While you may put a lot of care into choosing the decking materials that provide the floor of your deck, deck railings add just as much of an aesthetic touch. In fact, from most vantage points and when viewed from a distance, deck railings are the first thing you see. With that in mind, the railing you choose defines the look and style of your deck.
Railings come in a range of styles that can work with a variety of architectural categories -- spanning the gamut from “Victorian,” “Cape Cod” or even “Modern.” Choosing a railing that works with both your deck, and the style of your house is important to create a striking look that’s uniquely yours, without one element detracting from the other. For this reason, you’ll want to take your time to find the right railing, balusters, and other components to pull the look together. Take time to explore different designs, get inspired, and then find the perfect materials to create a deck railing that works for the deck of your dreams.
Depending on the view from your deck and from inside your house, you may want a railing you can look through with minimal obstruction, or you may prefer a more solid railing that calls attention to itself. Before you choose, research how expensive the railing will be, how difficult it will be to install and how much work will be required for maintenance in years to come.
Below we’ve provided a list of ideas and images for some of the most common designs and styles for deck railings.
Aluminum Deck Railing Ideas
Tidmore - Reveal Bronze Detail
Anything but basic, the look of bronze railing complements the rich tones of natural wood, giving a beautiful tonal style to your deck. Bronze railing gives an attractive, natural contrast to greenery, overlooking a tree-lined yard. This timeless style of Aluminum railing works well with a more rustic theme, as well as with elegant decking in bold light or dark hues.
Twin Lakes - Furn Round Alum
Aluminum railing never goes out of style. Sturdy brushed aluminum railing lends a contemporary touch to decking. For a fresh and modern look, pair aluminum railing with natural-look decking in a neutral tone.
Clean and simple, black aluminum railing gives a timeless look to a deck. Black railings and balusters go with nearly any style of deck boards, giving you the ability to refresh your look with a simple change of furniture or decor.
Rocky River - Checker Glass Furniture
A patterned deck -- such as this waterfront deck with a circular checkerboard inlay -- works best with a clean, simple railing that doesn't compete with the pattern. It ties the design together by using crisp, white decking to play off of the unique pattern. Glass panels installed between posts make the most of an ocean view while providing a layer of safety overlooking the water.
A gently curved aluminum railing compliments tone-on-tone patterns on this large, rounded deck. Deep bronze aluminum railings work with the darker accents to make it pop. Not only does the curve of the railing give the deck a jaw-dropping look, it amps up the tone-on-tone aspect of the decking in varying shades of brown.
Curved aluminum railings in rich brown provide contrast to natural tan wood-look decking. It gives your deck a coastal feel, no matter where you live. Matching aluminum balusters add dimension, while white posts bring a pop of color. This style of railing makes for a safe, sturdy addition to a deck and works just as well with beachy wicker furniture or a timeless wood rocking chair.
New Hampshire - Curve Furniture
Unique-yet-versatile, curved railings can work with nearly any style of decking material. Here's a rustic style deck with a fashionably weathered look that almost matches the curved aluminum railing overlooking the pool. The bronze aluminum tones of the railing give it a near-monochromatic style. The natural-look of the decking and brushed sheen of the aluminum railings bring polish to this look.
New Hampshire - Furniture
When you want "poolside" to sit a little higher, add a curved aluminum railing to an elevated deck, overlooking an inground pool in the backyard. Wooden Adirondack chairs are a near-perfect match to the decking material, giving it a color-coordinated feel. Add pops of color to your decor to change up your look, year after year.
Fire pits have become popular in recent years, making the backyard an outdoor extension of your living room in terms of a space to entertain guests. A dual-level deck with built-in seating at the foot of your railing -- right near the fire pit -- can make the most of the space and provide a dramatic touch for outdoor gatherings. Meanwhile, top-level railing gently spirals from the uppermost portion, all the way down to the lower-level, forming a semi-circle around the fire pit.
Leesburg Staircase - Down
This striking staircase has a semi-spiral feel, thanks to a curved railing in a contrasting hue. Deck boards in a deep brown tone are used for stair treads with railing balusters to match the same dark color. A lighter, but still-rich tan shade of wood is used on stair accents and the curved railing itself for a simply striking staircase.
Chantilly deck - Closeup and Rail
If your deck has a circular inlay, a curved railing can echo that design element. If your inlay features boards in a contrasting color forming the pattern, matching the shade of your deck railing to those deck boards can make for greater design harmony throughout.
Lighting Ideas for Stairs and Deck Railing
Monmouth - Overall Sunset Lighting - Spiral Stairs - Darkened
Beautiful-yet-functional, the addition of LED riser lights illuminate each step, making it easy to see where you're going and welcoming visitors during evening hours. Lights arranged in a pattern on either side of each step add tasteful charm to a staircase.
Adding post-cap lighting to deck railings on balconies or elevated decks on the home tie the look together and offer better nighttime visibility when enjoying your deck.
Many railings include lighting. These are most often placed on the tops of posts, but can also be installed on the sides of posts, or even on balusters. When installing lighting on a wood railing, you will need to cut holes and channels to run the wires. With aluminum and vinyl components, you can usually simply run the wiring inside the post sleeves, with little or no cutting required.
Mondavi - Cocktail Rail Detail
If you do a lot of entertaining, a cocktail rail makes for an attractive and practical addition to your deck or porch. This style of railing makes use of a deck board as the top of a railing bar and also provides a color-coordinated look, matching your railing to your decking. Better yet, a cocktail rail gives you a wide, flat surface to place beverages or other items when enjoying time outdoors.
Kushkabar - Cocktail rail - Furniture Aerial
There's no more perfect place to enjoy a lush backyard view than from an elevated deck. A cocktail rail built on either side of a built-in grill and food serving station makes for a beautiful place to entertain and serve guests. A curved cocktail rail not only adds a layer of safety to the elevated deck, but the wave formation creates visual interest -- and a place to rest a beverage or a small plate of party foods.
This curved cocktail rail matches the deck boards to the top of the rail, using white posts and slats for a sharp contrast. The light wood gives a relaxed, coastal touch to the deck. The overall effect opens the door to a variety of decorating possibilities to spruce up the space with colorful plants and pottery.
Wicker and rattan furniture can enhance the wow factor of a gorgeous deck and make it even more inviting. Contrasting tones within the weave of wicker furniture can complement light and dark tones of wood decking and railing components, pulling the look together. Cushions and throws can add pops of color for a relaxing backyard oasis.
With its sleek, minimalist design, rod railing has become a favorite among homeowners. Aluminum horizontal rods span between posts, giving a fresh, modern look. Its low-maintenance approach has only added to its popularity.
Horizontal rod railing looks great on an elevated or rooftop deck, offering a contemporary approach to outdoor style. Keeping the look casual-yet-classy, decor keeps the clean lines consistent throughout your outdoor space. Take a few classic outdoor decor elements -- like wicker deck furniture and large potted plants -- and give them a modern twist that plays off the linear look of rod railing. Opt for square-shaped pottery to add a jolt of green and lounge chairs that are more square than round to create a stylish outdoor space that works with trendy rod railing.
Railing manufacturers supply all the parts you need, including connectors. Individual railing parts, like balusters or graspable stair rail, may come in kits with predrilled pieces to speed up installation and help make spacing easier. You can also mix and match components - or combine manufactured parts with wood parts - to create a look all your own.
Of course, you need to keep practicalities in mind. Railing codes are designed to ensure that your railing is strong and free of openings large enough for a child to slip through. Read these railing codes if you want to know more.