Material selection is one of the decisions to make when choosing porch or deck railings for your new outdoor living space. There are many material options to choose from, including natural wood, metal, composite, and more. Which one is right for your home? Aesthetics, purchase cost, and what kind of care they may require over time are all important considerations. Read below for more about the benefits and possible downsides of today's most popular railing materials.
Classic Wood Railings
Natural wood railings are classic in style. They can be stained or sealed in a range of colors to complement any home. Wood railings are the most cost-effective material regarding purchase price. However, they require on-going staining, painting, or sealing and are not as durable as other materials. If not properly maintained, wood railings can dry out, splinter, rot, or get moldy. Wood railings are also susceptible to pests such as carpenter bees, wasps, and termites.
The wood-like appearance of composite railings gives them a classic look available in five styles and three colors. Although their aesthetic range isn’t as broad as natural wood, composite railing does not require staining, painting, or sealing. Composite railings require a greater upfront investment than natural wood, but they have a reduced maintenance cost over time. Composite railings are highly durable and will last for decades. TimberTech® Railings feature a 25-Year Limited Fade and Stain warranty as well as a 25-Year Limited Warranty on Rail Products. With just an occasional cleaning, composite railings can provide you with gorgeous, new-looking railings for decades.
Many homeowners love the modern look of glass and how the transparent material preserves their surrounding views. The cost of glass railings can vary depending on if you choose for them to be framed or frameless; however, overall glass railing is more expensive than other materials for comparable projects. Although glass is a very durable material and doesn’t require staining or sealing, it will demand constant cleaning to keep the railings picture-perfect. Having pets and children can increase the need for cleaning. And despite the amount of cleaning you may do, glass railings can still get cloudy over time.
Wrought Iron Railings
Wrought iron railings are available in traditional, modern, or ornamental designs to fit most style preferences. The black color of wrought iron projects a bold, clean look while also blending visually into the landscape for less obstruction of the view. Iron railings can be galvanized or painted. Galvanized railings require only basic cleaning to keep them looking nice. Painted metal will need to be re-painted over time. Wrought iron railings are both sturdy and weighty. Depending on your design and your deck or porch's size and placement, iron rails may require added structural support and can add up to be one of the more expensive railing materials.
Aluminum railings look as great as other metal railings but are lighter-weight and more cost-effective than wrought-iron. Aluminum railing is available in fewer styles than wrought iron its sleek design and modern appearance is making it increasingly popular with homeowners. Its durability and low-maintenance needs are also attractive to homeowners, who don’t want to spend an entire weekend of staining, painting, or sealing each year. The only care your aluminum railing should need is an occasional cleaning to remove dust and dirt.
Out of the different material choices, vinyl railings are the most affordable and low maintenance. Vinyl railings are available in a variety of colors and styles, although not as many as natural wood. The downside to vinyl versus other low-maintenance material options is it is not very durable, cracking easily from impact or exposure to large temperature shifts. Although vinyl does not require staining or sealing, it is prone to fading. Occasional cleaning can be done with a hose or carefully with a power washer.
At Archadeck of Raleigh-Durham, our talented team of outdoor living experts can help you choose the best railing material for your new outdoor living project. Call today to request a design consultation: 919-973-1523. We look forward to working with you!