Everything You Need For A Complete AFCO Pro Aluminum Deck Railing

For a quality-crafted aluminum railing with a timeless style, there's nothing quite like the AFCO Pro deck railing system. AFCO railings are American-made with enduring style and incredible structural stability.

A front deck with a bright white AFCO metal railing

The other great thing about AFCO Pro railing? It's incredibly easy to plan your project and buy exactly what you need, because everything comes in easy, complete post kits and rail kits that you can mix and match to fit the level, stair, and angled sections of your deck railing. With our simple guide, you'll be able to plan your new deck railing in no time!

Read on to learn more! For even more personalized planning help, give us a call at 1-888-824-5316.

The distinctive profile of the AFCO 300 Series Top Rail

Table of Contents

Planning Your Deck Project

The first step in planning out your deck railing is to measure your deck space. It's helpful to draw out your deck's layout, measuring and labeling the lengths of each outside edge.

Most of your deck railing sections will fall into one of two categories: level sections or angled stair sections. We'll run through a checklist below to show what you need to create each type of AFCO railing.

An AFCO Pro railing system installed on deck stairs

Traditional 90-degree corners are generally easy to plan for. Corners with irregular angles (like a 45-degree bend) will require a special set of brackets. We'll hit angled deck railing section needs in our checklist, too.

As always, we staff a team of experienced deck project planners to help you plan for all of your deck's unique features. Give us a call at 1-888-824-5316 for totally personalized project planning!

Everything You Need For An AFCO Pro Level Railing Section

An AFCO metal deck railing

The beauty of the AFCO Pro railing system is in its simplicity: you need just two different types of kits to create a level or stair railing section! One kit covers the strong vertical posts that attach the railing to your deck surface. The other kit covers the rails and balusters that go in between the posts.

An AFCO Pro Level Rail Kit comes with the beautifully-rounded top rail, plus a bottom rail, square balusters, and brackets to attach your rails to your posts.

An AFCO rail kit, including rails and balusters

AFCO Rail Kits come in two railing heights (the standard 36-inch, plus the 42-inch height required by some local building codes) and four different lengths ranging from 4 feet to 10 feet. This allows you to buy efficiently without having to cut off and waste lots of extra material to fit spaces where you need shorter railing runs.

AFCO Pro Post Kits also save you time and effort in the buying process. While some railing systems require you to buy post caps and post skirts separately, the AFCO Pro system bundles it all together in an easy post kit. You'll get a sturdy aluminum post with the cap and skirt included, plus an ACQ pad if you're installing your metal post directly onto a pressure-treated wood surface.

One kit fully covers one post, making it as easy as counting up how many posts you'll need and buying that number of post kits.

The contents of an AFCO Post Kit, including the post, post skirt, and post cap

You can see the three beautiful finish options of the AFCO Pro system above: a textured black (on the left), textured white (middle) and textured bronze (right). The base of each post is welded for a totally secure and sturdy railing structure:

The welded base plate of an AFCO Railing Post

The post skirt and post cap show the same premium powder-coated surface as the posts and rails for a completely unified look:

The AFCO post skirt
An AFCO Post Cap

Those two sets of kits will cover everything you need for a single railing section. The only additional costs are a handful of installation accessories - fasteners to attach your post to the deck surface, plus a few more small items to either speed up your installation or keep your railing lasting longer.

Everything You Need For An AFCO Pro Stair Railing Section

A section of AFCO Pro stair railing

As with the level sections, each stair section will only require two easy kits.

Once again, an AFCO Pro Stair Rail Kit includes the top rail, bottom rail, balusters, brackets, and bottom supports for a section of stair railing. The only difference between the level rail kit and the stair rail kit is that the stair rail components are made to angle downward with the slope of your deck stairs, including angled openings for your balusters.

The contents of an AFCO Stair Railing Kit

You'll also need the same post kits used in a level railing section. Each kit includes the post, cap, and skirt, all in a beautiful powder-coated finish.

Posts for AFCO Railing

One note: the bottom of your stairs will require a taller post than the rest of your railing. Make sure to choose the 44-inch post for the bottom of your stairs, or the 54-inch post if you're using 42-inch tall railings!

Accessories You Need To Install Your Railing

Along with the rail kits and post kits, there are a couple of accessories to add to your shopping list.

There are two options for mounting your posts to your deck surface, and each will require different materials.

