When thinking of installing decking, one of the things you might take for granted is the quality of the railings used on the structure. Most people don’t think much of them, but they are actually one of the most important parts of any decking. They offer an important safety feature, and also play a huge role in making sure that the entire decking is visually appealing as well. If you take it for granted, you may end up with a deck that is technically of high quality, but which looks shabby if the railings are not well done.
In order to avoid this, you should pay attention to how you install them. You should be keen on how you install the decking rails right from the design phase to make it work with the rest of the system. Some of the factors you might need to consider in order to facilitate this include:
Your local legal provisions
Different legal jurisdictions have different laws governing the use of railings in decking. In many parts of the world, whether or not to use them is the prerogative of the homeowner. However, in most western countries, you might need to adhere to a few laws regarding this. In most of the United States, for instance, you are legally obligated to install decking if the deck is more than 30” above the ground for safety purposes. In most cases, you will be required to install railing that is at least 36” in height.
The type of railing you should use
You can’t afford to use any random type of railing particularly if you are keen on getting the best aesthetic effect from it. There are a few things that should guide you in choosing the most ideal type of railing. Some of these include:
• The theme of the home: You should strive to ensure that the home style is congruent with the type of railing you get. For instance, if you have a home that has a colonial or Victorian theme, it would be wise for you to invest in railings that are made in the same design.
• The view: The main point of getting decking for many people is to enjoy the outdoors. This is particularly so if you have a great view, say of a forest or a nice garden. If this is important for you, you might want to showcase the view. Using a railing system that causes obstruction is not wise in such cases. It would be better to get clear acrylic panels or black metal balusters to enhance the visibility.
• Maintenance: How committed are you to maintaining the railings? If you are the kind of person who might not want to spend a lot of time and money cleaning the deck, you could go for a simple, clean design for the railings. Minimizing complexity will make it easier to clean the entire structure in a short time. You should also consider getting railings that are made of composite materials, which tend to be easier to clean compared to wood.
How much will they be exposed to?
The railings will be exposed to a number of things that will work to damage them. These include exposure to a lot of weight, as well as to too much sunlight and rain. One of the classical mistakes that people make when doing deck design is thinking that the railings that can be used indoors can also be used outdoors. However, you need to remember that the conditions they will be exposed to can sometimes be harsh, so you need railings that are made of a material that can withstand this. Even if you opt for wood railings, it would be wise to get the ones that are made of a hardy type of wood which has been cured long enough to ensure that it can withstand the environment.
Think about the lighting
If you want your deck railing to really pop, you should also consider including some lighting in its design. For instance, you can get a number of lighting fixtures at the bases of each column, so that the entire structure can be lit up at night. This often has a very pleasing effect, particularly if you use soft lighting. It also makes it easier to use the deck during low light conditions, since you would not need to use too many overhead lights.
In summary, when you are designing a deck, you should pay particular attention to the railing design. It might seem like a minor part of the entire structure, but it often makes or breaks it. Once you have considered the above, you will find it much easier to end up with a better package. If you are still not sure about how to go about it, you can also use pictures of decks you like for inspiration. You may also consult a professional designer to help you out as well.