It's all in the details. When you envision yourself on a new deck, you’re probably thinking about the moments you’ll spend with friends and family, socializing and relaxing. You’re not pondering the individual elements of construction like balusters. And yet, along with the decking itself, balusters provide the details that outline every moment there.

If you’re about to build a new deck, or feel like upgrading the one you have now, then this baluster guide is just for you. From stately wood to clear glass, here’s a quick introduction to the styles and choices in balusters today: and why they matter.


For additional assistance or advice, take advantage of the experts at DecksDirect by calling 1-888-824-5316. We're in the office from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. CST Monday - Thursday, 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. CST Friday, and 11:30a.m. to 8 p.m. CST Sunday.


For best results on your project, we recommend reading through the topics in order.


▢ Measure

Measure twice, order once! Make sure you have accurate deck measurements from which to create your materials list. Jot these numbers down and make a quick sketch of the space. Don’t worry if it’s not a professional drawing, a simple sketch will help when deciding what materials are needed.


▢ Choose Railing

DecksDirect offers a variety of railing choices, read our Things to Consider section in this railing guide for tips on choosing the perfect railing.


▢ Plan

Plan your newel post layout according to the rail lengths available in your selected rail system. (Be sure to look at actual lengths of rail sections. Because some systems use “on center” measurements, 6' and 8' doesn’t always mean 72" and 96".) Then, add these posts and rail sections to your sketch.


▢ Choose Posts

Are the posts for your selected system structural or sleeves?

If structural, do you have bolts for attaching to the deck surface? Consider GRK Rugged Structural Screws.

If they are sleeves, do you have an attachment method for your wood interior posts? The Titan Wood Post Anchor is a handy, sturdy solution. Or, consider using a Structural Post Inserts instead of wood posts.

Posts for level rail are shorter than the posts that are used on the mid points or bottoms of stair cases. You will have options with most manufacturers for multiple lengths. The posts for the stairs should be 42" or taller for 36" rail.


▢ Choose Post Caps

If you railing system does not include post caps and you are planning a post-to-post style rail, select your post caps. DecksDirect lists post caps according to the size of the opening of the cap. If you have a 4" post, you will need a post cap that is 4-1/16" or larger. Many railing manufacturers have post caps designed specifically for their systems. We also offer a variety of post cap options here.


▢ Choose Skirts

If you railing system does not include post skirts, select your post skirts/flares to cover the attachment of the post to the deck. Most often you will choose the post skirt that is designed specifically for your railing system.


▢ Choose Level Rail Kits

Try to order your rails sections as close to the length of sections on your deck for cost effectiveness. You can cut sections and use for two rail sections on your deck,
i.e (1) 8' section can be cut to (2) 4' sections. To do this you will need to order an additional rail hardware kit.


▢ Choose Stair Rail Kits

Rail manufacturers differ in how these are sold, so check which systems are manufactured at a fixed angle and which are adjustable, then determine which of those options work best for you. Some manufacturers offer both options.

Find out if the system you chose meets the graspable handrail requirements. If it does not, or if you have a center post on your stair rail that interrupts the handrail from being continuous, a continuous graspable handrail may need to be installed. View our handrail options.


▢ Additional Brackets

Order any additional brackets that you may need for angles or split rail sections.


▢ Hardware

Most railing does not come with fastening hardware. The type of fastener needed will depend on the surface the railing is being fastened to. For example, if you are fastening to a wood or composite deck with blocking you will need a long structural screw. If you are installing a railing on a concrete patio, a concrete structural screw is needed. View all of our hardware options.


▢ Lighting

Lighting is a great way to add interest and safety. If your deck has stairs, lighting is required by the International Residential Code (IRC). Some railing manufacturers offer a line of lighting that integrates seamlessly. View all of our deck lighting.


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