Deck Railing Style Guide

Fortress Horizontal Cable Railing in Black with modern deck furniture on a grey deck

Deck Railing Styles and Materials

Over the past ten years, deck railing design options have exploded. Decks used to be limited to a small, rectangular area off of your home that was constrained in space and crafted completely from the common lumber of your region.

Now one of the most beautiful things about building a deck is that it can become absolutely anything you want. Decks are now a complete outdoor living area and extension of your home. From a backyard beach bungalow to a fully functioning outdoor kitchen, decks, patios, and pergolas have opened up the possibilities of how you can make the most of your space and craft it as your own.

As the deck world has expanded, so have design options. Decking, railing, and hardware, mixing color palettes and designs - it can feel overwhelming to start researching what fits your space best.

Luckily, here at DecksDirect, finding the railing and color finish to perfectly complement your home is something we think about every day. From the materials that would work best in your area, to the rail profile that will set your house apart as the star of the neighborhood, we know the details that can make or break a home’s appearance and we aim to help you make the best decisions.

Whether you’re starting from scratch with new construction, or breathing new life into an older outdoor space, here’s a railing style guide that will help you select the perfect railing system for your home and gain a complete space you’ll wish you added years ago.

If you have any questions along the way, don’t hesitate to give one of our experienced deck designers a call at or send us an email at With the largest selection of premium deck products in the country, we know the products, brands, and styles that can take your deck to the next level.

DecksDirect: helping people build better decks.


Different Railing Materials/Types

Fortress Fe26 Iron Panel Railing System installed with Collar Brackets and Flat Pyramid Post Caps - Black Sand

Metal Railing

Lightweight, durable, and versatile, powder-coated metal railing is rust and corrosion-resistant making it nearly maintenance-free for the life of your deck. There are a ton of steel and aluminum railing lines with different looks, designs, colors, and sizes. You can choose from top manufacturers like AFCO, Deckorators, Westbury, Fortress and more.

A 2nd-story deck made of IPE overlooks the water and a children's playset with an uninterrupted view thanks to Feeney CableRail

Cable Railing

Crafted from grade 316 stainless steel, cable railing is a modern, low-profile railing choice for heightened backyard views. A wide variety of post sizes, rail profiles, and hardware allows you to create a railing system that perfectly complements your home aesthetic. Choose a horizontal or vertical cable system from top manufacturers including Feeney, Skyline, Key-Link, and more.

Poolside deck with Trex Transcend Composite Railing featuring Fire Pit top and bottom rails, Classic White Post Sleeves and Flat Pyramid LED Post Cap Lights, and black round aluminum balusters

Composite Railing

Traditional deck railing looks with modern low-maintenance appeal: Composite railing is a contemporary solution for homeowners seeking a wood railing system without constant maintenance and upkeep. Blending wood fibers, recycled materials and extruded with a PVC shell, composite railings are stain, rot, and pest resistant for a long-lasting look. Top composite railing brands include Deckorators, TimberTech, Trex, and Durables.

Hot tub on deck overlooking water through Century Scenic Glass Railing System in black

Glass Railing

For clear, open views and a contemporary railing that lets nature shine, glass railing options can keep your vista complete while protecting family, friends, and pets. Choose from full-panel glass systems or a breezy glass baluster look to connect your deck with nature while impressing guests. Railing brands like InvisiRail, Century Scenic, Deckorators, Fortress and more are available to craft your style.

Durables Harrington t-top vinyl rail with square vinyl balusters is installed on a backyard deck and stairway in white finish with New England Post Caps

Vinyl Railing

Lightweight, low-maintenance and classic, vinyl railing has evolved in the past several years to include an abundance of new designs, colors, and sizes to perfectly accent your home. From turned balusters to mid-rail options, vinyl railing can do it all and keep costs minimal. DecksDirect offers a ton of options from leading creators such as Durables and Illusions to find the details that work for you.

