Update Your Deck: Horizontal Deck Railing and More Creative Ideas

horizontal deck railing

We might currently be in the middle of winter and temperatures may be dipping across the United States, but spring will soon be here, with summer quick on its heels. 

Is your deck ready for backyard barbecues, family dinners and all of the other warm-weather festivities you love to enjoy outdoors? Whether you’re building one from the ground up or looking to renovate an existing one, there are a few key ways you can make this space stand out.

From choosing new materials to embracing modern, horizontal deck railing designs, these small details can make a world of difference. Today, we’re sharing a few of our favorite ways to take your deck from ordinary to outstanding. 

Start With the Right Design

Your deck design is an important decision and should be approached with great care and attention. While there are many guides that claim to show you how to perform these steps on your own, it’s always best to trust a custom builder to the job.

Your desk must be more than simply beautiful to look at. It must also be structurally secure and professionally built. Moreover, it must be up to code, including following strict height and safety regulations. 

Our team at Butte Fence can help you create the custom deck of your dreams. From simple, ground-level layouts to more elaborate, multi-storied designs, we can do it all. For inspiration and ideas, head over to our Gallery Page for an up-close view of some of the deck projects we’ve recently completed. 

For the flooring surface of your deck, we primarily recommend a composite decking material that offers years of stress-free and maintenance-free use. From there, you can also choose to install different types of railings to add both safety and aesthetics. 

Want to add a shade awning over your deck for sun protection and comfort? We can do that. Looking for a unique railing color to stand out on your block? We’ve got that, too. 

In addition, if you do decide to tackle this home project yourself, our trained sales staff can help you source the exact materials you need, as well as offer helpful installation guidance. Nearly everyone on our sales team started as an installer, and we have the in-depth experience and expertise required to help you on this journey.

Find the Right Railing

When you’re designing a deck, one of the best ways to start is by brainstorming the type of material you want to use for your railing. Once you’ve chosen your preferred type, you can then narrow your options even more by choosing a unique and attractive railing design.

First, let’s take a look at some of the most common materials used to create deck railings. From the ultra-modern to the traditional, there’s an option out there for everyone. 

Vinyl and Composite Pickets

For both fencing and railing, vinyl is one of the most durable, beautiful materials on the market. Not only will vinyl hold up better than most other alternatives, but it’s also incredibly versatile. We offer vinyl and composite decking materials that are waterproof and guaranteed to never require refinishing. 

Today, you can find vinyl deck railing in a variety of different colors and styles. These include both picket-style rails and horizontal options. 

Across the board, standard, 2×4 vinyl rails are the most common selection. You can also find attractive T-top styles as well. Both of these designs can be used for upper deck stories, as well as deck stairs. 

When deciding between picket railing and horizontal railing, consider your personal design aesthetic. If you lean toward a more conventional look, vinyl pickets offer a gorgeous, timeless touch that will look just as great in 10 to 15 years as it does today. At Butte Fence, we offer many different vinyl picket styles, ranging from our standard ⅞-inch x 1.5-inch option to other decorative designs, including:

  • Colonial
  • Octagonal
  • Twist
  • Forward bend

In addition, you can also incorporate metal spindles with vinyl railing for a mixed-material look that stands out and looks great. 

Stainless Steel Railing

While pickets will never go out of style, there’s another trend changing the deck industry: stainless steel railing!

More modern and industrial-looking than pickets, stainless steel rails are sleek and sophisticated. They also update the look of your home instantly. Stainless steel gives a fresh, clean look to your deck. It’s also one of the most low-maintenance materials you can select. 

As its name implies, stainless steel resists color changes. It’s also less susceptible to corrosion and is a cinch to clean. Many homeowners opt for a brushed finish to keep the metal looking as natural as possible. Increasingly, however, you will also find rails and posts finished with a shiny mirror finish or a durable power coating. 

Wooden Railing

If your deck is enveloped by nature and you want to pay homage to the landscape around your property, you might be considering building it with wooden posts and rails. 

These rails can be installed either vertically or horizontally. In either case, they do add a rustic touch that still looks up-to-date. A common building material, wood is completely natural and can look great as soon as it’s installed.

However, if left untreated, wood offers little protection against the outdoor elements. This can cause it to weaken, change color, and even rot over time. As you can imagine, this poses a major threat for your deck. If it becomes compromised in any way, it loses structural integrity and could collapse. 

For this reason, it’s critical to treat your wooden surfaces with a specialized, anti-rot coating to help preserve their quality and extend their lifetime. Cedar decking is preferable over other varieties, as it is both beautiful and hardy. Other common options include:

  • Spruce
  • Fir
  • Pine

In addition, it’s important to take the time to refinish a wooden deck regularly. If this task is left undone, the rails and floorboards could become splintered and pose a safety risk to homeowners. Negligence could also cause the wood to become warped or faded over time. 

