In Vancouver and around the world, deck railings vary greatly in style and cost. So what railing type is best for your Greater Vancouver home?
This article considers the most important factors to consider when choosing deck railings: Cost, durability, maintenance requirements, and building code restrictions. When you know the answers to these questions, you will be best prepared to buy new deck railings!
Find out the cost per linear foot of your ideal deck railings:
Wooden Deck Railings
$30 – $60 per linear foot
Wooden deck railings are generally the most affordable exterior railing to install. Ranging from $30 – $60 per linear foot, design options are endless.
Wooden railings can have traditional posts, lattice, or panel designs. They can be composed of pressure treated wood, cedar, or a combination. A popular feature of wooden deck railings, is the ability to paint or stain them varying colours. This gives you the flexibility for years to come to control this aspect of the wood deck railings design.
Wooden Railing Drawbacks
The down side of wooden railings is the amount of maintenance required. Almost annually, wooden railings need sanding and refinishing to keep up their appearance. Each post can take up to 10 minutes to prep and seal. The sealing process requires having the right equipment on hand. Wooden railing maintenance is very time consuming, and costly.
Aluminum Deck Railings
$40 – $90 per linear foot
Aluminum railings are the sweetheart of the decking industry. With few drawbacks, this option makes a lot of sense for most people. Aluminum railings are very durable, affordable and low maintenance.
Aluminum picket railings can be either mounted on the fascia (side mounted) or on top of the deck (top mounted). Because of this, they are ideal for small balconies, and vinyl decks where waterproofing is a concern. Standard aluminum railings are narrow picket and are available prefabricated or custom-built.
Prefabricated Aluminum Railings
Prefabricated aluminum railings are designed for the DIY-er. They are available at hardware stores from $40 – $90 per linear foot.
Prefabricated railings are good for decks with standard measurements. They do need some technical know-how (and time) to install, making them a less popular railing.
Custom Aluminum Railings
Custom aluminum railings are made to order. Measurements are taken of the deck, stairs, and any nooks and crannies that need a railing. They’re produced in two to three weeks and powder coated in your preferred colour.
Custom aluminum railings cost $60 – $150 per linear foot when installed by a professional. Custom railings also give you the option to get creative with design. For a small extra cost of $5 – $10 per linear foot, you can get creative with custom designs. Twisted pickets, thickened pickets, and double top caps will cost you a bit extra.
Aluminum Deck Railing Drawbacks
There are very few down sides to choosing aluminum railings for your sundeck. Aluminum is maintenance free – requiring a light spray from a hose from time to time. Lasting for decades, aluminum provides protection from rust, decay, corrosion, and insect infestation. Aluminum offers a versatile, clean, and stylish appearance. Eco-conscious Vancouver homeowners love aluminum, as it’s recyclable. Simple disassemble and take to a local recycling depot.
Composite Deck Railings
$100+ per linear foot
For composite decks, composite deck railings are the obvious choice. Like their decking counterpart, composite railings provide supreme durability with minimal maintenance. Composite railings typically last 25+ years without fading or warping. They need an occasional wash, making them easy to care for.
This type of railing is composed of a pressure treated wood post, wrapped in a composite or PVC sleeve. This offers composite railings its protection and beautiful aesthetics. Between posts, composite pickets, aluminum, cable, or glass can be used. Brands like TimberTech’s Radiance Rail can incorporate lighting right into the railings. Lighting makes for a beautiful accent that will wow your friends and family when they visit!
Composite railing drawbacks
As beautiful and durable as composite railings may be, there are a few notable drawbacks. They require being top-mounted, which isn’t suitable for waterproof decks. They also feel out of place on deck made of other materials, limiting them to composite decks. Additionally, they are only available in limited colours, making design options minimal.
Glass Deck Railings
$66 – $200 per linear foot
To maximize your view of BC’s beautiful vistas, glass railings are second-to-none. Glass deck railings make decks feel and look larger. Coupled with aluminum picture frames, this combo provides optimal studiedness and building-code requirements. Glass/aluminum combination railings start around $66 per linear foot installed.
If you want to make the most of your million dollar view, panorama short post glass railings might be for you. These railings have aluminum posts on either side of the glass panels, but no aluminum top cap above. Because there is no aluminum top cap, they don’t obstruct your view. Get peace of mind with short post glass railings, as they still have the optimal strength and meet code. Panorama short post glass railings cost approximately $140 per linear foot installed.
For the ultimate, unobstructed view, choose postless tempered glass railings. These side-mounted glass panels offer a sleek look, and are the gold standard for houses with a view. You’ll enjoy your deck more when you can take in the whole view! They pair well with vinyl decks, as they can be top mounted. With proper installation, they are 100% safe and will make a lasting impression on guests. Postless tempered glass railings cost approximately $180-$200 per linear foot installed.
Drawbacks of Glass Railings
Some municipalities don’t allow topless glass railings. Rest assured that aluminum-framed glass railings are always welcome in Greater Vancouver.
In homes with kids and pets, glass railings tend to get smudged and need regular cleaning. If you can live with that, glass railings are a charming addition to any home.
According to building code, every deck (more than 18” off the ground) needs railings. Whether you’re building a new deck or renovating the railings of your existing deck, picking railings is an important step. By considering how you’ll use your deck, where you live, and what your budget is, you can make an informed decision.
Citywide Sundecks & Railings builds and renovates decks in Metro Vancouver, BC. We have expertise in all of the above railing types and can help you decide which is best for your needs and budget.