10 Deck Railing Ideas

How you utilize your deck railing will totally change how your deck looks. Check out our ideas!

Imagine ending your day with a glass of wine on the back porch of your dreams. Whether you’re in the hills of California, or the Coast of Georgia, enjoying the sunset outside is the perfect way to end a long week. 

Creating the perfect outdoor space requires some thought and planning, and the deck railing can greatly impact this space.

If you’re planning to have a large back deck, it’s imperative to consider the railing. Not only is this an important safety feature, but it can also make the entire space feel inviting to your company and still feel connected with nature. 

Before you start your back deck plans, consider these elements. 

Consider the Size of Your Yard

If you plan to use part of your yard to let the kids and dogs play, you’ll want to consider using an appropriate-sized deck. 

Having a large outdoor living space is great, but you’ll want to ensure it doesn’t take up too much room and prevent the little ones from having a safe place to run around.  

Consider how much time you’ll spend on the back deck versus how much time you’ll spend in the actual yard. If you know you’re going to spend most of your time on the deck, it’s okay to have it take up more room in the backyard. 

Keep Safety in Mind

Regardless of the deck’s style, design, or size, keep safety as a priority. Especially if you have little ones running around, you’ll want to make sure the railing and deck itself is a safe place to gather.  

Conduct regular checks on the stairs and posts to ensure they haven’t come loose and aren’t a danger to you or your guests. 

Try to keep an eye on dogs or children if they are playing around the edges to avoid any possible injuries. 

If you’re building it yourself, make sure you know the proper slope for your steps. Making them too steep could cause injuries from tripping or missing a step. 

A spacious outside deck using white wooden railings.

Match Your Style 

Your outdoor space is an extension of your home. It’s another place to gather and celebrate, and it should reflect the style of the rest of your home. 

Whether your interior is French-inspired, farmhouse-style, or industrial, incorporate unique elements in your outdoor living space that will match your style. 

Matching the style on the back deck will make your home’s indoor and outdoor spaces feel cohesive and naturally flow from one to another. 

You can incorporate your own style and touch in subtle ways, like using a farmhouse-inspired planter, French pendant lights, or industrial handrails. 

Okay, now you’re ready to check ten amazing railing ideas for your dream back porch!

10 Deck Railing Ideas 

1. Mix Metal With Wood

A sleek look that can match almost any style is mixing metal with wood. These two elements go great together and can complement most interior styles.  

Using wood for the railing and main post on the back deck is a cost-efficient way to create the heart of this space. 

Use lighter wood for French-inspired or farmhouse-style homes and dark wood for industrial and mid-century homes

Once the wooden flooring and railings are in place, pair it with metal balusters (the smaller spindles that go between the main posts) to make a statement. 

Using metal for the balusters creates an instant upgrade and makes the space feel elegant and modern. 

The wood gives it a timeless and classic feel, and the best part is it’s easy to maintain. 

If you want to create a subtle look, use wood for the flooring and railing, but pair it with metal finishes. Use a black metal latch if you have a gate leading to the yard or black metal braces for areas of the porch that need the support. 

This achieves the look without feeling overwhelming or distracting and can work with any style!

Gray laminated planks as flooring and black and white railings in a house deck.

2. Create a Design With Wood Balusters 

There’s nothing wrong with using traditional wooden balusters for your deck railing. In fact, traditional vertical balusters look great for most homes, but if you’re going for a unique look that people will remember, create a design with them. 

There are tons of options if you go this route, and you can make it as complex or simple as you want. 

To give your railing a subtle but unexpected touch, only use the design in the balusters every few sections, and keep the standard vertical pattern in the rest of the sections. 

This gives your deck a unique element without feeling too overdone. It also makes the installation (whether it’s you or a contractor) easier and faster. 

If you’re going for the “wow” factor, use the same design in every section. Making an intricate design with wooden balusters would look great in farmhouse-style homes, mid-century modern homes, and even French-inspired homes. 

