18 Creative Deck Railing Ideas to Update Your Outdoor Space

Flowering plants in garden outside house
Photo: Laurie Black

Outfit your exterior living spaces in style with eye-catching deck railing ideas. The wide variety of materials and styles includes wood, metal, and horizontal deck railing designs, so you can choose the one that best suits your home's style. Whether you prefer an ornate or simple deck railing, these designs will dress up your deck with long-lasting appeal.

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Wood Deck Railing Design

multi-level wood deck with potted plants
Stephen Cridland

Look to your home's surroundings to determine the best deck railing design. If your backyard is filled with lush landscaping and leafy trees, for example, consider a wood deck railing that blends in with the natural setting. To help the deck stand out against all the greenery, choose an exterior stain with a slightly orange or red tone.

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Deck Stair Railing Ideas

backyard garden deck stairway
Marty Baldwin

Deck stair railings increase the safety of your outdoor spaces, but they're also an opportunity to add style. This deck railing combines richly stained wood with horizontal metal rods in an aged bronze finish to make the staircase a focal point of the yard. The smaller vertical support posts are cut in an angular shape instead of straight down to add more dimension.

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Lattice Deck Railing

two light-blue cushioned chairs in front of upper railing wood design on deck
Edward Gohlich

Lattice is an often-used deck railing, and for good reason: It adds visual interest and provides a barrier for added deck privacy. But if lattice is too traditional for you, try a personality-driven version that reflects your deck's style. Here, the Zen-like feel of this deck is accented by repeating, floating squares on the top portion of the deck railing.

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Built-In Deck Seating

view of deck throw pillows on bench, chair, round table
David Tsay

While wood deck railing designs are usually chosen for aesthetics, this deck railing has a practical purpose. Instead of typical vertical slats, this version uses horizontal slats to create a backrest for a built-in bench. Surrounded by towering trees, this deck is a hub for gatherings made all the better thanks to comfy seating.

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Matching Deck Railing Design

Flowering plants in garden outside house
Laurie Black

In a yard where the landscape is the star, this deck railing design stays in step with the other building elements rather than standing out. The white railing matches the home's window casings, both in color and scale. Accent balusters spaced across the deck railing add character.

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Mixed-Material Deck Railings

green deck furniture design metal railing
Peter Krumhardt

Even simple deck railing designs can add style to an outdoor space, especially if you employ a little creativity. Here, metal rods, instead of the typical wood slats, offer a color and material complement. Bonus: Metal deck railing components often need less-frequent refinishing than wood.

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Transitional Deck Railing Ideas

plant pot metal deck rail
Laurie Black

Slender metal deck railings make a thoroughly modern statement, but incorporating traditional wood elements creates a transitional design. Here, metal slats are run between top and bottom wood railings, with wide wood posts every few feet. The resulting installation balances modern minimalism with classic deck railing design elements.

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Metal and Glass Deck Railing

glass pane deck styling
Alec Hemer

Mixing metal deck railings and other unconventional materials is one way to add custom style to your home. This contemporary-style house updated its deck railings with an interesting combination of metal and opaque, break-resistant panes of thick glass. The duo offers privacy while allowing light through.

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How to Choose Deck Materials

Updating your deck? Learn how to choose the right materials with these helpful tips. Whether you're planning a new deck or a deck makeover, here's what you need to know to select the best deck materials. Explore different styles and find the look that's right for your home, budget, and lifestyle.

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Stylish Deck Railing Design

horizontal deck railings seating area
Matthew Benson

Local building codes determine the spacing and placement of railings and may offer some material guidance. But after you've met the code requirements, you can exercise creative muscle for the design of the railings. This modern outdoor space uses a mix of materials, including thicker vertical supports, thinner horizontal metal deck railings, and stylish wood rail-top pieces, for a sleek, contemporary look.

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Decorative Deck Railing Ideas

ornamental embellishment deck
Greg Scheidemann

End caps are a simple ornamental embellishment that adds style to an ordinary wood deck railing design. Here, they dress up a small deck on this cottage-style exterior. The eye-catching pattern inside the deck rails adds traditional flair to the space.

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Monochromatic Deck Railing

blue green table and chairs wood deck
Robert Cardillo

Some mixed-material decks use multiple colors as part of their design. But if your deck furniture already supplies plenty of color, you may want to tone down your deck railings so they serve more as a backdrop than a focal point. In this outdoor space, railings made from man-made materials and wire surround a creative collection of furniture, sculptural containers, and distinctive plants.

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Deck Railings in Different Heights

small table deck railing design
Werner Straube

The setup of your deck may influence your deck railing design. Shared side yards, for example, may demand more visual screening. Additional privacy was the motivation for the tall trellis wall in this space, 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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Deck Railings to Match Exterior

horizontal wood deck railing
Laurie Black

Many deck or porch railing ideas create a sense of separation from the rest of the home, either in orientation or materials. This house does the opposite, using a deck railing design with tighter spacing and a horizontal orientation, which mimics the line of the home's other exterior materials. The streamlined style gets a boost of visual interest from varying widths of wood deck railings.

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Metal Deck Railing Ideas

diy metal deck railing green blue colors
Adam Albright

Metal can be a great choice for a simple deck railing design 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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Deck Railing Design Tricks

metal wood deck table and chairs
Laurie Black

Even slight visual tricks can be enough to give your deck railings a one-of-a-kind feel. For example, create a pattern to break up the monotonous feel of a wood deck railing design. Here, the homeowners decided on a set of three as the distinctive factor. Another eye-catching option: Mix materials in the rail itself, such as alternating one metal piece with one wood piece.

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Decks Without Railings

ground level end-cap deck railing
Laurie Black

For ground-level decks, building codes may require 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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Architectural Deck Railing Ideas

carved pillars deck style lake view
Eric Roth

Curves and angles are great ways to play up a home's architecture. Particularly when the rest of a space is fairly ornate, simple, airy porch railing ideas can help provide visual openness to the surroundings. Here, a curved deck railing design lightens the look of carved pillars and heavy materials.

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