Deck Railing Construction

Written by Donald Sparacin
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If you planned your deck design well, the last thing you will be doing to complete the finished deck is deck railing construction. Proper planning will leave you with posts that support the deck itself and extend up to a point at least as high as the deck railing should be. For most decks, the height of the railing will be 36", 42", or 48" above the decking. Be sure to design a gate across any stairs if you have small children that will be on the deck.

Deck Railing Construction Demystified

Deck railing construction need not be the horribly challenging part of the project that it once was. New products are available that can actually make this the easiest part of overall deck construction. Home centers over the past years have begun to offer pressure treated rails that are cut to accept standard pressure treated balusters, but these aren't the best things available. The grooved bottoms can hold water if they aren't dressed well, and most people end up screwing into the rails to hold the balusters.

For a beautifully finished look, instead of the grooved rails use good wood or a composite, and set them to the posts using a railing connector. Balusters can be affixed using connectors as well, and you eliminate the unsightly and rough screws or nail heads from the railing. Composite material for the rails can be especially good since they will never splinter or crack and hands will always be roaming over them. Cedar is also a nice railing wood, but it is quite expensive outside of the west coast region.

When designing your deck railings, you need to decide if you want the most visible part of your deck to be inexpensive or to make a bold statement. Of course there are many options in-between, but it is important to decide up front which way you will go. Decide on balusters first, and that will help to steer you toward the overall look of the railings.


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