Although this option seems a bit involved, there are plenty of templates available online that can take you step-by-step through this process, making it a feasible DIY project. 

A criss-cross wooden railing pattern.

3. Go Horizontal Instead of Vertical 

A great way to put a unique spin on a traditional back porch is by using horizontal balusters instead of vertical ones. 

The change in direction will instantly upgrade this space, making it seem bigger and more sophisticated. 

The best part is you can create this unique look for any style. 

If you have an industrial home, use horizontal wires that tie into your wooden porch posts to create a modern and inner-city feel to your outdoor space. 

Farmhouse and country-inspired homes can use the same technique and materials, but feel specific to your style by adding elements such as metal post caps or hand-spun posts. 

If you’re going for a modern or chic style for this outdoor space, use black metal posts and horizontal wires running through the posts. This will give your outdoor deck an elegant and timeless look that will make you forget you’re in your backyard. 

If you don’t love the look of wires and wood, don’t worry! Running your normal wooden balusters horizontally instead of vertically can help you achieve the same level of sophistication. 

The horizontal balusters will need to be longer and thinner than they typically are, but with these adjustments, your outdoor space will get an instant face-lift. 

The color and type of wood you use can help you create a cohesive outdoor living space that perfectly matches the rest of your home. 

An outside patio with metal railings, tables and chairs

4. Create a Mountain-Inspired Outdoor Space 

Whether you have the mountains in your backyard or your daydreaming of your next trip to your favorite mountain get-away, incorporating specific designs in your back deck can help you feel connected with nature. 

An easy way to create the perfect mountain-inspired deck is by creating an “X” shape with each section of the railing. It reminds you of a quaint mountain barn and somehow makes us feel more connected to the world around us. 

This is a great option if you’re considering a DIY project because it’s inexpensive and quite simple to achieve. 

Instead of having multiple balusters running either horizontally or vertically, you’ll just have to run them diagonally and cross in the middle creating an “X.” 

It saves you money on supplies and time, considering that more intricate designs could take you days to complete.  

However, one note of caution for this option is that it’s not the best for households with children or pets. Since there are only two balusters running through each section, there is a largely unprotected area. 

If you have children or pets and use this design, make sure to keep them away from the edges or back it with durable glass. 

While this design draws inspiration from mountain living, there’s another option if you’re looking for a more treehouse or nature-inspired look. 

Using thick branches as your balusters will instantly transform your outdoor space into a dreamy treehouse-inspired deck. 

It’s perfect for a cottage in the woods or homes with an outdoorsy and adventurous style. 

A beautiful and wooden balcony overseeing a view of nature and mountains

5. Incorporate Built-In Seating 

Creating the perfect seating arrangement for any outdoor space can be difficult, especially in smaller spaces.

An easy way to instantly add seating options to your porch is by building seating options directly into the railing. 

Not only will this give you extra space for friends and family to gather, but it can also become your favorite place to curl up with a glass of wine or a good book.

The best part is you can completely customize this. If you have a large family and need as much seating as you can get, create a built-in bench that stretches the length of your deck.

If you want to create the perfect reading nook with the best view of the world beyond, you can create a short two-seater bench that’s built directly into the railing. 

You have total control of how much seating you create. It makes your outdoor space feel inviting and welcoming, and you can never go wrong with extra seating. 

It’s a great DIY project and can instantly add value to your home, meaning you’ll get a good return on your investment. 

A backyard wooden deck with a built-in corner seating.

6. Find Unique Post Caps 

An area of your porch that’s often forgotten about is the post caps. While they’re not exactly necessary, they can completely transform your outdoor space. They’re inexpensive and easy to install. 

There are post caps that can match any style or taste, and they can be as ornate or subtle as you want. 

If you have a modern or industrial-style home, try adding black metal post caps to the top of your posts. It protects the post and gives your outdoor area a face-lift. 

For French-inspired and farmhouse-style homes, use a copper or gold finished post cap to elevate the railing and play off the style used throughout your home. 

While these metal post caps are great, they don’t offer much customization to your space. If you want the outdoor area to shine, try finding a local contractor to hand-make wooden post caps. 

