Deck Railing Materials and How to Choose Wisely

September 9th, 2015 Category: Decks

When building a deck, most people focus on the material under their feet. While this makes sense, there is also something else important to consider—the railing you choose. Whether wood, wrought iron, glass, or plastic, you’ll want to take the time to pick the right material and style for your new deck railings. These railings should last the lifetime of your deck, so choose something you’ll enjoy looking at. And if you are looking for a reliable Maryland deck railing supplier for tips and advice, Outdoor Specialties is here to help.

Building Codes

Before shopping around for deck railings, it’s important to check your local municipal building codes. Each township is different, and could have different specifications that your deck and railings should adhere to. Here are some of the specifications that could be considered universal, at least throughout Maryland:

  • Your deck should always have a railing system if it is 30 inches or more above the surrounding grade, and railings on residential decks should be at least 36 inches tall.
  • Railings must also be filled in with vertical balusters that should be spaced no more than 4 inches apart.
  • Any staircase with 4 or more steps should have a handrail between 34 and 38 inches above the stair tread with a diameter between 1¼ and 2 inches.
  • Stairs more than 30 inches above surrounding grade must also have a guard rail.

Your local Maryland decking expert will know the appropriate municipal codes and will ensure that the railing you purchase is compliant.

Wooden Railings

Wooden railings are the most common and ubiquitous of railing choices, and for a few reasons:

  • They fit aesthetically with the wood or composite material of your deck
  • They can be stained to match or contrast your deck
  • They can be painted to brighten your deck or add a pop of color

It’s important to remember that wooden railings and balusters are susceptible to the same pitfalls of your wooden deck. Make sure you seal the wood and check yearly for degradation due to rot or termites.

Wrought Iron Balusters

If you’re looking for a thinner solution that won’t obstruct your view as much as wooden balusters, look no further than wrought iron. The natural strength of wrought iron makes balusters safer, but also much heavier than the traditional wooden railings. These decorative railings can be crafted in various shapes, are less prone to breakdown over time, and can be incorporated with wooden, composite, or metal railing systems.

Glass or Cable Railing Systems

If you don’t want your view obstructed, think glass or cable. Glass is generally thought to be fragile, but when used as a baluster substitute, the glass is tempered to a point that it rivals wood in terms of safety. These clear panels allow full view of your yard, as well as provide you with a striking conversation piece when hosting functions on your deck. Cable railings are similar to glass, but run horizontally along your deck. Their minimal construction affords an unobstructed view, and is very easy to work around awkward corners. If you decide to utilize cable, be sure to have them inspected regularly and tightened when needed.

Vinyl Railings

If you’re looking for a virtually maintenance-free solution, look no further than vinyl railings.  These simply constructed railing systems come in a variety of colors to match your deck and look brand new year after year. Whether you’d like an architectural design or a classic neutral railing, vinyl railings can provide you with a no-hassle solution.

Composite Railings

Living in a less-than-temperate climate can take its toll on your deck and railing system. If your railings look like they’re being beaten by Maryland’s harsh weather turns, consider having a composite railing system installed. These versatile railing systems offer unique flexibility and a strong base. Most composites are constructed with reclaimed wood fiber, so you’re not only making your deck safer, but also helping the environment.

Choosing the right railing and baluster system can be a daunting task. Municipal codes and materials aside, you want to choose something that fits the personality of you and your deck. Call Outdoor Specialties today or visit us online for a free consultation. Let us help you realize your decking vision.

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We deliver our outdoor product supplies to all of Maryland, Washington, D.C., Southern Pennsylvania, and Northern Virginia. Some of the counties we commonly serve are:

Frederick County: Frederick (21701, 20702, 21703, 21709), New Market (21774) , Mount Airy (21771), Urbana (21704), Ijamsville (21754), Walkersville (21793), Libertytown (21762), Damascus (20872), and more.

Howard County: Clarksville (21029), Columbia (21044), Cooksville (21723), Dorsey (21075), Elkridge (21075), Ellicott City (21043), Fulton (20759), Glenelg (21737), Glenwood (21738), Granite (21163), Hanover (21076), Highland (20777), Jessup (20794), Lisbon (21765), Marriottsville (21104), North Laurel (20723), West Friendship (21794), Woodbine (21797), Woodstock (21163), and more.

Montgomery County: Olney (20832), Damascus (20872), Laytonsville (20882), Silver Spring (20910), Clarksburg (20871), Gaithersburg (20878), Germantown (20876), Bethesda (20816), Chevy Chase (20815), Potomac (20817) and more.

Anne Arundel County: Annapolis (21401, 21403, 21409), Arnold (21012), Crofton (21114), Crownsville (21032), Gambrills (21054), Glen Burnie (21060, 21061), Hanover (21076), Jessup (20794), Pasadena (21122), Severn (21144), Severna Park (21146).

Baltimore County: Arbutus (21227), Catonsville (21228, 21250), Cockeysville (21030, 21031, 21065), Dundalk (21222), Edgemere (21219), Essex (21221), Garrison (21055), Lansdowne (21227), Lochearn (21207), Lutherville (21093), Middle River (21220), Milford Mill (21244), Overlea (21236), Owings Mills (21117), Parkville (21234), Park Heights (21215), Pikesville (21208), Randallstown (21133), Reisterstown (21136), Rosedale (21237), Timonium (21093), Towson (21204), White Marsh (21162), Woodlawn (21207), and more.

Carroll County: Eldersburg (21784), Finksburg (21048), Hampstead (21074), Manchester (21102), Marriottsville (21104), Taneytown (21787), Union Bridge (21791), Westminster (21157, 21158), Mount Airy (21771), New Windsor (21776), Sykesville (21784), Woodbine (21797), Taneytown (21787), and more.

Harford County: Aberdeen (21001), Abingdon (21009), Bel Air (21014, 21015), Darlington (21034), Edgewood (21040), Forest Hill (21050), Jarrettsville (21084), Joppa (21085), Pylesville (21132), Whiteford (21160), White Hall (21161)

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