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Best Metal Deck Railings For 2023

Discover The Best Metal Railing Systems For Your Deck

If you've done any shopping for a new metal deck railing, you've almost certainly asked yourself the question:

"How can I decide which railing I need," you ask, throwing up your hands. "They all look the same!"

You're not alone, valued reader. But while metal railings can often look the same in photographs, they'll look and perform drastically different when you actually get them on your deck.

With that in mind, we've tapped our in-house deck project experts to help handpick the best metal railings on the market in 2023, along with the high points of each. Read on to learn the differences between the top deck railing systems and pick the best one for your deck and home.

The stylish, modern look of Trex Signature Aluminum Railing, one of DecksDirect's Best Metal Railing Systems of 2023

Table of Contents

Best Modern Metal Deck Railing

Because of its sleek, polished finish, metal deck railing is an ideal choice for a modern-looking deck - or to bring modern flair to a more traditional deck. Here are our favorite deck railings if you want to really lean in to the modern vibes:

Best Modern Look: Trex Signature Railing

What We Love About It:

  • The proven quality of the Trex brand name
  • Minimalist top rail looks totally modern
  • Ultra low-maintenance
The low-profile, modern look of Trex Signature metal railing on a suburban deck

Trex is the best-known name in decking, so it's no surprise to see that they've mastered the style of metal deck railing. The Trex Signature Aluminum Railing system is modern perfection, complete with a sleek, minimalist top rail that provides stability without obstructing your view.

With the Trex brand name comes peace of mind that your railing will be built to last. Trex products are exceptionally durable, even while requiring very minimal regular maintenance. Plus, Trex's proven, timeless looks have endured for decades without going out of style.

For a easy-to-shop, easy-to-maintain metal deck railing, you can't go wrong with Trex Signature. You can see an u-close look at the shape of the top and bottom rails below to see if it suits your vision:

The contents of a complete Trex Signature Rail Kit
Shop Trex Signature

Best Modern Look: Key-Link American Railing

What We Love About It:

  • Gorgeous craftsman details on rails and posts
  • Sleek, timeless style
  • Multiple post sizes for a customizable look
Soft lighting highlights the gorgeous craftsman details on each Key-Link railing post and rail

For a slightly more ornate look than the minimalist Trex Signature, we love the look of Key-Link's American Series Aluminum Railing.

Key-Link's rails and posts are intricately detailed, adding a level of craftsman charm to the look. Above, you can see the unique shaping of the top rail, along with the subtly recessed panels on the side of each post.

If your deck has a lot of craftsman details (like stone columns, ornate deck furniture, or natural textures like wood, stone, or brick), Key-Link is a perfect match. It pairs modern style with craftsman charm in a way that few other railings can.

A modern luxury deck using Key-Link Aluminum Railing for strength and style
Shop Key-Link American

Best Traditional Metal Deck Railing

If you've got a more classic-looking home, you might wonder whether the modern look of metal railing will clash. The good news is that metal railings come in all shapes and sizes, and a few seemingly-small features can make a railing mesh perfectly within a more traditional setting. Here's our top railing for classic homes:

Best Traditional Look: AFCO Pro Railing

What We Love About It:

  • Incredibly versatile - fits perfectly on traditional or modern homes
  • "Breadloaf" style graspable top rail for safety
  • High-quality craftsmanship and durability
A classic home using the versatile look of AFCO Pro deck railing, also known as AFCO 300 series

AFCO has brilliantly managed to bridge the gap between modern and traditional with its AFCO Pro Aluminum Railing system. Perfectly at home on any deck, AFCO Pro is an ideal choice when installing a metal railing onto a more classically-styled deck.

The secret is in AFCO's carefully-designed top rail. Where most metal railings chase modern shapes and clean lines, AFCO Pro takes a much more traditional shape with a rounded-off top rail. Sometimes called a "breadloaf" shape, this classic look brings a ton of character to any deck space.

The contents of a complete AFCO Pro rail kit are easy to assemble, even for DIYers

The other bonus? The rounded-off "T" shape is easily graspable as you walk along it, creating almost a built-in handrail for guest safety.

All of AFCO's railings are quality-crafted from powder-coated aluminum with excellent attention to details, and we love recommending their systems, especially to customers looking to spice up a traditional deck without veering completely into the modern.