Vista's curved metal baluster with wood rail kit is installed on a wood deck on a wooded backyard during mid-day.

Wood Deck Railing Kits

For some styles of homes, the best option is the most classic. Traditional wood railings remain a popular railing option still today due to its timeless and elegant look. However, the annual upkeep of staining or painting a wood railing, on top of the higher damage potential, has led many homeowners to choose Wood Deck Railing Kits. These kits successfully combine the organic beauty of wood posts and rails with the reliability of aluminum balusters. Explore the possibilities with Vista Wood Deck Railing Kits or the rustic farmhouse appeal of Wild Hog Panels, which look like a classic hog wire fence.


Matching Your House Style with Your Deck Railing

The Craftsman Home

The Craftsman Home

Easily one of the most popular designs in America, The Craftsman style of home was created in response to the mass-produced goods and buildings that emerged after the Industrial Revolution They began appearing in the last years of the 19th century and remained popular well into the 1930s and beyond.

The Craftsman architectural movement wanted to emphasize hand-crafted goods and ideas and return a true value to the idea of human labor and imagination. Focusing on simplicity in its form, the use of local materials and reliable construction, the Craftsman style aimed to return to uniquely crafted and decorated surfaces that express creativity.

Common Features of Craftsman Homes

  • → Natural materials such as brick, wood, and mixed stone
  • → Low, pitched roofs with exposed beams or rafters
  • → Wide front porches
  • → Overhanging window eaves

What Deck Railing Works for this Home

Overlooking a landscape with trees and flowers, a deck is outfitted with Textured Black AFCO Aluminum Railing with square balusters and 4

Metal Railing

An impeccable choice for a Craftsman style home would be an elegant metal railing. Available in a wide variety of colors, most metal railing systems tend to focus on simplicity, which will be a great addition to a home that’s visually busy like a Craftsman. Metal railing systems can also be installed between existing stone columns, a key detail of Craftsman homes, for a clean look between eye-catching areas.

AFCO Pro would be a wonderful selection, for example, as it features an uncomplicated post and baluster design. The top rail, however, has a graspable bread loaf shape which would be a nice detail to the handcrafted pieces of a Craftsman.

Wraparound porch with Deckorators CXT Pro Composite Railing in white featuring Colonial Style Top Rail installed between square columns with square composite balusters

Composite Railing

Another great railing selection for a Craftsman style home would be a durable composite system. Composite railing systems generally feature post sleeves that are a bit wider, which would be a nice stylistic tie to the exposed beams and rafters of Craftsman style homes. Composite railing systems also allow a lot of freedom of choice, allowing the homeowner to decide what looks best with their home’s aesthetic.

The Deckorators CXT system would be an especially nice composite railing choice as it maintains a slimmer top rail profile. This would help to enhance the look of your Craftsman home without overpowering. Several styles and colors of balusters are also available to keep your look unique.

Ranch Style Home

The Ranch Home

Originating in rural areas of the Southwest and Western regions of America during the second half of the 20th century, Ranch style of homes can now be found in every neighborhood of the US today. Generally built for soldiers returning home from the war, this style blended modern architecture ideas with stylings from the American Western era to create an informal and casual living space.

While this structural design was started to accommodate the booming middle-class in the post-war era, it gained new interest decades later in the 1980s and 1990s. A younger generation was increasingly wanting to build this type of home, however, with more contemporary features. Varying rooflines, sunken living rooms, and cathedral ceilings have made this style of home become more popular than ever before throughout the nation.

Common Features of Ranch Homes

  • → Single story layout
  • → Long, low-pitch roofline
  • → Attached garage
  • → Simple floor plans
  • → Wide window eaves

What Deck Railing Works for this Home

a composite deck with Fortress AL13 Metal railing and bright deck funiture

Metal Railing

The low-key profile of Ranch style homes means you’ll also want to keep your deck or patio railing simple as well. Ranch style homeowners will want to look for a railing line that is slim and almost fades from view when installed.

