18 Creative Deck Railing Ideas to Update Your Space

You might put a lot of care into picking out the perfect materials for your deck’s floor, but you also should put just as much care into deck railing ideas because the railings add a very aesthetic touch. Consider this, from most vantage points and when you look at your deck from a distance, your deck railing idea will be the first thing you see. With this in mind, know that your railing will define your deck’s style and look. 

Deck railing ideas come in a host of styles that can work with a huge range of architectural categories. They can work with modern houses to cape cod or victorian. Picking out a railing that works with the style of your home and your deck is important because it’ll help you create a look that is uniquely yours. The goal is to ensure one element doesn’t distract from the other one. 

This is why it’s essential that you take the time to pick out the right deck railing idea, balusters, and other components to pull everything neatly together. You want to take time to look at different designs, find your inspiration, and then create the perfect deck railing idea that works for your dream deck. 

Depending on how your deck looks from inside your home, you might want a deck railing idea that you can look through that minimally obscures your view, or you might choose more solid options that stand out. Research how challenging it will be to install, the price, and how much maintenance it’ll need in the coming years. If you’re considering deck railing ideas, allow us to inspire you with the ideas below. 

1. Lattice

Lattice is popular for deck railing ideas because it gives you enough open space to not obscure your view while providing ample protection for anyone who is on your deck. You can choose from different design elements to create a unique look, or you can go with something far more familiar. Lattice will typically be wood, and you’ll want to stain it to ensure that it holds up against the elements and doesn’t warp or rot with repeated exposure to moisture. 

Another reason lattice is a popular deck railing idea is because you can easily build it up to any height you like. It could almost enclose the whole wall of your deck, or you could have it be a lower railing. It’s a nice way to increase the privacy on your deck without totally having a solid wall that blocks out the sunlight. Try to design a look that complements your deck’s style and feel. 

1 Lattice
Lattice by OiMax / CC BY 2.0

2. Metal and Cable

Your deck railing idea doesn’t have to be wood, especially if you’re slowly transforming your entire look to reflect a more modern and sleek vibe. This idea is also great for areas that get a lot of bad weather because it won’t warp or break under pressure, and it’ll be able to withstand different seasons without an issue. You set up a sleek metal top railing and posts, and you want them to have a powder coating on them to help prevent rust and corrosion. 

For the actual railings on this deck railing idea, you’ll use tightly stretched lines of cable. These thin cable lines will provide a very sturdy decking material without impeding your views. You will want professional help to stretch the cable taunt on each line, and you want to secure them very well to ensure that it doesn’t droop or accidentally come loose and snap when you’re out on the deck. 

2 Metal and Cable Railing
Composite Decking With Cable Railing by Elite Balustrade / CC BY 2.0

3. Mixed Materials

Unlike what a lot of people believe, you don’t have to stick with a single material for your deck railing, and this is what this deck railing idea showcases. You start by making the traditional wooden frame for your deck, including the larger support posts. So, at this stage, you’ll have empty spaces in the middle of the frame where wooden slats would normally go if you had an all-wooden deck. Make sure to apply a coat of stain to the deck frame to seal it. 

Once you have the frame done, you’ll insert metal rods into the middle of the frame. You should space them around two or three inches apart, and put them through the railing for more stability. This gives you a mixed medium deck railing idea that is less upkeep than a full wooden one. Also, the metal railings don’t require as much upkeep because they naturally resist damage due to weather changes. You could even have them match your house color to tie everything together. 

3 Mixed Materials
Following the trail by Katie Wheeler / CC BY-NC 2.0

4. Stylish Modern Metal 

Keep in mind that your local building codes will determine the placement and spacing of your railings on your deck railing idea, and they can offer guidance on the design too. But, once you’ve met these codes, you can incorporate some creativity. To create this one, you’ll need three different thicknesses for your vertical support pieces and the horizontal ones are even thinner. The top railing is a sleek wood piece. 

Start by framing out your deck railing idea. You’ll use the thickest metal pieces for your large supports on the corners of your deck. The second thickest pieces will be the sides of each part of your railing, and the thinnest vertical piece will split each rectangle in half in the middle. Finally, your thin vertical pieces will form the railings of the deck. This will create an exceptionally sturdy design that survives different weather conditions with ease, and the sleek wood top bar will complement the darker metal design and reduce your need for deck paint

4 Metal with Wood Top
Steps Cable Decking Railing by Elite Balustrade / CC BY 2.0

5. Add End Caps

A lot of people don’t add end caps to their decks because it’s more ornamental and functional, but this is a nice deck railing idea to add a touch of whimsy or class to your look. If you have a cottage-style, end caps will fit right in to top off your deck’s look. What’s even better, they work on metal, glass, and wooden decks. You can find them in almost any color or style to match your design aesthetic. 

To avoid going overboard on this deck railing idea, save your end caps for the corners and railings of your deck. You don’t want to randomly place end caps along your deck railing. If you have a long deck with a few corners, place an end cap in each space where the body of the wood comes up above or through the railing. This will usually be at the end of each section. 

5 End Caps
Engine Arm Aqueduct – BCN Old Main Line – Wolverhampton Level by Elliott Brown / CC BY 2.0

6. Railings to New Heights

Although it’s common to have deck railings that are waist height or a little higher, one new deck railing idea is quickly catching on. The railings are now going well above five or six feet to create a nice private area where you can sit and relax when you’re outside. If you’re someone who grows a lot of plants, you can quickly and easily turn your deck railing into a garden by encouraging plants and vines to climb your railing. 

You can set trellises up against the railing to start the plants on, and they’ll eventually climb up to the top of the railing and drape down. As a bonus, this creates a natural privacy screen that shields the view of any neighbors or passerbys you may have. If you use wood for your deck railing idea, you will have to paint or stain them to protect them, and you’ll have to refresh this every few years to get rid of chips or fading. 

6 Tall Railings
Lattice by madame.furie / CC BY-SA 2.0

7. Match the House

Many people think that their deck railings or the whole deck in general has to stand out and make a huge statement. However, this isn’t necessarily the case. Instead, take a few minutes and look at your house’s color, style, and the trim. You can use these things as inspiration to design your porch railings. For example, you could make the deck the color of your house. The railings could mimic the exterior of your home with tighter spaces and the same colors. 

Also, don’t forget to look at your trim and incorporate it into your deck railing idea. Maybe you use similar materials in the same orientation and coloring to draw the eye in a smooth flow from the house to the deck, deck railing, and beyond into your yard. This works very well if the deck is in the front of your yard because it can help boost your home’s curb appeal. However, you can also use this idea for a side or back deck, no matter how large or small it is. 

7 Match the House
Veranda with a view by tanakawho / CC BY-NC 2.0

8. Incorporate a Pattern

When you think of a deck railing idea, your vision most likely includes evenly spaced slats of wood or another material running horizontally or vertically. While this is a classic look, it’s also very overdone. Virtually everyone does this for their decks because it works, it goes with virtually any design on your home, and it’s relatively easy to install over other options. However, there is one very easy and simple way to break up the monotony and repeating look of your railing, and that’s to incorporate a pattern. 

For example, one easy deck railing idea that incorporates a pattern is to install a set of three vertical slats with even spacing between them, then you leave a slightly wider space before you install the next set of three. This will create a repeating pattern that breaks up the look of the railing itself. You could even mix one metal and two wood pieces for each set of three to add more texture, and paint for metal can draw your eye even more if you make it a different color than the wood. 

8 Deck Pattern
Highway 100 – Minnetonka Blvd Overpass – Railings by Andrew Munsch / CC BY-NC 2.0

9. Skip the Railings

You’ll find out quickly if you do a search of your building ordinances that you’re most likely required to have railings on decks that are above ground level. However, you have a little more flexibility for decks that are sitting flat on the ground because there isn’t anywhere near as severe of a fall risk. This deck railing idea works very well if you have lush landscaping or a more narrow yard where a full railing could make everything seem cluttered while obscuring your view. 

All you’ll have to do for this deck railing idea is make a frame for the railing. It’ll have a top and thicker support poles situated every five or ten feet. However, you leave the center between the poles open instead of filling them in with narrower slats. In turn, you get a stunning view of your landscape while having the support of an upper railing while you move around your deck or enter and exit it. Bonus points if your top railing is a different color than your support railings and they match your deck’s color scheme. 

9 No Railing Deck
Composite Deck by ntm1909 / CC BY-ND 2.0

10. Glass

When you think of a glass fence, it’s not uncommon to think of a pool fence as many of them use clear glass panes supported with a metal railing, small metal end caps, and metal support pieces. However, glass can also work well for your deck railing idea, as long as you’re not worried about pets or kids coming along and accidentally breaking it. One way to get around this is to use plexiglass over real glass, or you can put a protective coating on your glass. 

This will give you a clear view of your landscape, but this open deck railing idea also allows anyone who should happen to go by to see right into your entertainment area unless you have a privacy fence circling your yard. One option is to get opaque glass panes that obscure the view both ways but still allow a huge amount of sunlight to come through. This idea will require a lot of time from you to keep the glass panes clean and clear of smudges, fingerprints, mud, dirt, and general debris. 

10 Glass Railings
Glass Railing by LeBlanc Decks / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

11. Curved Railings

If I were to ask you to imagine a deck railing idea, you’d most likely imagine something very straight with sharp corners and defined lines. Well, if you have a more luxurious design style, you can quickly and easily complement your space by incorporating gentle curves in your railing. Obviously, this will work better if your deck is curved, but you can pull it off on a square or rectangular one too. It just requires a little more imagination. 

Metal will be easier to create a gently curved look with than wood, but you can use whatever looks best in this deck railing design idea. You could even set the railings slightly away from the deck itself if the deck is at ground level to create an enclosed space that plays with the space round the deck. The railings should meet at the corners of the deck and gently curve out in the middle. This open design can help lighten up the look of heavier architecture or garden decor to create a balanced look.

11 Curved Railings
10506_04_RB by Inverness County [email protected] Network Society / CC BY 2.0

12. Wood

Take a look at your landscaping by your deck. Is it lush, green, and full? Are there a lot of natural brown tones coming through from trees, mulch, river rocks, or other elements of your yard? If so, this deck railing idea allows the railing to blend right into your more natural and serene setting. You can create horizontal or vertical wooden slats, and you want to consider staining them the same colors as your deck.

This stain coat will seal the railing itself from damage due to rain, snow, humidity, or general wear and tear. You will have to apply a new coat of stain every few years, based on how much you use the deck and how much wear and tear it shows. Ideally, the stain will have an orange or red tone to it to help it stand out from the landscape. However, this deck railing idea is very sturdy, stable, and DIY friendly. 

12 Traditional Wooden Deck
Waterfall behind the railings by Terry / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

13. Add Stair Railings

Maybe you have a grand deck with a sprawling staircase coming down into your yard. If so, this deck railing idea will help you create a nice focal point of your stairs while naturally drawing the eye back up to the deck itself for anyone who sees it. As a bonus, this design choice will also increase the safety levels of your outdoor space because people can hold onto the railings as they enter and exit the deck space to decrease the risks of them falling down and getting hurt. 

For this deck railing design, consider staining or painting your deck and railings with a rich brown color. The railings on the inside of the deck and staircase frame could be horizontal metal rods. Add a nice aged bronze finish on them to help the staircase stand out more. This will create a very sturdy and safe staircase, and you can even make the metal rods bend out slightly to add a graceful curve to your design. The vertical support posts could have angled cuts on them too.

13 Striking Stair Railings
Composite Deck by ntm1909 / CC BY-ND 2.0

14. Built-In Seating

Instead of taking up valuable space on your deck with a bench, this deck railing idea transforms a railing into seating the runs along the entire perimeter of your deck. So, instead of using traditional vertical slats on your deck, you’ll use vertical slats so that they can double as a backrest for your seating area. You will have to take special care with this type of railing to reinforce the seating area so that it can handle different weights without a problem. 

Once you get the benches built into the railing, you want to sand them thoroughly so they’re smooth before applying a layer of paint or stain to protect the benches and the entire area in this deck railing idea for damage due to exposure to the humidity and heat and spring and cooler temperatures or rain and snow in the winter months. It’s also a good idea to space some comfortable indoor/outdoor pillows along the benches that your guests can use if they like.

14 Built in Seating
Staining the Deck by Scott Feldstein / CC BY-NC 2.0

15. Transitional Railing Design

It’s easy to make a statement with this deck railing idea. You can easily include traditional elements on your deck with a wooden floor and a wooden top and support rails. As always, make sure you paint or stain these parts to protect them. However, where this design really stands out is the metal slats that you run between the wooden top and bottom railings. It creates a more modern and minimalistic look that balances flawlessly with the traditional aspects. 

You can make this deck railing idea stand out even more by having the metal slats be a darker coloring than the wood parts. Keep the wood parts very light or ashy-tinged. The metal can be black, darker grey, or any color you like.The metal will require far less upkeep than the wooden parts, but you will have to drill individual holes for each metal slat to ensure they have the proper support and stay in place once you affix the top railing in place.

15 Transitional Railing Design
Railing by iheartpandas / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

16. Wide Top

Most deck railing ideas have a much thinner top on them that is great for holding onto, but it’s not wide enough to do much more with it. This concept challenges this idea by having narrower support poles and slats in the railing, but the top of the railing is just over a foot wide. It expands out past the edge of the deck and into the seating area in even portions to give it a very balanced look and feel.

This deck railing idea is nice because it gives you plenty of space to set a plate and eat out on your deck on nice days. You can also confidently set glasses up on this top portion when you entertain. Most people make this wider top railing out of several wooden slats put together, but you could also make it out of one solid piece of wood, if you make the support system strong enough to support the weight. Stain it to give it a nice look, and paint the support railings white or a light color to help it stand out. 

17 Wide Top Design
mighty fine deck by chris riebschlager / CC BY-NC 2.0

17. Wrought Iron

Wrought iron is a traditional and classic medium used in fencing materials, but it’s also starting to get very popular on most stately deck railing ideas. If you have an odd-shaped deck like an octagon or a circular shape, this is a great material to use to make it stand out. Since wrought iron is black, you’ll want to have a lighter colored deck or even a white deck and white support posts to help create a balance between the materials. This is an eye-catching contrast that will draw people’s eyes. 

Some wrought iron has small designs halfway down the slats, and you can artfully space these things out to create a pattern. One deck railing idea had two straight iron slats, one with a circular design, then three straight slats, another with a circular design, and two straight slats to finish the pattern between each support pole. This railing usually doesn’t go right down to the deck, so keep this in mind if you have smaller pets that could fit under it.

17 Wrought Iron
Front stair railing by HandsLive / CC BY 2.0

18. Thick Slats

Instead of incorporating thinner slats to keep your space open, this deck railing idea takes the opposite approach and uses thicker slats with smaller spaces between each slat. This design will block out a lot of the light, but it also gives you an incredible amount of privacy when you sit out on your deck or entertain your guests. You will need a thicker support column to hold these wider slats up on, but it creates a very uniform look for your deck. 

Make sure you stain each slat and support column on your deck railing idea. Lighter colors can help make your space seem not as dark since the thicker slats will block a large amount of sunlight. However, they also serve as wind blocks that can be very useful when the weather takes a turn. 

18 Thick Slat Railing
IMG_8018 by John Russell / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Bottom Line

These 18 deck railing ideas allow you to create a custom space that either stands out or blends in flawlessly with your home. They’re a fantastic way to update your existing space without tearing out your entire deck and putting a new one in, and you have so many choices available. Take this post and get inspired to tackle this project on one sunny weekend this spring or summer. 

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