Deck Railing Systems and Deck Railing Construction

Deck Railing Styles and How to Install Deck Railings Properly

By Mark J. Donovan

Deck railings play a vital role in protecting you and your family. Improperly installed deck railings lead to death and injuries every year due to failed deck railings. It is critical that deck railings be installed correctly and to proper building codes. Before designing and building a deck, permits should be pulled so that the deck design can be checked for safety and conformance to local and industry building codes.

Deck Railing System Styles and Types

Besides their structural purposes, deck railings also play an important role in providing aesthetic beauty to your deck and home.

Though wooden deck railings have been the norm for centuries, there are other deck railing material types available today that offer lower maintenance, and numerous styles and options. Besides wood, deck railings are also constructed out of composite materials, PVC, and metal. Typically these products are much more expensive than wooden deck railing material but are lower maintenance and last much longer. In addition, deck railing systems are also available today with built in channels for routing electrical wiring for deck lighting.

Besides deck railing material types there are also a plethora of deck railing styles to choose from. With wood deck rail systems, deck post and balusters are available in a wide variety of options. In addition, deck railings can be constructed in a number of different ways to provide various finished looks. Prefabricated metal and composite deck railing systems are also available in numerous styles and sizes.

Deck Railing Construction Tips

When building deck railings it is vitally important that the deck posts are properly attached to the deck floor joists.

 Deck railing with deck flashing installed where deck connects to house.

Preferably, through bolts should be used with large washers on the front and back sides of them. Lag bolts typically do not hold deck posts as well, particularly if they are over-tightened.

In addition, wood blocking should be used to add even additional rigidity to the deck posts. Also, always use stainless steel fasteners when building a deck and installing deck railings. Non stainless steel fasteners either corrode and/or bleed unsightly stains.

If you are building wood deck railings, paint or stain the deck railing pieces before assembling them.

And whenever cuts are made, touch up the ends with paint or stain prior to installing the deck railing pieces. Exposed deck railing pieces, even attached end pieces, will wick moisture and lead to rot in short order.

Deck Installation Bid Sheet


For help on building a deck, see’s Deck Installation Bid Sheet. The Deck Installation Bid Sheet will teach your how to hire the right deck contractor, and help to ensure that your deck project is completed on time and budget.

Related Information

Additional Deck Building and Design Resources

Get Free Deck Building Price Quotes with No Obligation!

Fill out our 3-5 minute quick and easy form, and receive a free price quote on decks from one of our pre-screened and licensed deck contractors. This process is free and there is no obligation to continue once you receive your decks price estimate.