How To Find The Best Metal Deck Railings For Your Deck

Metal deck railing is a great choice for any deck: compared to other deck railing materials, metal is strong, stable, and lasts for years. But there are tons of metal railing options on the market. How do you find the right fit for your deck?

In our experience, the best way to start shopping metal deck railings is to figure out the look you want: both the shape of your top rail and the infill material you want in between your top and bottom rail. Our handy guide will help you better understand the options and select the perfect metal railing for your deck or porch.

The distinctive look of Key-Link metal deck railing

Table of Contents

What Do You Want Your Top Rail To Look Like?

The first question to ask is what you want your top rail profile to look like. The top rail is a highly visible part of your deck railing, and its shape can vary wildly from traditional to modern.

We'll run through our favorite top rail profiles below so you can see which one calls to you.

Best Traditional Metal Railings

Traditional metal deck railings have a soft, rounded-off look to them. Some will have a bit of a T-shape with a rounded top - that's sometimes called a "breadloaf" look because it looks a little like a slice of bread.

Here are our favorite traditional metal railings:

AFCO Pro Metal Railing

The traditional rounded top rail of AFCO Pro Railing

AFCO is known for incredible quality craftsmanship - they create high-quality railings that look and perform great. Their AFCO Pro Aluminum Deck Railing features one of the best traditional top rails we've seen:

All the components of an AFCO Pro Level Rail Kit

It's a classic rounded-off shape, but marries form and function with the "breadloaf" shape we talked about above. That makes it easy to grasp as you're walking alongside it.

Shop AFCO Pro

Fortress AL13 Home

Scenic aluminum deck railing from Fortress

Fortress AL13 is another outstanding traditional option. It's incredibly easy to install, coming as a pre-welded panel with rails and balusters already connected. The top rail is slim and rounded, giving a classic look without cutting into your deck view:

The traditional rounded top rail of Fortress AL13 Aluminum Railing
Shop Fortress AL13

Best Flat Top Metal Railings

Some decks look great with traditional railings. Others need a slightly more modern look. A flat top deck railing is especially functional, because it can often serve as a space to set drinks, plates or decorations. That's led to the term "drink rail" for a railing where you can rest a drink.

Here are our favorite flat top and drink rail railings:

AFCO Flat Top Metal Railing

A Flat Top AFCO Metal Railing with a drink rail installed

Once again, AFCO tops the list. In addition to their rounded AFCO Pro top rail, the railing brand has a dynamite flat top rail that can either stand alone, or mount a composite deck board on top, as shown above.

The components of an AFCO Flat Top Railing

The AFCO Flat Top rail is smooth and polished in a nice T-shape that fits really well with a lot of house and deck styles.

Shop AFCO Flat Top

Trex Signature Railing

Trex Signature Aluminum Railing in black

Another great choice when it comes to flat top metal deck railings is Trex Signature. The Trex brand is incredibly proven and popular when it comes to decks, and the Signature line captures Trex's polished style within sturdy aluminum deck railings.

If you're looking for a minimalist style that lets your deck view take center stage, Trex Signature Aluminum Railings are a perfect choice.

Shop Trex Signature Railing

Best Metal Railing For A Unique, Distinctive Top Rail Shape

Some decks just don't fit a pre-established mold. If you don't want a deck that fits the traditional/modern dichotomy, check out our best aluminum deck railings with a completely unique top rail profile:

Century Aluminum Railing

Century Aluminum Railings feature an incredibly unique top rail that's completely rounded into a pipe-like shape, which you can see below:

Century Aluminum Deck Railing's distinctive rounded top rail

The style can really work in the right deck space, because almost everything on a deck tends to be square: the shape, the boards, the framing, the posts. Adding a prominent round piece can set your deck apart from the neighborhood:

Century Aluminum Railing
Shop Century Aluminum Railing

Best Modern Looking Metal Deck Railings

For some decks, though, a sleek, modern look is just the ticket. Metal railing already has strong modern vibes, and the powder-coated finish of aluminum railings really complements modern decorations well.

When it comes to modern metal deck railings, we've got a clear standout:

Key-Link American Series Metal Railing

The distinctive, modern look of Key-Link American Baluster Railing

Key-Link makes a top-quality metal deck railing system with a top rail that's both completely unique and perfectly modern. Key-Link calls it the American Series top rail profile. We just call it brilliant.

