Libby Smoot, July 20, 2016
While railing provides an obvious and necessary safety function, it also serves an important aesthetic role by creating a decorative frame for your outdoor space. Railing defines your personality and style.
Paul Lafrance, one of our “Trexpert” deck designers, urges homeowners to consider railing from the outset of the deck planning process. Lafrance, of HGTV’s acclaimed “Decked Out” series, says railing is a key element to any deck design and your decking and railing decision should be made simultaneously as “a purposeful pairing.” Railing should never be a last-minute decision.
Lafrance has teamed with Trex to provide some tips for selecting just the right railing look. They are:
Consider views and privacy
If you want to enjoy the view beyond your deck, look for railing that you can easily see through. Thin balusters finished in black are a good choice as they tend to blend into the environment, putting more visual emphasis on the natural surroundings. Conversely, if you have neighbors who live close enough to see onto your deck, you may want to consider railing with thicker posts and more tightly spaced balusters to enhance privacy.
There are many materials available for railing these days, including wood, aluminum, composite, PVC, iron and glass. Although a classic, wood requires frequent staining and sealing and is prone to rot and decay. Glass requires a lot of upkeep, and iron is heavy and can be difficult to install. Aluminum, composite and PVC all offer durable, attractive and versatile options that are easy to work with and maintain.
Comply with local building codes
In most cities, there are codes and legislation that regulate the construction of decks and deck railing. For instance, the International Residential Code (IRC) requires guardrails for any deck elevated 30 inches or more off the ground. Some municipalities also have codes related to specific building products, so be sure to check these details before you start buying and building.
Decide on color and style
This is the fun part of the process, but it also can be overwhelming considering the myriad railing options available today. Trex alone offers more than 1,200 different decking and railing pairings. While it’s nice to have choices, that’s simply too many options for anyone to consider. To simplify things, use one of the following proven approaches to achieve a successful decking and railing pairing.
You can never go wrong by selecting railing in the same shade as your decking – dark brown railing for a dark brown deck, or light grey railing to complement light grey boards. This creates a cozy, well-coordinated look and is a great approach for risk-averse homeowners.
If you have trouble finding a perfect match for your decking of choice – or if you’re open to trying something different – consider a contrasting railing color, such as black or white. Both are classic options that complement virtually any decking and outdoor aesthetic. Classic white looks crisp against darker decking. Alternately, if you’re working with lighter decking, a contrasted look can be achieved by selecting darker railing. Dark colors give a deck a modern look and feel. They also are a good choice to showcase a home’s natural surroundings since dark railing tends to visually blend into the background.
Change It Up
If you consider yourself design savvy and want a distinctive look for your deck, let the creative juices flow and go for a completely customized look. Don’t be afraid to mix colors and materials, such as combining dark aluminum railing and balusters with white composite posts to create a dramatic look that delivers a sophisticated mix of texture and color.
To make the decision even easier, we have applied “the three C’s” to some of the most popular Trex decking colors. These expertly curated Decking and Railing Duos reflect a variety of regional, architectural and personal preferences, and each comes with an ordering guide and materials list to help you replicate the look of your choice.
The deck-railing combination you choose will have a major impact on the overall look and feel of your outdoor space. While you need to follow building codes and maintain safety, keeping the beauty of your landscape while also enhancing privacy are important considerations. For the best results, choose a railing that is sturdy, easy to maintain and reflects your personal style.
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