Vinyl Deck Railing Reviews & Comparisons
Vinyl deck railings have only existed in the market for a few years, however, the ease of installation, low maintenance requirements, and cost-effective nature of vinyl has helped them rapidly gain in popularity.
As with any material, there are pros and cons. That’s why taking a moment to learn a few things about vinyl deck railing materials can help you determine whether or not they’re right for your project.
- Vinyl Deck Railing Pros and Cons
- Vinyl vs Wood Railing
- Vinyl vs Composite Railing
- Vinyl vs Aluminum Railing
- Vinyl Deck Railing Reviews
Vinyl Deck Railing Pros and Cons
Vinyl is a wonderfully resilient material which can retain its original appearance for decades with very little maintenance. It’s typically invulnerable to most of the weathering damage that wears down wood. Additionally, vinyl railings are UV-resistant, water-resistant, and scratch-resistant.
As with the patina of leather, watching the natural aging of a material can be a beautiful thing. However, vinyl may not have as pleasing an aesthetic over time. Vinyl railings don’t hold paint well, which means your color options are limited to those that the manufacturer produces. Moreover, this material has an inescapably modern aesthetic that may look out of place in an environment with an otherwise vintage style.
Vinyl Railing Material Comparison
Vinyl vs Wood Railing
The price of wood railing ranges between $20 and $50 per linear foot, depending on its quality and design elements. Vinyl has a similar average range around $20 to $40 – a price difference that continues to favor vinyl as the costs of routine maintenance for wood begin to accumulate.
In terms of maintenance requirements, comparing vinyl vs wood deck railing unanimously favors vinyl. Because wood is biodegradable, it requires the regular reapplication or stain or paint. Even with diligent maintenance, it can remain vulnerable to rot, infestation, warping, and cracking.
Vinyl shares almost none of the same requirements. Some of the only things you’ll ever need to maintain a vinyl deck are a hose, a rag, some mild detergents, and the occasional use of a low-power pressure washer.
Provided that wood railings are regularly maintained, you can expect them to last for about two decades before repairs may be necessary. You can find many vinyl railing products with warranties lasting at least two decades. However, environments with extreme weather conditions may accelerate the aging of vinyl, making it prone to cracking or peeling.
It’s often said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but when comparing wood vs vinyl deck railing, there’s no denying that wood provides more style options. Because paint does not readily adhere to vinyl, your color choices are limited by those offered by a given manufacturer. Conversely, wood can be painted any color. It can also be stained to retain a natural beauty that vinyl can never fully replicate. On the other hand, vinyl tends to have an easier time retaining its good looks as the years pass.
Vinyl vs Composite Railing
In addition to differences in the quality of the material, some colors and style options cost more than others. You can find composite railing at around $15-$30 per linear foot. Vinyl tends to be slightly more expensive, with an average that’s closer to $12-$20 per linear foot.
Aside from occasionally spraying down your deck railing to keep it clear of debris, very little routine maintenance is necessary for maintaining vinyl. Composites provide an equally low-maintenance alternative.
Vinyl has an average life expectancy that rests between two or three decades. Composite railing has an expected lifespan in the same general ballpark - around 25-30 years. It’s worth noting that some composites are more resilient than others, and vinyl, in particular, can age more rapidly if used in an environment that exposes it to extreme temperature fluctuations.
Choosing between vinyl vs composite railing often comes down to style considerations, and composites typically provide a wider range of color options. There are also many customization options available that approximate the natural appearance of wood. In addition to typically having fewer color options, vinyl has a shiny, slick appearance that looks more artificial compared to natural wood or composite.
Vinyl vs Aluminum Railing
As always, costs will partially depend on the quality of the material. However, you can find composite railing available around an average of $20 to $40 per linear foot, and aluminum between $40 to $70 per linear foot.
The maintenance required for both vinyl railing and aluminum railing is minimal. Both materials will benefit from occasional power-washing and intermittent rinsing to remove dust and debris, but otherwise won’t require special care.
Likewise, in practice, the lifespan of vinyl and aluminum deck railing is quite similar. The average lifespan of vinyl railing is around 20-30 years. As a much harder material, aluminum railing has an average lifespan of at least 25 years, but can last even longer with minimal maintenance.
Aluminum can be fairly adaptable, helping it to match nearly any environment. By contrast, the appearance of vinyl is inescapably modern in a way that can look out of place when surrounded by an otherwise vintage aesthetic. However, if you want to access more than a small handful of colors, it’s often necessary to special order aluminum railing. Vinyl also often comes in a variety of colors, but if you’re looking for something particular that you cannot find, you may also want to consider placing a special order.
Vinyl Deck Railing Reviews
If you decide that vinyl railings are the best choice for your home, reading reviews can be an important step to selecting the best railing system for your needs and preferences. Gathering information by reading product reviews may help you to narrow your choices to some of the more trusted brands in the industry:
Weatherables Vinyl Deck Railing
Having a wide range of style options is arguably Weatherables’ greatest strength. Between top boards, decorative accents, rail tops, and various alterations to the spindles, Weatherables vinyl railing products have more than a dozen distinct style options. Their railing kits are code tested and include all necessary brackets and installation components. Pricing is generally between $25-$55 per linear foot, depending on height of the railing.
RDI Vinyl Rail
RDI Vinyl Rail has three main lines of products: Endurance, Titan, and Finyl Line. Enhance is their most basic consumer option, intended for a more cost effective approach to vinyl deck railing. Titan was made for creating extra-strong structures that require rapid installation, using preinstalled brackets on posts and reinforcing structural beams with steel. And their Finyl Line emphasizes style, including LED accessories, various infills, and nearly half a dozen unique balusters.
When shopping for vinyl deck railing, weigh your options. Look for a product that is known for quality, longevity, and durability. You’ll also want to consider cost and style options as you’re making your choice. Ultimately, careful research can help you find the best railing for your needs and give you years of enjoyment.