They’ll be completely unique to your home and become the showstopper of your entertaining area. 

When you have hand-made post caps, you’ll have the ability to add as much detail to them as you want. You can keep them simple with straight lines or make a unique piece that can only be found at your house. 

A beautifully weathered but still strong wooden railing.

7. Showcase Window Planters 

If you love showing off flowers from your garden, use window platers on your deck railing. 

Using them in your outdoor living area allows you to feel connected to nature, show off your green thumb, and bring life to this space. 

It’s a beautiful way to attract birds or butterflies to your porch, and you can switch out the flowers to create seasonal displays. 

This could be a great DIY project to complete with the kids or a great opportunity to hire a local contractor and let them showcase their skills. 

The window boxes can make the space feel inviting, and there’s a style that can perfectly match any home. 

Paint the window boxes white for mid-century and modern homes to create a timeless look and add some color to this space. 

Use raw-edge wood for farmhouse and mountain-inspired homes to feel connected to nature and allow the plants to be your pop of color. 

You can even find vintage or rustic planters to add the perfect accent to your industrial-style home. 

An detached wooden deck from house with a roof.

8. Incorporate Lights With Your Railing 

A fun and functional way to enhance your back deck is by using lights. This will make the space come to life at night, and it’s a safe addition to help your guests walk at night. 

For subtle lighting that won’t stick out or be noticeable during the day, use LED strips under the top railing of the deck. 

The lights will shine down onto the railing, creating a fun and inviting atmosphere and making the porch’s edges visible. 

Light strips are great because they won’t be seen during the day since they can be stapled to the underside of the top railing. They’re functional and instantly upgrade your space. 

If you’re looking for more obvious lighting options, you can install deck lanterns instead of using post caps on top of your posts. You can find small, solar-powered lanterns that add just the right amount of light and fun to your outdoor living area. 

Another great option to enhance functionality is lighting for your steps. If you have steps that lead to your yard, using small LED light strips on the stair railings will provide light and help you and your family avoid tripping at night. 

A beautifully lit house deck at night.

9. Use Glass Between the Posts 

Incorporating glass is a great way to enhance your outdoor deck area. If you have a beach house, a loft in the city, or a house in the woods with an unbelievable view, using glass is the way to go. 

While this will likely be a more expensive option, it brings class and sophistication to your space. It’s perfect for highlighting jaw-dropping views and helps you feel connected with nature. 

You can make this style more elegant by using black metal posts and incorporating glass sheets in between them. 

For a modern and toned-down look, you can use dark wood for the posts and top railing and incorporate the glass in between them. 

Hiring a local contractor may cost a bit more out of pocket, but it will be worth the peace of mind knowing the glass was installed correctly to prevent any possible injuries or accidents. 

This style may not fit every home, but if you’re looking for a way to show off your amazing views and upgrade your outdoor space, this is a great option. 

A modern balcony using a tempered glass and stainless railing.

10. Change the Shape of Your Deck 

While these are great ideas, it won’t matter if you’re working with an awkwardly shaped deck. 

If you have a large backyard, using a standard square or rectangular deck will work great with your space. You can add to the back or from the sides if your family starts to grow and you need more room. 

Consider changing the traditional square shape to a round shape when you’re working with a small yard but still want to get the most out of your outdoor living space. 

Although it will take more work and you might have to start from scratch, it will give you plenty of room to entertain and won’t eat up that much of your yard. 

You can even have fun with this and create a two-tiered space if you have a two-story home. Creating a deck that has multiple levels is fun and allows you to have different entertainment spaces in one. 

Using two different heights for this area can also put a pleasant spin on a sloping backyard or help you cover a crawl space that might have otherwise been an eyesore. 

A house exterior with fresh blue paint and an elevated patio.

Jessica Childres
Jessica Childres is a Georgia native and former teacher. She loves to share her skills, knowledge and passion with others. She has an ongoing interest in real estate, home decorating, and design.
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