Fortress AL13 Home would be an amazing choice to accentuate this style of home. This line is crafted from powder-coated aluminum and arrives at your door in pre-welded panels for a simple install. With thin 5/8-inch wide balusters, this railing becomes virtually invisible once installed. This railing line also features decorative round or flat Accent Top Rails which can help create over-the-post looks which would highlight the length and space of this style home.

A Skyline Railing display featuring black fine texture top rail, posts, and intermediate picket is shown in front of a pallet wall


A bolder choice to highlight the architecture of a Ranch style home would be to install a horizontal cable railing system. By emphasizing the long, flat lines of the home it would help the home appear larger in size, while the thin cables wouldn’t block any views or overpower the home.

Skyline Cable Railing could be a great choice as they seek to keep their railing profile minimal to help maximize their view potential. With thin 2-½ inch wide posts, nothing in this railing system could overwhelm the look of a Ranch home.

Tudor Style Home

The Tudor Home

Emerging late in the 19th century, around the same period as that of the Craftsman style, the Tudor architectural movement also rejected mass-production of goods and drew on simple designs. Reminiscent of cozy European cottages, the Tudor Revival style of home was a popular choice in the colder Northeast and Midwest regions of the United States up until the late 1930s.

The Tudor model resurfaced as a popular style again throughout the 1970s and 1980s as residential aimed to be more minimalistic yet large and unique. With elaborate layouts, a solid stone and masonry foundation, and a mix of neutral browns, reds and white tones, the Tudor style delivers an old-world charm with great appeal.

Common Features of Tudor Homes

  • → Decorative half-timbering in either vertical or diagonal directions with stucco or stone between
  • → Tall, narrow windows
  • → Steeply pitched roof, often with multiple overlapping
  • → Stone chimney

What Deck Railing Works for this Home

Waterside deck with Trex Transcend white post sleeves, Rails in Vintage Lantern, and classic black aluminum round balusters

Composite Railing

A composite railing line would be the best possible choice for an intricately detailed home such as Tudor. Composite railing systems can be as decorative or as minimal as the buyer prefers and with innumerable styles and colors, complementing a Tudor style would be effortless.

Trex Transcend would be an excellent choice for completing the look of a Tudor style home. Seven different finishes all with warm, rich tones, multiple baluster shapes, and a substantial top rail profile - this railing line was made to install on a Tudor.

Westbury Riviera C30 Stair and Level Rail Section. Features Westbury 2 inch Post and Post Skirts.

Metal Railing

If a composite railing doesn’t suit your fancy, a metal railing system that has a bit of detail to it would be your next best bet. With a wide variety of powder-coat finishes and top rail profiles, selecting a system that gives a nice detail won’t be difficult.

Westbury Riviera is a recommended railing system to look at for Tudor-style homeowners. The Riviera is available in six different profiles, all with a mid-rail design that allows for creative expression and visual interest. Selecting a Weathered Brown or a Bronze Fine Texture finish would also help emphasize the half-timbering detail on the home.

Modern Style Home

The Modern Home

First appearing on the American landscape in the mid 20th century, Modern homes are distinctly recognizable for their clean lines and minimalistic design. Drawing from a wide range of architectural influences from around the world, modern or contemporary style homes tend to blend a variety of building materials together to create a completely singular building.

Generally, contemporary homes focus on creating a connection to the nature surrounding it as well as sustainability. With this architectural style, homeowners are able to pick and choose the characteristics they love for a truly individualistic home. Featuring austere lines and little to no ornate decoration, modern homes create a one-of-a-kind space that is facing forward to the future of architectural style.

