Expert Advice

How to Choose the Right Deck Railing in 8 Simple Steps

A deck railing is the perfect addition to your composite deck. Learn how to choose a deck railing system with advice and considerations from Trex.

August 25, 2023

The right deck railing system can enhance the beauty and safety of your composite deck. With such a wide array of options available, choosing the perfect railing can seem overwhelming.  

In this comprehensive guide, we'll walk you through the key considerations and expert advice to help you select the ideal deck railing that complements your style and meets your needs.

Step 1:  Choose a Deck Railing Color

When it comes to choosing the perfect deck railing color, the options are endless. With Trex's color selector tool, you can explore various hues that complement your deck and reflect your personal style. 

While some may assume that the railing should match the decking color, designer Evette Rios reminds us that this isn't always the case. Instead, Evette says, “Draw your guests eye to your railing by using a bright white railing, like I chose. Or let your railing fade effortlessly into your backyard with a dark shade of black.”

Consider drawing attention to your railing with a bright white hue or creating a seamless blend with a deep shade of black. The key is to select a color that enhances your deck's overall aesthetic and effortlessly integrates into your outdoor space.

Step 2: Consider Your View

When selecting a deck railing, it's crucial to consider the view from your deck. After all, the last thing you want to do is obstruct a stellar view with your deck railing.

Opting for glass or mesh infills can provide a sleek and transparent aesthetic, allowing you to take in the surrounding scenery without limitations. A black railing can create a more secluded atmosphere if privacy is a concern, and yet still fade into the background.

Step 3: Calculate Deck Railing Costs

Calculating deck railing costs is an important step in planning your project. The total cost can vary based on factors such as the material you choose, the length of your railing, and any additional customizations. Keep in mind railing costs often outpace the cost for decking so don’t overlook railing as you plan.

To help estimate the costs accurately, Trex offers a convenient Deck Designer tool that allows you to visualize your deck and explore different railing options, helping you plan your budget effectively.

Step 4: Choose High Quality Materials

When it comes to selecting the perfect deck railing, prioritize high-quality materials that offer both longevity and visual appeal. 

Opting for premium options from reputable brands and suppliers ensures you’ll have a railing that withstands the elements and retains its structural integrity for years. Keep in mind that superior materials are less likely to warp or fade over time, saving you from potential future headaches and expenses.

By investing in superior materials upfront, you'll enjoy a deck railing that provides long-lasting performance and peace of mind.

Step 5: Envision Making the Most of the Space to Increase Functionality

To increase the functionality of your deck and maximize its potential, consider incorporating a deck board on the top rail. A “cocktail railing” provides a convenient surface for placing drinks and snacks during gatherings.

Integrating deck lighting into your railing system enhances safety by illuminating your outdoor space after sunset. Strategically placed lights, such as lighted post caps, solar powered lights, or under-rail lighting, offer ambiance and security.

Step 6: Decide On Customizations

When it comes to customizing your deck railing, Trex offers a range of options to suit your personal style and design preferences. Each railing line offers different enhancements and applications. Consider the following:

Trex Select® Railing:

  • Comes with two top rail options - Classic and T-Rail
  • Cocktail application offered
  • Available in white 
  • Not curveable

Trex Transcend® Railing:

  • Wide variety of colors to choose from
  • Ability to incorporate curved railing sections
  • Option to use glass infill
  • Can choose a cocktail rail approach

Trex Signature® Railing:

  • Available in three popular colors
  • Compatible with square balusters, glass, mesh, and rod railing
  • Can be curved to fit your design
  • Allows for a cocktail rail (excluding glass)
  • Can be used with composite posts

Step 7: Make Your Railing Accessible

When considering your deck railing options, you can choose an ADA-compliant handrail and adhere to the guidelines set forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

These railings ensure everyone can navigate and enjoy your deck safely and comfortably, regardless of mobility. By making your railing accessible, you create an inclusive and welcoming outdoor space for all to enjoy.

Step 8: Check Building Codes

When moving forward with a deck railing installation, take time to check your local building codes to ensure compliance with the International Residential Code (IRC) guidelines. These guidelines outline safety requirements and standards for deck railings, including height, spacing, and load-bearing capabilities. 

By confirming that your railing meets the IRC guidelines, you can ensure your deck's safety and structural integrity while avoiding potential issues with code enforcement. It's always wise to consult with local authorities or a deck building professional to ensure your deck railing meets the necessary building codes.

step 8

Choose Your Deck Railing Today!

Discovering the best deck railing for your needs can transform your outdoor space into a stunning and functional oasis. Whether you prioritize safety, aesthetics, or functionality, Trex offers a wide range of deck railing options to suit your style and needs.

Take the next step and explore the Decking & Railing Duos collection to discover the perfect pairing for your dream deck. Start designing today!

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Trex Select® Deck Railing
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Trex Signature® Railing
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Trex Transcend® Railing
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