12 Creative Deck Railing Ideas
Banish the boredom from your outdoor living spaces with a dozen creative deck railing ideas.
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Update the Traditional Lattice
Lattice is an often-used deck railing, and for good reason: It adds visual interest and provides a barrier, too. But if old-school lattice is too staid and traditional for you, try a personality-driven version that reflects your deck's style. Here, the Zen-like Asian feel of this deck gets handsome accent with the repeating, floating squares of the top portion of the railing.
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Even a simple design twist can add pretty, visual complexity to a deck railing. Many wood versions, for example, use plain vertical pieces. Here, simple metal rods offer a color and material complement. Bonus: Oftentimes, metal may need less-frequent refinishing than wood.
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Try Solid Materials as Railings
Our homes have become as individualistic as we are, which means rules about details, such as deck railings and decorating in general, may no longer apply. This contemporary-style house updated its deck railings with an interesting combination of metal and opaque, break-resistant pieces of thick glass. The duo offers privacy but allows light through as well.
How to Choose Materials
Updating your deck? Learn how to choose the right materials with these helpful tips.
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Work With Your Deck's Style
Local building codes determine the spacing and placement of railings and may offer some material guidance. But after you’ve met your must-do list, you can exercise creative muscle for the design of the railings. This modern-meets-outdoors space gets its forward-thinking set of details from a mix of metals -- thicker vertical supports, thinner horizontal railings -- as well as stylish wood rail-top pieces.
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Add Decorative Accents
End caps are one way to add a simple ornamental embellishment to what would otherwise be an ordinary deck. Here, their style adds a bit of design "oomph" to the small deck. Another copy-worthy feature: The stylish but straightforward pattern inside the rails adds traditional flair to the space.
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Try a Monochromatic Color Scheme
Many mixed-material decks use multiple colors as part of their design. But if your deck furniture already exhibits its own colorful exuberance, you may want to tone down your deck railings so that they serve more as backdrop than focal point. This outdoor space, with railings made from man-made materials and wire, acts as supporting cast member to the creative collection of bright furniture, sculptural containers, and distinctive plants.
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Use Deck Railings of Different Heights
The setup of your deck may influence the variety you put into use when creating a deck railing. Shared side yards, for example, may demand more visual screening; that was the motivation on this space for the tall trellis wall, which is softened with a vertical cascade of vines. A more traditional deck railing offers separation between seating space and the rest of the yard, while a long container supplies a spot for interesting blooms.
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Use Deck Railings as an Extension of the House
Many deck railings have a sense of separation from the rest of the home, either in orientation or materials. This house upends that rule, using the more solid detailing of the railings to extend the horizontal view of the rest of the deck and siding. It’s a clever twist that also gets its visual interest from a repeating selection of various widths of wood deck railings.
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Forgo Wood for Another Material
Metal can be a great choice for a deck railing that recedes into the background of a space. It's sturdy, needs less upkeep than wood, and can often provide structure, support, and protection with thinner pieces of material. Here, the homeowners added pretty end caps and a simple top rail, separated from the vertical pieces, for visual interest.
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Become a Railing Magician
Even slight visual tricks can be enough to give your deck railings that one-of-a-kind feel. For example, create a pattern that interrupts the monotonous feel of rail-after-rail -- here, the homeowners decided on a set of three as the distinctive factor. Or, mix materials in the rail itself -- one metal piece, one wood piece -- for an update on tradition.
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Skip Railings if You Can
For ground-level decks, building codes may require different, less extensive deck railings than for those above ground. That’s why it’s important to research your local ordinances and options, which can help to determine details that best fit with your home. This lush landscape remains the focal point of a narrow side yard, thanks to simple end-cap rails that blend in as nearly organic elements.
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Play with Architecture
Curves and angles are a great way to play up a deck's and a home's architecture. Particularly when the rest of a space is fairly ornate -- here, carved pillars and heavy materials -- a light, airy, curvy deck railing can help provide visual and physical openness to the surroundings.
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