You can fasten your posts directly into the wood beams and blocking of your deck frame. For this method, you'll need to purchase some structural screws, also called lag screws. We recommend the RSS Rugged Structural Screw from GRK Fasteners:

Structural screws or lag screws, used to fasten a deck post to a decking surface

Or, you can use AFCO's Post Mount Plate, shown below. This plate goes underneath your deck. You'll drill holes through your decking and framing, then run hex bolts through them to fasten your post to the deck frame, using the mounting plate, washers, and nuts on the bottom.

The post mount plate used to mount AFCO railing posts

Touch-up spray paint serves a couple of key purposes. First and foremost, if you need to cut down any of your railing sections or posts to fit your space (it's very likely you will), then you'll need touch-up paint to coat the cut ends, protecting them from the elements and making your railing last longer.

It's also helpful to have some spray paint on hand to cover any scrapes or scratches that happen during installation or even years down the road. It's hard to find perfect color- and texture-matching spray paint at a local hardware store, so it's a good idea to buy a can of black, bronze, or white paint made specifically to match AFCO's three finish options.

Touch-up paint to protect cut railing surfaces and repair nicks and scratches

The AFCO Installation Tool is optional, but we think it's well worth it. The tool serves as a template to make sure you drill holes in the exact right spot for a consistent and level railing.

The installation template tool for AFCO Pro Railing

The tool fits easily on AFCO's 3-inch or 4-inch posts, with clearly-marked holes for any railing section you need to install, from stair sections to level sections to angled sections.

In the grand scheme of things, the template tool is a very small expense compared to the rest of your railing project, and it'll be well worth it for the time it saves you during installation, plus the peace of mind in knowing that your railing will look great and perfectly level once you're done.

Everything You Need For An Angled Section of AFCO Pro Railing

A deck railing joint installed at a 45 degree angle

What if your railing takes a unique angle, like a 45-degree turn? Plenty of decks feature unique outlines, and fortunately, AFCO makes specialized brackets to account for this.

For standard 90-degree corners, you don't need any extra pieces. Just use the standard brackets that come with your rail kit and attach them to the adjacent side of the post, rather than the opposite side.

For other angles, you can still use the same level or stair railing kit. All you'll need is an extra set of brackets to make the angle happen.

An AFCO railing with an angled section

AFCO makes specialized brackets to create 45-degree or 22.5-degree angles. They look much like the standard brackets, but are cut to a specific angle:

Angle brackets designed to create a 45 degree angle in your deck railing

For other angles, you have two options. AFCO's custom angle brackets need to be cut down - you can cut them down yourself to the exact angle you need:

Extra brackets to connect your AFCO Railing to deck posts

Or, you can use AFCO's easy-to-use adjustable brackets, which swivel to create the exact angle you need without requiring really precise measuring or cutting on your part:

Adjustable brackets that allow you to create the angle you need for your deck railing

The adjustable brackets will work with either the larger or smaller post sizes. If you're using the 22.5-degree, 45-degree, or custom angle brackets, make sure to buy the larger 4-inch posts. Attaching the rails at an angle takes up more room on the post (as you can see below), and the larger post has space to accommodate your angled rail:

An AFCO top rail installed at a 45 degree angle

Note: if you're installing your rail at an angle like this, the AFCO Installation Template Tool is required for a precise connection between rails and posts.

Other Notes

Here are a few other things to keep in mind as your plan your AFCO Pro Aluminum deck railing:

How To Measure Your Deck For AFCO Pro Railing Sections

AFCO Pro comes in four different railing lengths, which is great - that means you don't have to over-buy long sections and cut off material to fit your shorter spaces. AFCO's 4-foot, 6-foot, 8-foot, and 10-foot sections are all "true" dimensions. That means a 10-foot rail kit features rails that are the full ten feet long. (Many other railing systems use "on-center" measurements which measure from the center of one post to the center of the next post). Keep in mind that when you actually install the railing, the posts at the end of each section will actually make the railing section longer than 10 feet.

Typically, you'll have to cut down your rails to fit your space. That's easy to do - we'll run through it below:

How To Cut An AFCO Pro Railing Section To A Smaller Size

AFCO's aluminum railings are strong and sturdy, yet easy to cut with the right tools. Use a miter saw with a metal cutting blade and you'll be able to trim down your rails to fit the perfect dimensions of your space.

When you cut your rails, you do expose some of the underlying aluminum that isn't protected by AFCO's premium powder-coating. You'll want to coat those cut ends in AFCO Touch-Up Paint to protect them from the elements.