Common Features of Modern Homes

  • → Flat or low-slope roofs
  • → Large, horizontal windows
  • → Blending of mixed materials on the exterior
  • → Open floor plans
  • → Either a monochromatic color scheme or a color palette with distinct contrast

What Deck Railing Works for this Home

A clear, uninterrupted view from a large deck featuring InvisiRail stainless steel deck-mount posts, InvisiRail clamps, and 42

Glass Railing

Modern or contemporary style homes are often angled towards a futuristic look with plenty of transparency. A great railing option would be a full glass panel line that maximizes the view, connects more with the nature surrounding the house, and also provides a state-of-the-art feel.

InvisiRail Glass or Century Scenic Glass would be two amazing options to install on a modern style home. Both of these railing systems attach the glass panel directly to the posts eliminating the need for a top or bottom rail. This gives the glass a completely forward-leaning look while helping blend nature with the home. InvisiRail features thin, stainless steel posts for a near-invisible view, while the Century Scenic line boasts powder-coated aluminum posts that could add a dash of color.

A Black Railing with Cable Railing adorned with patio furniture and a sun umbrella

Cable Railing

Cable railing is another innovative railing option that is taking the deck building world by storm. Featuring thin, stainless steel cables the view from the home’s deck remains amazing while the materials can last for decades.

Skyline Cable or Feeney DesignRail would both make excellent cable railing choices for a modern or contemporary structure. The Skyline Cable system features a simple, rounded top rail profile so as not to draw too much attention from the home. Whereas, the Feeney DesignRail line showcases a wider, more graspable top rail that can help accent the radical look of the home.

Colonial Style Home

The Colonial Home

The American colonial architectural style began at the beginning of the 17th century as colonists started creating settlements along the Eastern seaboard. Since then, homes across the United States have been built in their image to imitate the grandeur and reflect on nostalgia of that era. Traditional and very symmetrical, Colonial and Colonial Revival style homes are typically rectangular or square-shaped with evenly spaced sections.

Generally consisting of a straightforward two-story building, Colonial style dwellings will often feature a small, covered porch, at the entryway supported by columns or pilasters. Building materials typically consist of stone, brick, or classic clapboard siding, however, these materials are rarely blended together instead used singularly. Due to its incredibly simple style, many Colonial homes have added colored double-sided shutters to give a touch of detail.

Common Features of Colonial Homes

  • → Evenly spaced windows with shutters
  • → Multi-pane windows arranged symmetrically
  • → Symmetrical dormer window
  • → Grand entryway supported by columns, or portico
  • → One to several large brick chimneys

What Deck Railing Works for this Home

A clear, uninterrupted view from a large deck featuring InvisiRail stainless steel deck-mount posts, InvisiRail clamps, and 42Durables Ashington Vinyl Railing in white on front porch surrounded by flowers and blue chairs

Vinyl Railing

A classic way to finish off a Colonial style home would be with a substantial vinyl railing system. Complement the often-white details of colonial homes with a coordinating white vinyl system and substantial white columns to complete the aesthetic.

Durables Vinyl with Columns is a magnificent choice for Colonial style homeowners who know the railing material they want but still want to browse through different styles. With a range of different designs available including colonial balusters and T-style top rail profiles, choosing an accessory for your home couldn’t be more fun.

A shady composite deck overlooks the water, with the view uninterrupted by Deckorators CXT Contemporary Composite Railing, Glass Balusters, and solar post cap lights

Glass Railing

If a vinyl railing system isn’t what you’re looking for, a low-profile glass railing system can help complete the look of your home. While full panel glass systems may be too overpowering with the detail on your home, glass balusters could be a tone-downed approach that looks amazing.

Deckorators CXT & Glass Balusters provide the thick, powerful style of composite railing lines with the softer look of glass balusters. These glass balusters will help to highlight the numerous windows colonial homes feature while also allowing the breeze to float through, unlike glass panels. Glass balusters also offer a good solution for stair railing sections, which are tricky to complete with full glass panels.

