Building a deck for your beach house can be a world of fun, and a family vacation there can be just the ticket. Mom and Dad can get stuck in, doing their ‘thing,’ and the kids can get involved with the smaller tasks and then hit the beach when they need a break. In all this activity, though, it’s easy to slap up the first deck railing that comes to mind, so be warned.
The best deck railing for a beach house is one that is functional, safe, and low-maintenance. Suitable materials include:
- Iron – Long-lived if treated correctly
- Stainless steel – Least corrosive
- Aluminum – Lightweight
- Wood – Warm
- Composite – Inexpensive
- Vinyl – Durable
- Cable – Very open
Apart from any safety considerations, the railing plays a vital part in completing the deck. Before guests even see the deck, the railing will jump out at them, so don’t skimp on this feature. There’s no need to commit a fortune to the project, but you will need to consider this:
What Do I Want From My Beach House’s Deck Railing?
Is it expected to prevent accidents? Perhaps there is a pool or another structure beside or below the deck. A neighbor’s garden, paved surface, or carport are other common dangers to avoid, particularly with small kids. You may want something solid to offer some privacy so that it is functional rather than decorative.
The most common requirement is that it finishes off your deck but is not intrusive; in place if required, only to enhance the deck’s beauty and never upstage it.
Your deck railing’s job is far more important than just looking good. It should also increase the safety of your deck by preventing falls and stopping children and pets from exiting unsupervised. Choosing a deck railing that is too low or one with too large gaps can be dangerous, and one that is too high can be very unsightly.
Which Deck Railing Material Is Best?
- The best material for a deck railing depends entirely on where your beach house is located, and what is available. Wood is durable and beautiful but requires maintenance and is not ideal for very wet environs.
If your beach home is located in a humid area or one with high rainfall, or if you are particularly close to the water, you might consider a solid wood sealed with yacht varnish.
A wood deck railing is a great option if the upkeep is not a problem. Be aware that laziness is not an option on a beach deck or railing, and wood must be sanded and treated every year. You may be able to extend this to bi-annually, but that’s not recommended.
- If you want your deck very open, and wish to create the illusion of space, consider cable railing. The thin cables are very easy to install, and this system works well with smaller decks or if you have a particularly beautiful view that you don’t want to block.
You can even visually tie the railing to a wooden deck by using beautiful hardwood on the top and bottom rails.
- Aluminum is a great choice if you want a clean, minimalistic look with low maintenance costs and issues. This metal is far less prone to rust and corrosion than many others, but make sure you get a powder-coated railing to ensure its longevity.
Despite being sturdy, aluminum is lightweight and quite soft, making it easy to work and install. Not overly expensive due to it being the most abundant metallic element on earth and the most commonly used nonferrous metal.
- If you are not planning to spend your summers working on the deck and railing of your beach house, you may care to consider vinyl. A vinyl railing is durable, inexpensive, and comes in a wide variety of styles. You’ve already seen it everywhere, from front porches to railings and marine decks.
Unlike wood, vinyl does not require painting or sealing, and once it’s in place – that’s it. Maintenance is a breeze. An existing wooden railing can also be covered by vinyl post sleeves, which helps prevent replacement costs.
- Composite materials are made from a mixture of wood fiber and durable plastic. This material combines the natural look of timber and the easy maintenance of aluminum or vinyl, etc. Great in tough weather conditions, composite railing won’t warp or splinter in the sun and rain.
- In the past, iron was considered less than ideal as a material for beachfront homes. However, manufacturers have recently started to add a powder-coating, e-coat, and corrosion-resistant finish to their galvanized iron deck railings. With these four layers of protection, iron is a lot more resistant to the corrosive effects of sea air and saltwater.
The choice of material can change the look of the railing entirely. Are you looking for warmth, a cool finish, or something in-between?
Before Choosing A Railing
- Regardless of our best intentions, the price comes into all purchases and improvements for most Americans (and folk elsewhere, I imagine) so give some time to the cost of your prospective railing. Hardwoods will cost a lot, but they will last far longer than the cheaper softwoods.
Aluminum, composite, and vinyl are not much more expensive than pine, etc., but will also last longer than the softwoods.
- What style would you consider? Regardless of price or material, the final choice will be with you for the next ten years at least, so choose well.
- Is it to be functional? If so, 40” is a good height to consider if you want to keep your loved ones safe. Gaps should not allow a child or small pet to slip through. (or get their head stuck in)
A beach house is not the Taj Mahal, so don’t get carried away with the deck, or (as we see more often,) the railing. The best deck railing for a beach house is one that is safe, simple, and weather-resistant.