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How to Choose the Right Railings for Your Deck or Porch

At Archadeck of Raleigh-Durham and the Greater Triangle, we take pride in helping you design the best outdoor living space for your home, within your budget. Part of the customization process is choosing specific materials and design details for your new structure.

For most structures, an important design detail is what type of railing will be used. Deck railings and porch railings provide protection from falls, enhance the aesthetics of the deck or porch, and are typically required to meet building codes.

Railings come in all shapes and sizes, and in a range of prices. So, how do you choose? Aesthetics play a big role, but there are other factors to consider as well. Our professional design team will walk you through the details and help you find the railings that are best suited for your project.

What Parts Make Up A Deck or Porch Railing?

What is a railing, exactly? Railings are made up of several different components. Typically there are multiple materials and design options for each one, many of which may be mixed and matched.

Parts of the deck

Posts – Posts are the vertical columns that attach your railing to the deck or porch below. They are usually 4×4’s, and their spacing and locations are dictated by building code.
Post Caps – If utilized, post caps are the finishing feature at the top of each post.
Rails – Rails are the horizontal components lining the top and bottom of a railing section. The top piece, where you would put your hand for guidance, is called a handrail. The bottom rail is also known as a toe rail.
Infill – The infill refers to the space between your top and bottom rails. A variety of materials can be used in the infill, such as wood, composite, iron, or glass.
Baluster – Balusters (sometimes called spindles or pickets) are the decorative components used in the infill to support the top rail. If the railings do not contain a bottom rail the balusters may run directly into the flooring.

Five Deck Railing Considerations

When selecting the components of your deck or porch railings, here are five key areas to consider:

  1. Legal/Building Codes
  2. Budget
  3. Material
  4. Color
  5. Shape/Style

Building Code Guidelines for Deck/Porch Railings

Local building codes contain strict rules for railings based on the height of a deck or porch. At Archadeck, we will only offer you railing options that satisfy these requirements and will pass a building inspection.


porch railing options in RaleighAs with other deck and porch design choices, railings come in a broad array of price points. We’ll help you find a railing option that brings together your design priorities and your budget, within the context of your overall project. Railings may or may not be where you want to spend a significant portion of your project budget.


Today’s deck and porch railings come in a variety of material options, such as wood, composite, aluminum, metal, wrought iron, or glass. In addition to how the materials look, you should also consider what kind of care they will require overtime. Wood railings mean regular staining, painting, or sealing. Glass requires cleaning. Composite materials are low-maintenance and easy to keep clean.


The color choice of your railing will have a big impact on the final design. First, does it complement your home style and other decking materials? Secondly, does it meet your goals for how you want to enjoy the space? For example, white is a popular choice for creating a classic picket fence feeling, while black and dark grays provide more unobstructed views of the yard.


designer deck railingsIn addition to color, you will also need to choose the style of your railings, including the baluster shape (round, square, thick, thin, etc.). Decorative elements include ribbon twists, curves, basket, and collar details in the center of the spindles.

A thinner infill is a good choice if you want to minimize visual barriers to your backyard. However, if you are seeking more privacy in your outdoor living space, a wider infill or even privacy screening would work better.

Once you have designed the overall structure, additional railing considerations include low-voltage lighting, post trim, post wraps, gates, and decorative hardware.

Railings add beauty and safety to a custom deck or porch style that is uniquely yours. Choose from classic combinations of shapes, colors, and materials or go for something modern and sleek – the choice is yours. If you are ready to explore railing options for your deck or porch, give us a call: (919) 446-5585. We look forward to working with you!

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