Railing Basics - Railing Terms

Knowing the lingo will make you confident in discussing and purchasing deck railing. Some images are included below, for a full list with images, Download our Deck Railing Guide.pdf


Additional support between framing to accept rail post attachments.

Railing Guide Terms - Blocking


The hardware that attaches a rail plate to the newel post. Typically available in adjustable or straight.

Graspable hand rail

A top rail or interior secondary uninterrupted handrail on a staircase. It is designed to provide a safety element that is easy to grip.

Lineal measurement

Straight line measurement (in feet and inches) of rail to be installed.

Surface Mount Posts

A post that is attached to the deck surface.


The vertical board framing the perimeter of the deck.

Railing Guide Terms - Fascia

Nominal Dimensions

The nominal size of a post or board refers to its “named” size rather than its actual measurements. For example, a post called 4x4 actually measures 3-1/2" x 3-1/2".

Structural Newel Post

A post that on its own provides the strength required to satisfy code requirements or provide sufficient resistance for the rail system.

Post Sleeve

A decorative cover that slides over a structural interior post (typically a wood post).

Fascia-mount newel posts

Posts that are affixed to the fascia board (on the outside of the decking surface).

Railing Guide Terms - Fascia mount newel post

Structural Post

The main weight-bearing support posts that hold up the frame of the deck.

Rail Plate

Horizontal top and bottom structural boards, typically made of wood, composite, aluminum or steel, that form a connection between newel posts.

Railing Infill

Horizontal or vertical elements that fit between upper and lower rail plates, designed for safety, but are often chosen based on aesthetics. See standard balusters, face mount balusters, glass, and cable below.

On Center

This refers to measuring from the center of one point to the next, such as 4” on center spacing between two ¾” balusters results in an opening measurement of 3-1/4”.

Railing Guide Terms - On center

Railing Infill – Standard Balusters

Also known as pickets or spindles, these attach between the top and bottom rail plate.

Railing Infill – Face Mount Balusters

Pickets or spindles that attach to the front or back side of the rail plates.

Railing Infill – Glass

Tempered or laminated material that provides unobstructed views from the deck. Available in panels or balusters, can also be face mounted in some cases.

Post skirt/flare

A decorative trim piece that surrounds the base of a surface-mount post. Conceals fasteners that connect the post to the deck.

Rail Cap

A finishing element that adds a decorative profile above the top rail plate.


A guide designed to make installation of brackets easier in their proper locations.

Railing Infill Cable

Horizontal or vertical stainless steel cables.

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