Your Top 3 Deck Railing Questions – Answered!


Deck railing can take your outdoor space from okay to outstanding in an instant. The top rail profile and baluster style, as well as the colors and finishes you choose, can all work together to give your deck a customized, well-coordinated look. And let’s not forget, when it comes to increasing deck safety and security, railing is essential.

Below you’ll find answers to the most-commonly asked questions regarding deck railing. Use this information to help you select the best products for your home and your lifestyle.

  1. Do I have to install a railing system?
    Deck railing greatly increases the safety and security of your space. Building codes vary from state to state, but in general, all single-family residential decks that are higher than 30” above grade are required to having a railing system that is 36” or greater in height.
  2. What type of railing should I use?
    The type of railing you select is entirely up to you. Before you make your decision, spend some time browsing through photo galleries for inspiration. And consider these factors as well:

    • The style of your home: Is your home a colonial, ranch, Craftsman, or Victorian? Does the architecture lend itself to a traditional railing (such as white railing with matching square balusters) or something more contemporary (maybe a wood finish with round metal balusters)?
    • The view: Is the view from your deck something you want to showcase? When it comes to infills, black metal balusters are a nice option, as they tend to recede into the background rather than interfere with the view. For even greater visibility, consider clear acrylic panels.  They’re a popular choice at ski resorts and dockside restaurants, but can also be used for a backyard space. And when it comes to the view, consider the span length of the railing – that’s the distance between rail posts. Longer span lengths mean fewer rail posts, which equates to a more uninterrupted backyard view.
    • Maintenance: When it comes to low maintenance railing, you can’t beat composites. Unlike wood railing, composites never need painting, staining, or refinishing — and let’s face it, no one likes repainting railing!  Plus, composites are super easy to clean (more on that later).
    • Lighting: Today, there are many railing systems that offer integrated lighting — a nice option for people who enjoy using their decks after dark. Generally speaking, the most common options for rail lighting are post cap lights and post sleeve lights.
      • Post cap lights: These lights form a collar around the caps on rail posts. Fiberon post cap lights feature a translucent acrylic lens that provides a soft, warm glow to highlight your deck space below. Post cap lights consume only one watt of electricity. Use them on all rail posts or intersperse unlit post caps as desired.
      • Post sleeve lights: These small globes are attached to the rail posts and shine directly down the post. Fiberon post sleeve are recommended for lighting stairs as well as deck spaces, and are available in four colors. They also consume only one watt of electricity per light.

Great Railing offers a range of lighting for both railings and decking, including riser lights and accent lighting as well as post cap and sleeve lights. Remote control dimmers and other accessories are available, too. View the complete line here.

  1. How do I care for composite railing?
    Composite railing never needs sanding, staining or repainting. Because it is an outdoor product, it will collect dirt and pollen from time to time — not to mention, the errant splash of ketchup or lemonade. Here are some quick tips on keeping your composite railing looking its best:

    • Dislodge accumulated dirt with a broom, or wash the railing using soap and water and a non-metal scrub brush. Thoroughly rinse off with a garden hose when you are finished.
    • While we don’t advise pressure washing (in the wrong hands you could damage your railing and your deck), a skilled professional could use a pressure washer with wide fan tips at low pressures (under 3,000 psi) and at a safe distance, 10” above deck. Please, exercise extreme caution.
    • For oil or grease stains, a speedy clean-up is best. To clean grease and oil stains that soap and water cannot remove, try an all-purpose cleaner such as Fantastik. Or use a commercial deck/rail cleaner designed specifically for your type of decking or railing. De-Solv-It Citrus Solution is effective in removing tar, asphalt, oil, grease and chewing gum. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and test in an inconspicuous area first.

Just as Great Railing offers decking to suit different styles and budgets, we also have railing to meet almost any homeowner’s needs. Check out the full line at

About njjacob