Aluminum Railing

Aluminum is another material commonly chosen for deck railing construction. However, it’s important to realize that while an aluminum design might look great once it’s all set up, it’s usually one of the shortest-lasting solutions.

Why is this the case? Aluminum is a soft metal, which means it’s more prone to chipping, corroding, denting, or scratching. This is true even if you invest in a high-priced, painted alloy. If you’re looking for a highly durable decking material that will last for years, alternative materials such as vinyl or stainless steel are recommended over aluminum.

Wrought Iron Railing

Looking to add an upscale appearance to your backyard space? If so, wrought iron deck railing can give you the elevated look you desire.

Today, many homeowners are opting to create black deck railings made of wrought iron rails and balusters coated in jet-black, outdoor-friendly paint. Stronger than aluminum railing, wrought iron can last for years as long as the proper maintenance and upkeep are performed. 

By keeping your wrought iron railing painted, you can help prevent rust from forming on the surface, which can negatively affect its appearance. 

Update Your Deck Infill Design 

The infill of your deck railing refers to the materials you install between each baluster. As with the anchoring posts, these materials can vary widely and each offers its own appearance and style. 

Next, let’s take a look at a few of your top infill options. Upgrading this design can change the look of your deck completely, so it’s worth getting it right.

Horizontal Stainless Steel Railing

Traditionally, homeowners chose to install vertical rails made of the same material, which continues to offer a seamless, streamlined look. 

However, there’s a new trend appearing on the scene that offers an unexpected, eye-catching twist on this familiar design: horizontal deck railing! If you want to create a look that’s dramatic and different, this is a great way to go.

You can choose from a variety of materials when installing your horizontal rails, though stainless steel cables are the most widely used choice. Within the industry, this is also known as wire deck railing, though sturdier steel cables are preferable. 

Besides looking great and offering a unique look, what are some of the other reasons you should consider switching it up and installing your rails horizontally instead? Here are the top factors to consider:

  • More open, airy look
  • Better view of the outdoor landscape
  • Can be more cost-effective than other options
  • Creates the illusion of more space

Especially compared to wooden or vinyl rails, stainless steel cables are thinner and therefore open your deck up. At the same time, they’re also incredibly strong and durable due to their metal composition. 

Especially if you have a gorgeous backyard view that you want to preserve and showcase, horizontal steel infills are an ideal choice. 

Glass Panel Infills

Horizontal stainless steel cables aren’t the only modern infill solution. You can also install glass panels between each baluster for a look that’s equally stunning and spacious. 

Usually made of a special type of tempered glass, these panels mount to each post using decorative stainless steel clamps. They create an unobstructed view to the landscape beyond, without any sort of vertical or horizontal railing system in the line of sight.

In addition to glass panels, you can also find panels made of other materials, including plastic, wire mesh, or metal. 

Add New, Modern Hardware

Sometimes, the tiniest details can make the biggest impression. This is definitely the case with your deck railing hardware.

A horizontal cable railing system requires several key components to ensure proper form and function. This includes both tensioning and non-tensioning hardware. Among others, some of the key pieces you may need are:

  • Barrel nut fittings
  • Cable fittings
  • Swageless fittings
  • Washers
  • Lag terminals
  • Deck toggles
  • Masonry terminals

Even if you’re just starting a new build, it’s worth the time to consider this investment carefully. On their own, these pieces are relatively inexpensive and it’s important to get the correct ones. 

While it might seem simple to just hop online and order new hardware from a big-box store or a digital supplier like Amazon, keep in mind that many universal components won’t offer the secure fit that you need.

That’s why it’s always best to source this material through a custom fencing and deck provider, like Butte Fence. 

Add Great Lighting

Few upgrades make a major statement quite like incredible deck lighting. If your deck is already built and still in great condition, a complete overhaul usually isn’t necessary. Rather, you might just need to make this one change to create an entirely new look at your home. 

When shopping for deck lighting, there are three main categories to keep in mind: safety lighting, task lighting and accent lighting.

Safety Lighting

In terms of safety lighting, the most important areas to illuminate are your stairways. By mounting lights on the risers, you can keep this area well-lit for your guests to travel onto, out of, and all around your deck.

You can also install in-floor deck lighting in certain areas that may be particularly dangerous, especially for your very young or elderly visitors. Strategic areas to install these lights include in deck corners or near seating areas. 

Task Lighting

Do you dream of enjoying a glass of wine with your partner on the back deck, watching the sun go down? Or, maybe you envision hanging out there with your neighbors, chatting over s’mores and coffee.

