Today’s deck-railing-patterns are as unique as the materials used to construct them. Deck railings are made up of posts, rails, and balusters and conform to the basic shape of the deck it surrounds. One thing they all have in common, regardless of the materials, is their dimensions.
Decks that are 30 inches or more above the ground are required to have deck-railings around the perimeters of the deck. Now that may vary slightly depending on where you live. The railing height will also depend on how far off the ground the deck is. For instance, a deck on the second story will have a higher railing requirement than a deck 2 feet off the ground.
I recently renovated my deck, which is only 24 inches above the ground so I chose a combination of rap-around stairs and railings. Basically, the perimeter of my deck has stairs, a bench, or deck railing.
I was looking for a more open feeling by adding stairs that wrapped around a corner to offset the closed wall-style railing with built-in bench. The wall helps to shield the decks occupants from the street while opening up to the rest of the yard.
Before I get into the different deck-railing-patterns, let me lay out some important considerations. The building codes in your area will dictate important height and spacing requirements. Once you know your building codes, the type of material and the patterns are as open as your imagination.
Below is an example of what you might expect to see from you local building code depart at city hall …also check out my how-to-build-deck-railing page for more info.
Traditional wood used in building decks is pressure treated pine. More costly wood is Ipe, Redwood, and Cedar. Wood is such a versatile material to use. The deck-railing-pattern combinations you can create are endless.
Traditional wood balusters are 2×2′s installed vertically and spaced about 4″ apart. Horizontal railings mortised into each post can visually compliment today’s modern ranch-style homes with prominent horizontal lines.
Composite decking material is very popular today but the cost is 3 or 4 times as much as pressure treated pine. Of course the longevity of these materials justify the cost …if you plan to live in your house the rest of your life. Another reason to use this material would be in extreme weather conditions.
Glass deck baluster are very desirable if you don’t want any obstruction of your view. A little more expensive of course due to the need for special glass for added strength and safety. Glass can also be bought in panels if you’d like the whole space between each post to be glass.
Metal railings made of copper or aluminum tubes, iron, stainless steel or steel cable railings add an industrial look and feel. They can be painted, flat, round or complimented with a decorative style set as a center piece. Your local home center carries a couple different styles with connectors that make installation a snap …even deck-railing-patterns involving stairs.
I’ve been talking about balusters for the most part but let’s not forget about the other part of your deck railing construction. Railings are basically 3 parts. Posts, which are anchored to the framing members and provide the main support. Rails, which connect horizontally to each post. Balusters which are placed vertically between the upper and lower rails.
Other deck-railing-patterns eliminate balusters altogether. A ranch style railing will have 3 or 4 horizontal rails that run from one post to another.
Check out these other pages on Decks: