Discover 16 different types of deck railing design ideas. Lots of photos showing the differences plus we set out the pros, cons and cost of each type (include photo examples).
The railings you use on your deck should be as carefully considered as decking materials, styles and patterns given they are highly visible from your home, much of your backyard space and everywhere on the deck.
Moreover, it also serves an important function, which is safety, especially if your deck is elevated.
There are many different designs that can transform the way your decking appears. There’s maintenance free designs, baluster spacing, glass railings, Chippendale… the list is endless.
Then there are the materials to consider. There are composite railings, aluminum railings, iron railings, stainless steel railings, wood deck railings, vinyl railings and many other different deck railing designs.
Here is a look at the main types of deck railings and railing systems that you can use with some additional information.
Table of Contents
Types of Railings
Note: The cost totals of each deck railing are approximated. They will vary based on how large each panel is, as well as the materials used to make a railing.
A Chippendale railing uses an X-shaped pattern. It has a series of lines that meet up in the middle to create an X shape with a series of smaller lines all the way in the middle.
- It offers a beautiful and elaborate look.
- It fits in well on horizontal rails.
- It can be tough to paint or stain the railing due to how intricate the design is.
You will have to spend about $100 to $150 for each Chippendale railing panel.
A rustic look will feature a more informal style. It may come with a series of treated wood materials that are cut with a few rough edges and spots here and there. This makes it look as though the material had just been brought out from the wild and prepared to get a good surface up.
- The random designs on each plank of wood or other material you use will look nice and intriguing.
- The natural design of the railing creates a beautiful style to add in any spot.
- This can be finished in any way you see fit.
- There are no real limits to what type of railing design you can use.
- You will have to check on the pieces carefully to ensure they don’t come apart.
- It might be tough to stain or paint individual pieces, what with their bodies being rather irregular in their design.
Rustic railing panels are a little cheaper than most other options because there’s not much of a need to get every single piece finished in a professional manner. You might spend as little as $50 for a panel although some fancy or more detailed options might cost $200.
A craftsman style uses a series of slim lines that are typically organized in a vertical pattern. These are symmetrical to each other and can be paired with some added horizontal patterns.
- It creates a picket fence-like look to a railing.
- It also offers a dense look that creates a good cover without being too restrictive.
- This could create an unwelcome jail-like feel if you don’t use a proper design.
- You might struggle to maintain and clean off some of the spots in between vertical posts depending on how close they are to one another.
It can cost $100 to $200 to get a craftsman railing panel.
4. Sawn Baluster
A sawn baluster railing has a beautiful design that is attractive and repeats all the way through a section. With this, you will have a series of vertical panels that are linked together with a cutout shape in the middle of each panel. The shape can come in any style that you see fit. The key is to get the shape to repeat all through the entire panel.
- You can choose any kind of pattern for a sawn baluster railing as you want.
- It fits in well with lighter colors.
- It is tough to see a sawn baluster design if the color is too dark.
- You’ll have to be very cautious when maintaining the railing so it will not tear apart or wear out.
You can always pay for a sawn baluster railing by the individual cutout that you want to add. You could spend $20 or more for each individual cutout. You’d have to measure your railing to determine how many of these are going to be organized together on your railing.
5. Turned Baluster
A turned baluster design has a more traditional look to it. This uses a cylindrical shape with a series of curves. The width of each turned baluster post can vary from one part to the next. It can also be paired with a large base at the top and bottom parts to support the general design of the railing.
- It is one of the most elegant types of balusters you can use.
- It creates a classy design that is attractive and makes for a formal look.
- This doesn’t work well for dark colors.
- The process of maintaining such baluster features can be tough to handle.
Turned baluster posts cost less in that they can go for $10 to $15 each. You’ll still have to measure your planned railing and look at how many of these posts you are going to have there before figuring out how the design will look.
A sunburst or fan design features a series of straight lines that will bloom out of one spot. It creates a sun or fan-like look.
- It is a very attractive and inviting style.
- The detail is elaborate and yet simple.
- It can be as wide or narrow as you want it to be.
- It is challenging to clean in between each individual piece of the railing.
A typical sunburst or fan railing can go for $100 to $200 per piece. This total will vary based on not only how elaborate the design is but also how long it is with wider options costing more.
7. Wrought Iron
Wrought iron is used in many professional settings. Today it can be used at your home. Wrought iron provides you with a classy design that adds a comfortable look. The iron will be arranged in one of many designs based on what you prefer.
- Wrought iron can be finished or painted in a variety of colors.
- It makes a spot look relatively fancy and comfortable.
- You must seal and coat your wrought iron regularly so it will not rust.
- It is often tough to clean off some spots.
You will spend $200 to $400 on a wrought iron panel depending on its size and how detailed it looks. The cost will be even greater when you have a customized design to your railing.
Just as the name suggests, a cable railing uses a series of cables typically organized in a horizontal pattern. These cables are slim in their design and are paired with a series of metal posts all around. Sometimes the cables can come with a series of small metal beams tied together but, in other cases, it might just entail one thick metal wire on each one instead.
- It is a beautiful option that is slim and yet is still easy to notice.
- The cables can match up with the other features on the railing.
- Excess pressure on the cables can cause them to weaken and potentially break apart.
A cable railing can go for $50 to $100 per panel in most instances. The lower cost comes from how the raw materials aren’t as heavy or carefully detailed as what others feature. It will cost more to get these if you have more cables on a single panel for you to work with.
Glass is a clear option although it can be made with a semi-transparent design. You can get it prepared in straight sheets or with a few slots or openings around the space. These may be supported by steel or wood materials too.
- It adds a modern look to any porch or deck.
- The design of the glass body can come with any etching or transparency features. The glass is very easy to customize.
- You will have to clean the glass panels often.
- Sometimes birds and other things might run into these panels because they might not see them well.
- The surface is easy to scratch.
You could spend $100 to $200 for a single panel of glass although the cost will be higher depending on the particular type of cover you have.
Rope creates a nautical look to any deck. It uses a series of carefully woven fibers to establish a beautiful style.
- Rope can be strung on any wood or metal base.
- Rope can also be found in a variety of thickness levels.
- It can come apart due to extreme weather conditions.
You could spend $100 to $150 for a single rope panel. This is assuming that you’re using three or four rope strands at a time.
Image sources (used with permission): Mountain Laurel Handrail
Common Materials Used for Deck Railings
Wood is a more traditional option to use for how it offers a classic look that adds a nice style all the way through.
- It is very easy to get wood cut into a vast variety of shapes.
- Wood materials can be supported by a number of stains.
- You must stain your wood regularly to keep it comfortable and to prevent it from being damaged by water.
- Wood surfaces can rot depending on what happens.
Steel materials are popular for you to check out. They can be prepared in a variety of forms with nickel being rather popular. Copper can also be used in some instances.
- You can paint steel in a variety of forms.
- This can be made with a series of coatings that will keep water from damaging the surface.
- Steel can weaken and buckle from extreme heat.
- Steel can also rust in some of the worst cases.
Aluminum is a very popular metal to use. It is light in weight and yet adds plenty of strength to a railing.
- Aluminum is a material that will not rust.
- A powder coat can be applied onto your aluminum rail for a beautiful shine.
- This can handle many difficult weather conditions and doesn’t require too much maintenance.
- This doesn’t work well if you are trying to get a darker color.
Stone materials are often used to create a solid design. You can choose many stones that can be bonded together or some bricks. They could be used to support a series of metal posts to keep a railing together.
- Stone fits in well with a variety of metal surfaces.
- A stone body will be very difficult for you to damage or break apart.
- This does not do well with wood materials.
- You must keep your stone materials sealed and treated so they will not be hurt by water.
Top Patterns to Choose
A horizontal arrangement uses a series of lines that are carefully arranged. They are often placed on top of one another.
- This makes any deck look a little longer in its design.
- It can also add a fence-like look to your deck.
- It might be a challenge to clean off some slots due to how bunched up they might be towards each other.
With a vertical design, you will have a series of posts that stand upright. They will be supported by a thicker series of supports on the top and bottom parts. This establishes a comfortable and carefully arranged look all around.
- The classic design of a vertical deck railing offers a beautiful look that adds a refined style to your railing.
- This also works for all types of materials although it can especially work well with a metal body.
- You must watch for how well the deck railing is cleaned off. It needs to be washed carefully without being too rough.
Make sure you look carefully at what you can use when getting a deck railing up and running. A quality railing will come with a beautiful design that gives off a more formal or relaxed look but you will have to look carefully at how well it is made. You should also look at how appealing the setup is.