Either way, strategically placed task lighting can help keep these conversations going far into the night. If your deck is covered, you can add recessed can lights overhead to brighten up outdoor chairs and sectionals. 

In addition, you can also install task lights under your deck tables and outdoor kitchen areas to help guests navigate around the space. 

Accent Lighting

Finally, let’s get to the fun part! Accent lights serve one primary purpose: to make your back deck as beautiful and luminous as possible!

One of the most popular ways to tie in this type of lighting design is to install LED or solar-powered deck post cap lights! These blend in with the railing system during the day but truly come alive at night, allowing you to light your space without a clunky or cumbersome light system always in plain view. You can also install lights under your deck rails to achieve the same effect. 

Another exciting and nostalgic way to accent your deck with lighting? Why not hang festive string lights from one end to the other? You can find these in a variety of styles, from retro-inspired oversized bulbs to tiny, twinkling varieties. Turn them on, pop some popcorn, and outdoor movie night is done!

Invest in Comfortable, Beautiful Deck Furniture

With your railing, infill and lighting solutions in place, it’s time to actually spend time on your new deck!

It only takes one internet search to find that there are lots of different options on the market when it comes to outdoor furniture. You can find a wide variety of styles to meet any personal preference, color scheme or budget. A few of the most common pieces to invest in include:

  • Shade umbrellas
  • Dining tables
  • Lounge chairs
  • Love seats
  • Sectionals

When choosing the pieces for your home, there are a few important factors to consider. As you browse the collections, check to make sure that each piece you’re eyeing is:

  • Easy to clean
  • Mildew-resistant
  • Fade-resistant
  • Designed for sun exposure

Of course, it should also be comfortable and appropriately-sized for your space! If space allows, try to set up a few different areas around your deck dedicated to socializing, eating, working and playing. Then, you can choose the individual furniture pieces you need to help maximize the use of each space. 

Choosing Furniture to Complement Your Railing

Wondering how you can choose the right kind of furniture to complement your deck railing? Start by considering the vibe that your selection gives. If you’ve chosen to install stainless steel posts with a horizontal steel infill, your tastes are modern and sleek. 

This look lends itself well to minimalis furniture with clean, straight lines. Interestingly, mid-century modern pieces fit this bill completely, and have never been more on-trend.

On the other hand, which pieces might catch your eye if you decided on traditional vinyl railing and balusters? This is a classic look that incorporates easily into almost every style of furniture. However, there are a few tenets of traditional design that can help guide your selection. 

As you shop, look for:

  • Neutral colors 
  • Dark, wood tones
  • Regal or elegant touches
  • Ornate fabrics

Incorporate Elements of Nature

Our last tip on ways to update your deck might be the simplest and most accessible of them all. Once the furniture is in place and all of the other important details are tended to, you can start decorating and adding simple accessories.

In addition to pillows and indoor/outdoor rugs, why not spend a majority of your time focusing on adding the right touch of color and greenery to your deck?

Adding a few carefully-placed planters around the space can be the finishing touch you need. The best part of all? It’s usually much less expensive to go this route than invest in a pricey statue or fountain to beautify the space.

In addition to round, free-standing planters, you can also find rectangular planter boxes that are both practical and unique. These look especially great with horizontal deck railing, as the style and shapes are similar!

The Right Planters for Horizontal Deck Railing

To incorporate your planters more intricately with your horizontal deck railing design, look for accessories that can help you mount the two together. 

For instance, you can find deck railing hooks that allow you to hang the planters directly from the railing. Or, there are also adjustable deck railing planters that you can adjust and modify to grip the top rail of your horizontal railing system.

Especially if you’re limited on both time and space, deck railing planters are a gorgeous way to bring the outdoors a little closer. 

Plants For Every Season

However, you obviously need more than simply an empty planter with some topsoil. You also need another important element: plants and flowers!

A trip to your local hardware store can tell you what’s currently in season, but it pays to think ahead. When building your planters, try to look for plants that will retain their color for as long as possible. You can even create a little container garden on your back deck to keep the color going all year round!

Looking for tips on ways to keep yours looking great, and how to change it with the season? Here’s an in-depth guide that can show you the specific steps to follow.

Design Your Dream Deck With Us

At Butte Fence, we know what makes a deck beautiful and functional. That’s why we’re here to help you design your ideal one.

Will you choose horizontal deck railing or more traditional vertical rails? What about strategic lighting and essential hardware? There’s no right or wrong answer, and you’re free to let your creativity and imagination reign!

We have the partnerships and resources you need to complete this process efficiently and successfully. While you’re welcome to check out our online descriptions, it’s often easiest to see the materials in person. We invite you to visit our showrooms in Meridian and Kimberly, Idaho to see our selection in person.
Have any questions? Looking for more information? Feel free to contact us for a quote today.

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