It's most often the last thing you put on your deck or add to your patio, but railing serves an important purpose. For safety and aesthetic reasons, patio or deck railing is essential on many layouts. To choose the right railing for your home and to help the installation go smoothly, think about your personal preferences, the size and shape of your patio and the construction of your deck.
1) Think Purpose
Consider what you are going to be using your deck or patio for. Will you be entertaining a crowd or searching for some solitude? Will you want to watch the surrounding wildlife or simply see the book in front of you? The purpose of your patio will be the first determining factor in the choice of railing.
For hosting a crowd you'll want railing that helps to direct traffic and maintains an open feeling. Consider using benches as a barrier to provide extra seating or including multiple levels on the deck with railings installed in the higher areas and the lower decks left open.
A peaceful oasis out of the hustle and bustle means you will need privacy screens. Essentially a fence installed on your deck or patio, this type of railing needs properly supported posts. Either install them directly in the ground for a patio or bolt them strongly to the frame of your deck.
2) Think Perception
No matter what size your patio is, you'll want it to appear larger. Keep an open feeling whenever possible with railing that blends in. Black pickets made from aluminum are ideal for many designs and tempered glass gives you an expansive appearance even in a limited space.
Glass needs to be tempered for safety reasons and is often required to be a certain thickness to comply with building codes. Tinted or patterned tempered glass will help to cut down on incidents of birds flying into the railing. Also glass panels can be installed in wood, vinyl or metal channels, it goes up fairly quickly and is readily available.
3) Think Compliance
If your deck is more than a foot or two off of the ground you'll need to choose a style of railing that complies with local building codes. You may also need to install that railing with the proper hardware or clip system, so be sure to apply for your permit well ahead of time and get what you need to put the railing up.
You will also need to read the manufacturer's installation instructions carefully, especially when working with prefabricated sections.
4) Think Investment
This definitely doesn't mean to install the cheapest railing you can find. Investing in a railing that is durable and low maintenance will save you money over the long term. You also want to think of what that railing can add to your deck. Visual interest, safety and security as well as a structure for potted plants, storage and even furniture are just a few of those benefits.
Using stainless steel hardware for the installation may also be a bit pricier, but will result in a structure that's built to last.
Thinking about these four things will help you to choose the ideal railing. It will also help you to install it in the strongest and safest manner, resulting in a complete deck or patio your family can live better on.