Building out your deck or patio is only part of the equation when it comes to creating an inviting outdoor space. The deck railing is going to be just as important to consider. Do you want something that is unique and attractive in its own right—or do you want something that blends into the background and allows you to take in the view beyond your deck space?
'A deck railing creates a barrier, of course, so that people and objects don’t stumble off the porch—but it also provides privacy and a visually interesting part of the porch or deck, ' says Emily Perez Lead Home Designer at Kitchen Infinity. 'In short, a porch looks incomplete without a proper railing.'
Looking for a creative and practical solution to complete your patio or front porch? Below, we’ve rounded up some of the coolest deck railing ideas that promise to spice up your patio while also providing a safe and secure barrier.
1. Make it Metal
'Metal, I believe, is the best material to use for a porch railing,' says Jack Miller, Founder of How I Get Rid Of. 'For one, it won’t be easily affected by weather elements unless you’re using ferrous materials. For two, they’re both very easy to install and maintain. The material itself is also very adaptable to whatever shape you plan to go with.'
2. Consider Glass Panels
'One alternative would be to use glass panels as railings,' says Miller. 'Especially if your deck is in front of a scenic view, the glass finish can help spruce up the aesthetics. In the same way, a low wall could also work if you want to highlight the view in front of you.'
3. Go for Repurposed Wood
'I've seen some great iron railings made of repurposed balcony mahogany and iron railings,' shares Joe Flanagan, Interior Design Expert and Founder of 90s Fashion World. 'Not only is it a great option for circularity, it also looks like a million bucks but it is very budget friendly.'
4. Consider Window-Inspired Bars
'I've also seen some people use window bars as railings—like the colonial type that are very ornamental,' says Flanagan. Think of it as an extension of a traditional Juliet balcony.
5. Pre-loved Boat Pieces
Another great idea, depending on the style of your house, is to repurpose maritime wooden pieces off boats. 'You can often find pieces of the boat deck, some poles and a bunch of thick boat cords,' says Flanagan. 'Consider following a nautical theme if you are into the sea or by the ocean.'
6. Care for a Cocktail
A cocktail railing is going to be your best bet if you tend to host friends and family on a regular basis. The main characteristic that sets cocktail railings apart is the thicker, flat ledge that doubles as both a railing and a small spot to place drinks and plates.
7. Paint it white
LA-based interior designer Sara Simon of @handsome.salt with photographer @jenny_siegwartr shot this beautiful white metal railing deck. Simon says 'My advice for railings is to have fun with it. We have so many codes here so it makes it tricky to sometimes get really creative. I always see cool railings while traveling and am like, they definitely don’t have codes here. This railing i wanted to be a statement piece where as I kept the interior more simple but used a similar material'
How high a railing must be and the max width any gaps can be is all for safety reasons.
8. Integrate Railings with Screened-in Porch
Scott Walker, CEO of Screenmobile, suggests creating integrated railings with a screened-in porch. The low profile system feels more like an additional room than a standalone porch and will allow for at least three—if not four—seasons of use and enjoyment.
9. Go for an Aluminum Railing
The best and most commonly used type of railing is aluminum railing. 'People prefer using aluminium mainly because of its low maintenance costs and durability,' explains Emma Sophie, Founder of Evergreenseeds. 'It does not erode or rust like other common railing materials. Even though aluminum railing costs more than wooden railing, it is still cheaper than iron or steel ones.' Aluminum railing is also comparatively easier to install so it saves time too.
10. Go for Classic Lattice
Classic lattice can be a great option for more cottage-inspired spots. You can use it as an add-on like the porch shown here or completely replace your metal or vinyl deck railing with a lattice finish. Make sure to select a strong lattice or combine it with a sturdy wood material to ensure it holds safely.
11. Try Using Steel Cable
A commonly used, and highly recommended alternative for porch railing is stainless steel cable. 'The biggest advantage is that it gives you enough space for a clear view between the cables,' explains Sophie. 'There are two ways you can install this cable; surface-mounted or through-post, whatever aesthetically fits better to your porch.'
12. Invest in Vinyl Railings
Vinyl railing is the standard type of railing used by almost all Americans. It is one of the most convenient, low cost and low-maintenance options available in the market. So the prize for affordability and style goes to this type of railing. According to Garth McAlpin, Architecture, Designer & Director & National Fulfilment Manager of Classic Architectural Group, the lifespan of these railings is over fifty years, and you only need to use soap and water to clean them—which makes it a great option if you want a low maintenance patio.
13. Matching Porch Posts and Railings
According to Justyn Nolt, General Manager at Turntech Custom Turnings, matching your front porch posts and railings creates a fully integrated porch design. Adding these timeless design elements to your home will foster a modern Victorian-inspired home style that is both sophisticated and comfortable.
14. Consider Mixing Materials
Mixing materials—like vinyl and wiring, for example—is both eco-friendly and economical. Not only does it allow for less of a single material but it also offers a unique and modern finish that will instantly bring your porch into the twenty-first century.
15. Save Space with Built-in Furniture
Working with a smaller sized deck or patio? Consider opting for a space-saving bench kit while building out your deck. This smart solution allows you to build furniture right into your deck railing and will free up space for much more standalone furniture, plants, and other deck must-haves.
16. Consider a Privacy Wall
Your deck railing doesn’t have to stop at hip height! A privacy wall requires a bit more material but will afford you a cozy oasis without risking eye contact with your neighbors. You can add a privacy wall on just one side or build it up all around for a truly private outdoor space.