.
Archadeck of Fort Wayne is northeast Indiana’s premier designer and builder of beautiful, high-quality outdoor living spaces. If you are interested in learning how we can design the perfect deck for your home, call us today at (855) 931-4746 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Craig Whitman, owner at Archadeck of Fort Wayne.