Touch-up paint for AFCO deck railing

What If I Want To Use My Existing Wood Posts?

If your deck has wooden posts already mounted (perhaps the remnants of the old wooden railing you want to replace), you can incorporate them in your AFCO Pro system and save the time and costs of mounting new posts.

Instead of the post kits we showed above, use AFCO Post Sleeves. They're hollow aluminum post sleeves that slide over the top of your wood posts, showing off the same beautiful powder-coated finish as standard AFCO posts.

Metal post sleeves slide over your existing wood posts

Like AFCO posts, post sleeves come with the post cap and post skirt, so you don't need to buy anything else for a unified, finished look.

Shop Post Sleeves

Can I Cut Down One AFCO Railing Section Into Two Smaller Sections?

If you need two smaller railing sections, you can save on materials by buying one longer rail section and cutting it into two smaller pieces you can use in two different places on your deck. Use the same miter saw with a metal-cutting blade that we mentioned above, and coat the cut ends with touch-up paint.

A few things to keep in mind if you plan to cut a longer section down into two shorter sections:

You'll need an extra set of brackets. Each rail kit only comes with enough brackets to fit a single rail section. So if you're cutting one rail kit into two, you'll need to buy an extra set of rail brackets, as shown below:

Extra brackets to connect your AFCO Railing to deck posts

Allow for some lost length during cutting. Make sure you buy a rail long enough to fit both your sections, plus a little extra. As you cut the rail apart, you'll have to make sure the baluster holes are spaced properly from your posts - that means it's inevitable that some of the rail will have to be cut and thrown away. For example, you won't be able to buy a 4-foot section to cover two 2-foot sections - we'd recommend buying at least one extra foot. For example, buy a 6-foot rail section to cut down into two 2-1/2-foot rail sections.

Shop Bracket Kits

What If I Want A Deck Board Drink Rail?

AFCO Flat Top deck railing with a deck board installed as a drink rail

If you love the look of a flat, functional drink rail, we'd suggest AFCO's Flat Top Rail Kits, which are different than the rounded-top AFCO Pro railing we've been showing above.

The AFCO Flat Top system works very similarly to the Pro system, though, using the same post kits and only different rail kits and additional brackets (if needed). If you want to mount a deck board as a drink rail, you can buy the deck board of your choice separately. As always, you can give us a call at 1-888-824-5316 to help you create your plan!

AFCO Flat Top deck railing by itself
Shop AFCO Flat Top

Optional Upgrades:

So far, we've dealt with all the required pieces you need to complete a railing. But beyond that, there are several ways you can upgrade your AFCO Pro deck railing, either right away, or down the road once you've finished installing it.

AFCO Deck Railing Gate

You can secure your deck's stairs and entrances with an easy-install gate. AFCO makes a gate kit that fits the AFCO Pro railing perfectly.

An adjustable gate to complete an AFCO deck railing

The adjustable gate kit includes the two small posts at either side of the gate, along with two cross-brace straps like the one running diagonally in the picture above. Combine the gate kit with a regular level rail kit, plus hinges and a latch for a complete gate that will fit any opening up to 47 inches.

Shop Adjustable Gate

Deck Lighting For AFCO Pro Railing

A lighted post cap on a bronze AFCO railing

The gorgeous modern beauty of AFCO metal deck railing looks amazing with a totally modern deck lighting setup. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to add lighting to your railing itself, or to the space around your railing.

Outdoor lighting giant LMT Mercer offers a lighted post cap that's made specifically to match with AFCO Pro's three color options. You can see the bronze version above and the black version below.

Low voltage lighting is easy to wire - a transformer plugs directly into a standard wall outlet, converting your home's electricity into a low-voltage form that's safe to wire around your deck using simple plug and play wires.

A low voltage post cap for AFCO railing

In addition, you can mount lights on your deck posts, hide them under your rails, or even recess them into your decking surface. Check out all our lighting options below to make your AFCO Pro railing sparkle even late into the night.

Shop Lighting

Free Planning Help

If you need help making sure you've got everything you need to complete your deck railing project, just give our team a call. We've got a staff of experienced deck project planners available by phone to help you get everything you need in one order - no over-buying or needing to come back for a second order.

Call Us: 1-888-824-5316

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 experienced team will help you get the information, products, and tools you need for an awesome deck completely personalized to your needs!