Cape Cod Style Home

The Cape Cod Home

Originating in the New England region of the United States in the mid-17th century, the Cape Cod architectural style had a huge revival period from the 1930s to 1950s. Typically an uncomplicated design, a Cape Cod structure is typically a single story cottage with an open upper floor. The homes were crafted this way as the harsh winter climate in Northeastern America proved difficult to fight against therefore leading to low ceilinged rooms that conserve heat centered a large chimney.

Constructed from local materials such as cedar, oak, and pine, Cape Cod style homes generally feature a clapboard or shingle siding. Roofs are generally steep-pitched and gabled to keep snow from accumulating during long winters. Symmetrical dormer windows are often featured to bring the warmth of natural light into the upper-level attic. Uniform window shutters are a common detail as well, as to hold back the rough, winter winds.

Common Features of Cape Cod Homes

  • → Steep, gabled roofs
  • → Wide, central chimneys
  • → Symmetrical shuttered windows
  • → Clapboard or shingle exterior siding
  • → One story size with ample attic space

What Deck Railing Works for this Home

Durables premium Westport vinyl railing with standard top rail and colonial style balusters is installed on a front porch and stairway, featuring 4

Vinyl Railing with Columns

A classic touch of detail to complete a Cape Cod style of home would be a solid vinyl railing system complete with columns as needed. Endless style choices are available within the vinyl railing lines to finish the look you want. Columns will be a strong detail that falls in line with the design of a Cape Cod while protecting the structure.

Durables Vinyl with AFCO Columns is an impressive way to accommodate nearly any Cape Cod style of home. With various top rail and baluster designs and several different finishes available, homeowners can help their space look as grand or as minimal as they like.

A backyard deck with Westbury Tuscany Aluminum Railing in Black Fine Texture built by PHI Decks

Metal Railing with Columns

A metal railing system could add an understated look to Cape Cod home’s outdoor space. For those homeowners who seek simplicity in their designs, an elegant metal railing could do just that. Columns will be a strong structural detail that looks as great as the strength it delivers.

Westbury Tuscany with AFCO Columns would be a subdued way to allow the beauty and decoration of your Cape Cod style home to shine. Westbury Tuscany system is straightforward and uncomplicated to keep the outside of the home from looking too busy. While the AFCO Columns can help tie the two different looks together for a cohesive aesthetic.

Queen Anne Style Home

The Queen Anne Home

Appearing in the United States around the 1860s, the Queen Anne style, also referred to as Victorian-era style, is an impressive architectural manner. Picturesque buildings with unique and ornamental details, Queen Anne homes are often vibrantly colorful. Typically built from brick or common stone, the walls of a Queen Anne home are decorated in ways to create textured contrasts from the rest of the structure.

The roofs of a Queen Anne home are steeply pitched and asymmetrical, often gabled and featuring dormer windows. Along with these irregular roofs, turrets, decorative trim and bay windows combine to create a visually complex look. This style of home will generally feature a prominent front porch that will often curve into a wrap-around for a complete view.

Common Features of Queen Anne Homes

  • → Steeply pitched roofs
  • → Cylindrical tower-like structures
  • → Decorative wrap-around porches
  • → Varied, asymmetrical roofs
  • → Decorative brackets and posts

What Deck Railing Works for this Home

Durables Ashington t-top vinyl rail with colonial-style balusters and Federation Post Caps is installed on a dark brown deck outside of a gray house

Vinyl Railing with Columns

Hands down the best look you can add to the ornate style of a Queen Anne home would be an old-fashioned, classic look of a vinyl railing system. With a durable look and feel, their design options beautifully match the bracketry and detail of a Queen Anne. The safest way to ensure the roof above your deck stays secure would be too protect or replace them with a newer, stronger type of column.

Durables Vinyl with AFCO Columns would the dream duo for a Queen Anne style of home. Durables Vinyl offers a huge range of different railing profiles to create the outdoor look you want for your home. AFCO Columns are a safe and stunning piece to add to your home. Choose from fluted or solid designs to maximize your home’s details.