Key-Link Metal Deck Railing

The unique ridging on the top rail offers beautiful complexity up close and subtletexture from far away. Key-Link's American Series is one of the best aluminum deck railings you'll find to complete a totally modern deck look.

Shop Key-Link American Series

What Do You Want Between Your Posts And Rails?

Beyond the wealth of top rail profile options, steel and aluminum deck railings also offer lots of choices when it comes to infill - that's what we call the parts in between your top and bottom rail.

Metal deck railings can feature straight balusters as infill. But they can also accommodate stainless steel cable runs, glass panels, glass balusters, or really unique looks like hog wire mesh.

Best Metal Baluster Railings

A classic deck railing will feature balusters: thin pieces that run parallel to your posts and perpendicular to your top and bottom rail. If you love the appealing symmetry of baluster railing, we've got three outstanding metal railings to recommend:

Key-Link American Baluster Railing

Key-Link Metal Railing with balusters

We'll return to the beauty of the Key-Link American Series railing. Key-Link's high-quality aluminum makes for a deck railing that looks and performs incredibly well. The beautifully distinctive top rail stands out while the metal balusters are familiar and welcoming.

Key-Link aluminum deck railing's distinctive posts and rails
Shop Key-Link American Baluster

Trex Signature Metal Railing

Trex Signature Aluminum Deck Railing

Trex Signature is another one of our favorites. The versatile Trex system can fit in with nearly any deck railing design. As you'll see further down this page, the Trex Signature framework can also work with a huge range of different infill options.

Shop Trex Signature Aluminum

AFCO Pro Railing

The rounded profile of the AFCO Pro Metal Railing

AFCO makes aluminum railings that are incredibly high-value: they look and perform great in all elements, and their baluster railing systems are a great choice for any outdoor space.

With AFCO Aluminum Railings, you can choose between the traditional Pro top rail (shown above) or the flat top rail (shown below with a deck board attached as a drink rail).

AFCO Flat Top Deck Railing with a drink rail installed
Shop AFCO Pro

Best Hog Wire Mesh Railing

If you're looking for the modern farmhouse look that's all the rage right now, look no further. We love Trex Signature Mesh for a beautiful hog wire panel style.

Trex Signature Mesh Railing

The popular hog wire panel look of Trex Signature Railing with Mesh infill

The same Trex Signature rails and posts that we profiled above can feature hog wire fence panels as infill for a gorgeous modern farmhouse look. The mesh panels are a gray stainless steel, which looks incredible with the Charcoal Black posts and rails in the Trex Signature system.

Shop Trex Signature Mesh

Best Metal Railing With Cable Runs

If you're looking for metal deck railing ideas to maximize your deck's view, look no further than cable railing. Stainless steel cable runs were invented in coastal regions to accent ocean views. Now, they've been adopted all over on decks with great views of lakes, rivers, oceans, forests, or just especially beautifully-landscaped yards.

You can incorporate cable railing into your deck plan while still getting the strength and reliability of metal railing components.

Key-Link Horizontal & Vertical Cable Railing

Key-Link Horizontal Cable

You can get Key-Link's stunning top rail with stainless steel cable infill for a look that's sharp and modern from top to bottom. An added bonus: Key-Link offers both horizontal cable railing (shown above) or vertical cable railing (shown below) to fit the look you want for your outdoor deck space.

The Key-Link Horizontal Cable Railing system features no bottom rail, which can open up your view even further.

Shop Key-Link Horizontal Cable
Key-Link Vertical Cable Railing
Shop Key-Link Vertical Cable

AFCO Cable Railing

AFCO Cable Railing opens up your deck view

For a more traditional top rail, check out AFCO's Cable Railing. Just like the baluster railing, AFCO's cable setup can feature the classic Pro style rounded top rail, or a more modern flat top railing which you can top with a composite deck board drink rail.

If you're going with a cable railing drink rail, we'd highly recommend this AFCO Flat Top system. It looks incredibly beautiful and low-profile.

AFCO Flat Top Cable Railing with a deck board as a drink rail
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Best Metal Railings With Glass Panels

For the height of luxury, you can cap off your deck railing design with full glass panel railing. Glass will open up your view the most or any infill material, and it also makes your deck look bigger by inviting light in.

