When decks became a fixture across North American neighborhoods in the 1950s and 1960s as the post-World War II economy kicked into high gear, just about the only game in town was wood – wood for the main building material, and wood for the railings and steps. Households in higher income brackets could splurge a little more, but even then the most “exotic” materials used for deck railings were wrought iron or steel.
Over the last several years, more and more homeowners in the Greater Toronto Area have turned to the professionals at ME Contracting to build decks and deck railings featuring the most unique designs and utilizing a variety of building materials tailored for any budget.
Times have changed, trends have come and gone, but consumers are left with more choices for decks and deck railings than at any other time in history. If you’re in the market for a new deck, you’ll invariably need railings to finalize the design.
Here are the building materials homeowners most often choose for deck railings:
- The number one material for deck railings is wood, particularly well known species like Cedar, Cypress, pressure-treated Pine and Fir, Redwood, composite materials (wood and plastic combined using adhesives), and more costly but durable tropical species like Brazilian hardwood or Ipe (pronounced “ee-pay”). In fact, Ipe is one of the longest lasting woods available, legendary for its ability to withstand the ravages of the environment for 50 years or more after being cut – all without the benefit of sealants.
- Thanks to advanced mining and manufacturing techniques, iron ore is more plentiful and economically viable as a material for deck railings than ever before. Wrought Iron is versatile and something of an architectural “chameleon” because it can be enhanced with intricate scroll work and details such as lettering and even nature shapes like birds, plants, or flowers. Best of all, wrought iron will last for decades with simple, ongoing maintenance.
- Many deck railings are now made from reinforced plastic materials, which in some cases cost about 15% more than composite while keeping many of the same characteristics: Uniform appearance, resistant to insects and rot, and cools quickly in hot weather. This type of material requires little maintenance but, as many customers have noted, the colour will fade over time – often to a shade of light gray. Thanks to advanced manufacturing and designs, plastic deck railings can share the same surface appearance and finish as you’d find in their wooden counterparts.
- Stainless steel is another popular option for deck railings. As a building material, it’s easy to mold and can therefore match many styles. Stainless steel collects its share of smudges and fingerprints but it easy to clean. On the other hand, this material sometimes becomes unbearably hot in warm weather.
Finally, glass as a material for deck railings is perhaps the most extreme example of a luxury building material. Different kinds of materials can be used with tempered glass to create an attractive composition that can enhance views from a deck and provide years of enjoyment.