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Which Porch or Deck Railings Should I Choose?

Porch and deck railings are necessary and are often chosen without much thought to the design appeal they could offer.

However, if you have researched these railings to any degree, you might have found out on your own that a railing is not a railing is not a railing. By that, we mean that while all porch and deck railing styles we build into our outdoor living spaces will be up to code, performing the duty they were meant for – protecting people and pets from falling – every railing is not the same style. And some of our railings have additional functions to their standards of protection. There are also disparities in pricing across the different types of porch and deck railings available. Here is a simple guide to the types of railings you might choose for your project.

Aluminum deck railings are the least costly and practical.

Our standard porch and deck railings are full-aluminum railings. Though you will spend less on these railings, we recommend them for their low-maintenance quality, as well as their longevity. Painted aluminum railings are easy to care for, needing only a simple wipe-down or spray when they become dirty. These porch and deck railings are corrosion-resistant, made to last for decades of use in your outdoor living space. Installing these railings is additionally straightforward, requiring no additional labor time.

Screen porch with Aluminum porch railings

Wood and aluminum specialty deck railings are well-priced.

Another option for aluminum railings is to install aluminum pickets into a pressure-treated wood frame. This can produce beautiful results, as you see here with these aluminum belly balusters. While the wood framing option is cost-effective, you must remember that wood will require maintenance every one to two years. This will require money and time if you do it yourself. This must be considered when choosing the type and style of railing that you want for your space. Additionally, choosing a specialty infill like belly balusters could bump up your overall cost.

Covered deck with belly baluster infill railings

Hybrid aluminum and composite porch railings are a bit more expensive.

There are a few things that our clients love about choosing a hybrid composite and aluminum deck or porch railing system for their project. The low-maintenance and long-lasting nature of aluminum railings that we spoke about above are two reasons. There are two additional reasons these railings are popular. First, they cohesively blend the materials used for the decking and those used for the railings. Secondly, installing a composite railing top cap offers a popular function, known as a “drink rail.” Composite drink rail top caps are quite usable when you plan to entertain on your porch or deck, as they can be used as a drink or snack ledge. They might also be used to introduce decorative accents to your outdoor space, like planters and trinkets. These railings are not more expensive due to additional installation time, but due to the price of composite materials.

Screen porch with hybrid aluminum and composite railings

Cable railings are the upper echelon of porch and deck railings choices.

Cable railings are beautiful, there is no doubt. They are a break from the designer norm and can offer your porch or deck a truly unique aesthetic. Aluminum railings with stainless steel cable infill will bring the ease of low maintenance to your outdoor space, as well. They offer a nearly see-through view for decks and porches, as the cables are super-low-profile, measuring only 3/16”. If you have ever seen cable railings on a deck, you have probably noticed that the cables merely fade into the foreground as you peer through them. These are the most expensive railings we install on our decks and porches. They are more expensive to install, requiring more time and special tools to get the job done. The materials will come at a higher cost, as well, because the cable infill is high-grade 316 stainless steel, which prevents corrosion in outdoor spaces. This railing system will require additional post material too, as corners and changes in direction will require double-posting.

composite deck with aluminum and stainless cable railings

A Summary of Porch and Deck Railing Styles, Pros and Cons:

Here is a simple run-down for quick reference.

  • Full aluminum porch and deck railings are cost-effective, long-lasting, and low-maintenance.
  • Hybrid wood and aluminum porch and deck railings are cost-effective but require maintenance.
  • Hybrid composite and aluminum porch and deck railings are mid-range priced, low-maintenance, and highly functional with a drink rail cap.
  • Aluminum and stainless steel cable porch and deck railings are long-lasting, low-maintenance, and beautiful, but they will cost you at installation and because they have a premium stainless steel infill.

Also read: Which roof style is best for your porch?

Ready to talk about your new porch or deck design in the Kansas City area? Get in touch with our award-winning designers for a complimentary consultation at (913) 851-3325.