Shop AFCO Pro

Easiest Metal Deck Railing For DIY Installation

In general, metal deck railings are fairly easy to install, coming in straightforward kits that fit together almost like Lego blocks for adults. That said, a few systems really go above and beyond when it comes to making installation easy on deck owners. Here are the best DIY metal deck railings available:

Best DIY Installation: Fortress FE26 Steel Railing

What We Love About It:

  • Super fast installation with pre-bracketed posts and pre-welded panels
  • The strength of steel components allows for fewer and thinner posts
  • Tons of customization options from fascia mounting to drink rails to top rail accents
The easiest DIY deck railing on the market in 2023: Fortress's FE26 steel system

When it comes to streamlining the DIY experience, Fortress is in a category all its own. The brand's all-steel FE26 railing line takes ease of install to a totally new level.

For most level railing sections, you can order Fortress posts with the brackets already installed. The pre-bracketed posts save you valuable installation time, and ensure that every panel gets installed perfectly without meticulous measuring and marking for your bracket placement.

A Fortress post with rail brackets already attached to save time at installation

Plus, Fortress's railing sections ship to your door as pre-welded panels with the balusters already attached to the top and bottom rail. That allows you to simply cut the panel down to size and attach it to the brackets - it's that easy.

Even Fortress angled stair panels come pre-assembled, with balusters welded to hinges so you can adjust the panel to fit your stairs. The added bonuses: pre-welded panels create the strongest railing sections possible and make sure your balusters don't shake or rattle.

Shop FE26

Best DIY Installation: Deckorators Contemporary Aluminum Railing

What We Love About It:

  • Pre-welded panels for super fast installation
  • Easy to shop and plan - brackets come with rail panels
  • Unique weathered brown color option
Deckorators Contemporary metal deck railing, one of DecksDirect's Easiest DIY deck railings of 2023

Trusted outdoor living brand Deckorators also offers an exceptionally DIY-friendly railing in its Contemporary railing line.

Like Fortress FE26, the Deckorators Contemporary system uses pre-welded railing panels so you don't have to attach each baluster to your top rail and bottom rail. The panels come with coordinating brackets that are quick and easy to attach to Deckorators posts.

A pre-welded railing panel from the Deckorators Contemporary system saves you assembly time and makes installation fast and easy

The Deckorators Contemporary system can also deliver a unique look, because it comes with a distinctive Weathered Brown color option that you won't find in many other railing systems.

Shop Deckorators Contemporary

Strongest Metal Deck Railing

If pure strength is your priority, there's no substitute for the weight of steel. Most metal deck railing systems use aluminum, which is plenty strong to meet building codes. But Fortress's FE26 steel deck railing system goes above and beyond with strength, which leads to several key benefits you might not have thought about:

Strongest Railing: Fortress FE26 Steel Railing

What We Love About It:

  • Strong, pre-welded panels allow for longer spans between posts - up to 10 feet
  • Thinner posts and rails without compromising strength
  • Sturdy, space-saving fascia-mount option
A long railing panel - one of the key perks of Fortress FE26, the strongest deck railing on the market

The strength of steel means that Fortress can design a sleeker, thinner deck railing that needs less bulk to deliver the same amount of strength. What does that look like on your deck? Fewer posts blocking your view. Thinner posts. Longer railing sections, up to 10 feet across between posts. And a more minimalist railing look.

Plus, the strength of steel allows you to fascia mount your railing if you're looking to maximize the space on top of your deck. You can see a Fortress fascia-mounted post below:

A steel deck railing mounted to the fascia outside a deck, another perk of Fortress FE26, the strongest deck railing on the market
Shop FE26

Best Metal Deck Railing With A Drink Rail

A flat top rail can serve both form and function: looking stylish and modern while providing a handy place to set a glass of wine, a cup of coffee, a plate of food, or a decorative planter.

It's called a drink rail or a cocktail rail - and some deck railing systems do them especially well.

Best Drink Rail: AFCO Flat Top Railing

What We Love About It:

  • Looks amazing with a variety of deck boards mounted on top
  • Flat top rail creates a functional drink rail with or without a deck board mounted
  • Versatile look makes a drink rail mesh with any style of house
A stylish AFCO deck railing with a deck board attached to create a beautiful and functional cocktail rail

The AFCO system was born to feature a drink rail. The brand offers two different top rails: the rounded "Pro" top rail (we profiled this one above) and the modern "Flat Top" rail. The Flat Top version makes a dynamite drink rail.