One of the cons of glass railing is that it can be hard to measure and source glass panels.Fortunately, DecksDirect makes it easy with our custom-cut glass panel program. Just give us a call at 1-888-824-5316 to order up glass panels perfectly sized to fit your space.

Trex Signature Glass Railing

Trex Signature Railing with full glass panels

Trex Signature's versatile system is also one of the best at incorporating tempered glass panels. With Trex Signature Glass Railing, you'll get a beautifully modern setup that sandwiches each panel between the top and bottom rails with a small gap near the posts to let in the breeze.

The Trex brand name also makes it easy to add compatible lighting to your deck - a must when you want to enjoy your luxurious space into the night.

Shop Trex Signature Glass

AFCO Glass Railing

AFCO Glass deck railing opens up a deck space

AFCO also makes an excellent glass deck railing system. With AFCO Glass, you get the more traditional rounded top rail, which is a better fit for some decks than the modern Trex Signature look. Pairing that traditional top rail with the modern look of glass gives your deck a timeless quality that will hold up for years to come.

Shop AFCO Glass

Most Cost-Effective Metal Deck Railing

If you own a worn-out wood deck, metal railing can be a great short-term upgrade for weathered, splintering wood deck railing. If you're staging out deck upgrades, you might be looking for the most economical metal deck railing option.

For metal deck railing on a budget, we love Century Aluminum.

Century Aluminum Railing

A cost-effective metal deck railing setup using Century Aluminum Railing

In addition to its distinctive rounded top rail look, Century Aluminum Railing is known for being an excellent value. Century Railings are a great budget option, and they come in three beautiful colors: black, white, and lakeside bronze.

Shop Century Aluminum Railing

Best Metal Railing For DIY Installation

If you're looking to install metal railing yourself, rather than hiring it out to a contractor, you're in luck. Metal railings tend to be relatively easy to assemble, though there's still definitely railings that take some specialized expertise. We've pulled out our favorite DIY metal deck railings:

Fortress AL13 Aluminum Railing

Fortress AL13 Home Deck Railing installed

When it comes to easy-install deck railings, Fortress AL13 is a proven winner. The Fortress system is designed to be easy to install - in fact, the manufacturer takes a lot of the work on themselves by pre-welding each railing panel before shipping them. You can see a pre-welded panel below:

A pre-welded Fortress AL13 Rail Panel

But Fortress doesn't stop there. The brand also attaches its brackets to the posts. That's a huge help, saving you a lot of time measuring and attaching brackets and ensuring that your railing sections will fit together nicely.

It's easy to install deck railing using Fortress AL13's pre-bracketed posts

Here's an up-close look at Fortress's pre-bracketed posts:

Fortress AL13 posts come with brackets already installed to save time on installation
Shop Fortress AL13

Century Aluminum Railing

Century Aluminum Deck Railing on stairs

In addition to being incredibly cost-effective, Century Aluminum Railing is also one of the easiest metal railings you'll find for DIY installation. The Century system comes in pre-welded panels that ship as one solid piece. They also install easily between pre-bracketed posts, saving time on bracket attachment.

Shop Century Aluminum Railing

Strongest Metal Deck Railing

If you're looking to double down on strength, look for a steel deck railing system. Steel railings are strong and durable - here's our favorite deck railing for strength:

Fortress FE26 Steel Railing

Fortress FE26 Steel deck railing is strong and solid

Fortress FE26 steel railings give you the best strength on the market. You can feel the strength in the steel - it's sturdier and heavier than aluminum deck railings. The other advantage of steel is that the added strength allows you to run longer sections of railing between your posts - that opens up your view, as you can see above.

Shop Fortress FE26

Learn more about the basics of deck framing and building in our Deck Framing Guide and learn deck parts and terminology in the DecksDirect Glossary of Deck Terms and Lingo.

Browse more deck design and railing style notes to upgrade your backyard space and deck in the DecksDirect Railing Style Guide: the quickest way to learn if your home is more suited for a classic aluminum deck railing or a showstopping cable rail setup.

The more you know, the better your deck and backyard projects will be! Whether you're looking at a brand new project, a deck update, or a style refresh, give our deck project planners a call at 1-888-824-5316 or send us an email at hello@decksdirect.com. Our friendly team will help you get the information, products, and tools you need for an awesome deck completely personalized to your needs!