How to choose a deck railing?

Almost every deck needs a railing.  Railing is a very visible component of the deck and you want to get something that you will enjoy looking at as well as something that will not require much maintenance.

Wood railings may be nice looking at the beginning, but over time they will warp and crack and you can easily catch a sliver just resting your hands on them.  Wood railings also require a lot of maintenance.  Maintaining a wood decking surface is hard, but the railings – even harder.  Imagine staining each vertical baluster on all four sides.  Our recommendation is to forget the wood railing.

Aluminum Picket Railings are the most popular choice right now and there are many good reasons for that.  Aluminum railings are relatively inexpensive and they require no maintenance.  Aluminum railings are also installed very quickly.  They do not obstruct the view as much as the wood railings do and they will never crack or splinter.  Aluminum railings come in different colors, but black is most popular.  We carry several brands of aluminum railings at our Ottawa Deck Shop – Fortress, Alumarail and Century Railing.  We can help you calculate the railing that you need for your project.

Aluminum and Glass Railings are also very popular. As their name suggests they have aluminum frames and glass panel inserts.  The glass that is commonly used is safety tempered glass between 4 mm and 10 mm thick.  These railings cost a little more than the typical aluminum railings and the glass does need a little bit of cleaning from time to time.  We carry these railings in the Fortress, Alumarail and Century brands.

Frameless Glass Railings look very modern and they almost don’t obstruct any views.  Thick panels of glass (10 mm, 12 mm or even 15 mm thick) are inserted into clamps or different kinds or into continuous u-channels. These panels of glass can also be attached to the deck or the porch on round standoffs.  These railings are the most expensive, but they add significantly to the overall look of the project.

Composite Railings are manufactured by the same companies that manufacture composite decking.  Trex, Fiberon and Timbertech all have their own lines of composite railings.  These railings are typically more bulky-looking than aluminum railings.  These railings look more like wood, but they do not require any maintenance.  The only downside of these railings is their high cost, difficulty of assembly and low availability.  

Cable Rail Systems are excellent for those who are looking for a nice modern look without having to maintain the glass.  These railings are not cheap, but for some clients it is definitely worth the investment.  Please note that horizontal cables are not allowed by the Ontario Building Code, we recommend installing only vertical cable railing systems.  We carry the Fortress brand of vertical cable railing.