You can mount the deck board of your choice on top, as shown above, or just use the metal flat top rail by itself, as shown below. The AFCO system is brilliantly designed, and it's a DecksDirect favorite to recommend to customers who crave that drink rail look.

An AFCO Flat Top deck railing attached to a sleek metal AFCO post

Like the AFCO Pro system, the AFCO Flat Top look comes in straightforward rail kits and post kits that make it easy to plan your railing and get everything you need in one single order.

Shop AFCO Flat Top

Best Horizontal Metal Deck Railing

Most metal deck railings put slight twists on the same look, with horizontal rails and thinner vertical balusters. But you can get a unique look with a horizontal system that turns the thin balusters to run from left to right. Here's our favorite option in this category:

Best Horizontal Look: Trex Signature Rod Rail

What We Love About It:

  • Unique, sweeping look that stands out compared to traditional deck railing
  • Color options include high-contrast platinum rails (pictured below)
  • Opens up a wider deck view with thinner rods
The unique look of Trex Signature Rod Rail, a metal railing with horizontal bars instead of vertical balusters

Once again, it's outdoor living giant Trex topping the list. Trex's Signature Aluminum system has an option called Trex Signature Rod Rail that delivers a stunning horizontal railing look.

The horizontal bars give your deck a more sweeping view of the landscape beyond. The style is a bit of a mashup between the modern metal material and the more rustic ranch look, and this melding of opposites makes the railing versatile and timeless, at home in almost any setting.

Plus, the Trex Signature Rod Rail system features some unique color options, including a high-contrast version that puts platinum white infill inside of sleek black posts and rails, as shown above. The look is dynamite, and really hits the contrast-heavy modern farmhouse look that's wildly popular in interior design right now.

Shop Trex Rod Rail

Other Unique Metal Deck Railing Looks To Consider

If you're looking to stand out from the neighborhood, there are a few more unique looks you can pair with typical metal rails and posts. Here are our experts top recommendations:

Distinctive Mesh Panels: Trex Signature Mesh Railing

What We Love About It:

  • Distinctive, on-trend modern farmhouse appeal
  • Opens up your deck view
  • The proven low-maintenance quality of the Trex brand name
The modern farmhouse-adjacent look of Trex Signature Mesh deck railing

In contrast to the traditional Trex Signature baluster railing and the horizontal Trex Signature Rod Rail stands Trex Signature Mesh , a railing system that pairs the smooth, modern Signature top rail with distinctive mesh panels for an ultra-stylish modern farmhouse look.

The mesh panels are sturdy and weather-resistant, made from grade 316 stainless steel. And they fit easily into specialized top and bottom rails with channels designed specifically for the mesh infill.

Shop Trex Mesh

Luxurious Glass Panels: Trex Signature Glass Railing

What We Love About It:

  • The most luxurious deck railing look
  • Stellar views from any deck
  • The proven low-maintenance quality of the Trex brand name
The luxe appeal of Trex Signature Glass Railing featuring full glass panels between aluminum posts and rails

For a more luxurious look, try the Trex Signature system with full tempered glass panels. Trex Signature Glass Railing is ideal for your view while making your deck space feel bigger and more expansive.

Trex makes the rail kits easy to shop, with grooves designed to perfectly fit 1/4-inch thick glass panels. And DecksDirect offers custom-cut glass panels so you can get everything you need in one order, including tempered glass sheets designed specifically for your deck's dimensions and layout!

Shop Trex Glass

Industrial Cable Runs: Key-Link Cable Railing

What We Love About It:

  • Gorgeous, wide-open deck views, especially near water
  • Industrial charm
  • Easy to shop and plan with simple Key-Link kits
The modern, industrial look of aluminum railing with stainless steel cable runs, created by the Key-Link Horizontal Cable Railing system

There's one more style to consider. You can give your metal railing a distinctly industrial look with cable runs that replace thicker metal balusters and open up your deck view.

Key-Link's craftsman posts and rails look incredible with cable runs, and their horizontal cable railing system is designed to work without a bottom rail, giving you an even wider view of the nature beyond your deck.

The Key-Link system comes in easy-to-shop rail kits with pre-drilled posts that allow your cable runs to feed right through. That makes Key-Link a totally accessible cable railing option, even for budding DIYers.

Shop Key-Link Cable

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