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Forget Wood! Here Are 3 More Durable Options For Your Deck's Railing

Wood is a traditional deck material, and much of the information you find online for building and maintaining a deck will deal with wood, including adding the railings to it. With all of the more durable and attractive materials available today, though, many homeowners opt to forego wood for its comparative weakness to the elements. If you want your deck's railings to be made from materials that can stand up to plenty of bad weather, you might be surprised how diverse your options still are.

Glass Railings

Aesthetics: Glass railings provide a chic, modern look to any deck, particularly when the large panes stand alone. The near invisibility of glass provides a beautiful, unimpeded view of the natural surroundings. If you want more privacy, you can also opt for frosted glass, which allows you to block out the world and enjoy your deck in peace. As an added bonus, glass rails provide a safe viewing option that protects children and pets on raised decks.

Maintenance: Structural maintenance is not a problem for glass, which neither rusts nor rots. It does, however, need to be cleaned fairly often, especially if you choose clear glass. Cleaning is accomplished by spraying down the panes with a garden hose and wiping them with glass cleaner when you want to be extra thorough. Scratches are not common, but do occur in some circumstances, and must be buffed out by professionals.

Cost: As their beauty might suggest, glass railings are not cheap. Their durability ensures you won't need to replace or repair them for years, but this only drives the initial price up higher. They are the most expensive railing option.

Aluminum Handrails

Aesthetics: With a simple and unobtrusive design, aluminum hand rails lend themselves best to a minimalist style. Aluminum rails provide a no-frills option for homeowners who don't want an ornate or modern deck.

Maintenance: Like glass, aluminum neither rots nor rusts, though it can corrode over a very long period. Cleaning aluminum is exceedingly simple: just spray it down with a garden hose and occasionally scrub it with a rag to dislodge any stuck on grime. It is nonstick and does not need to be cleaned frequently. Damaged aluminum railing can be replaced fairly easily, if the elements are too rough with your deck.

Cost: Though costlier than wood, aluminum is generally less expensive than glass by far. You might expect to pay a similar price for aluminum as you would for vinyl.

Vinyl Rails

Aesthetics: Vinyl is a highly versatile material when it comes to appearances. If you like, you can have panels printed to look like wood, and from a distance it will be hard to tell the difference. Smooth panels and other textures are also available, as well as a wide assortment of colors to match the style of your home. Vinyl allows you a great deal of creative freedom when it comes to the appearance of your deck.

Maintenance: Like aluminum, vinyl is simple to care for with just a rag and a garden hose. Though it may resemble wood in some cases, it does not need to be sealed, treated, or painted to protect it from the elements. Repairs may be handled by the homeowner if the railing is made of simple vinyl panels, or they may need to be done by professionals if more detailed pieces are used.

Cost: Of the three common wood alternatives, vinyl is the least expensive. However, it may not last as long as aluminum or glass, so keep that in mind when you plan the budget for your home over the years to come.

Crossing wood off of your list of building materials doesn't have to limit your choice of railing creatively. If you still aren't sure which material will best suit your deck's needs, it might be a good idea to consult a local contractor or deck builder. With enough research and professional guidance, you can have the perfect wood-free deck to match your home and withstand everything nature can throw at it.