42 Best Deck Railing Ideas and Designs for 2020 to Breathe New Life into Your Deck

Glass Panel Railing Substitute

Many people tend to think of home design as existing within the four (or more) walls of their home, but there’s a lot that we can do to update the outside of our homes to bring vitality and color and character as well. Arguably, no space exists as a better fit for this type of redesign than the outdoor deck or patio, and deck railings are often the perfect solution.

Deck & Patio Design Basics

The deck is where so many homes entertain during the warmer months of spring and summer. One problem, however, that many homeowners experience is the age, feel, and design of their deck.

In so many cases, it’s either old or outdated or perhaps was simply planned out by the previous homeowner, someone with different styles or interests than their own.

Because of this, these same homeowners don’t even end up using one of their greatest exterior assets, which is a huge shame. I mean, I absolutely love my deck!

The Deck Question…

The problem here is really a simple one: how do you update your deck with the existing structure you already have?

Sure, you can stain the wood, get new deck furniture, maybe even add a nice grill or some potted plants. But do any of these really catch the eye in the way that you want or achieve the new look you’re going for overall?

The answer to this question for most people is an unequivocal No.

With all that in mind then, what’s the solution to our deck problems? How can we ramp up our exterior design in a way that’s both satisfying and unique?

The Deck Answer!

The answer is actually very simple (and a whole lot of fun): install a new deck railing.

Once the idea is articulated, you realize just how great and easy it really is. You can legitimately breathe new life into your entire home (especially the outdoor portion) by simply putting a new deck railing up on your patio or porch.

Whether it’s open-air or closed-in, you can absolutely find a great new deck railing idea that fits your home and personal aesthetic.

Follow along below as we can go through the best deck railing ideas available right now in 2020.

The Best Deck Railing Ideas for 2020

Illuminated Mixed Material Deck Railing

Illuminated Mixed Material Deck Railing

To get the best of two material worlds — wood and metal — just use both at the same time! Some of the most stylish deck railing ideas include elements of more than one material, and this one is a great example of that. The lighted railing adds to the look, too, by giving you a brilliant way to entertain at night without overbearing or blinding floodlights.

Glass Panel Railing Substitute Deck Railing Ideas

Glass Panel Railing Substitute Deck Railing Ideas

Glass Panel Railing Substitute Deck Railing Ideas

Glass Panel Railing Substitute Deck Railing Ideas

Glass Panel Railing Substitute Deck Railing Ideas

Glass Panel Railing Substitute Deck Railing Ideas

Glass Panel Railing Substitute Deck Railing Ideas

While most decks or patios opt for traditional vertical or horizontal railing, there’s no rule saying it must be this way (unless you have HOA/neighborhood guidelines by which to abide…). To liven things up a little bit, take a page out of the upscale bathroom playbook and use glass instead. The aesthetic is beautiful and clean, and the glass provides a clear view of your backyard or pool area at the same time.

Wood Deck Railing Ideas

Wood Sill Railing

Do you have people over for drinks or barbecues a lot? If so, then you might want to consider a deck railing that has an extended sill at the top. This extra space can be a great place for setting beverages or plates of food, without the need to bring out tables that take up valuable deck space.

Aluminum “Mesh” Deck Railing Ideas

Aluminum “Mesh” Deck Railing Ideas

Aluminum “Mesh” Deck Railing Ideas

For those that have a higher elevation to their deck, there’s often more than just appearance at play. The loftiness — if you will — of these patios makes for a tricky environment from a safety perspective, especially for youngsters. These metal wire deck railing ideas can provide both a great look (in conjunction with gorgeous Ipe wood) and an ideal way to keep people and stuff on the right side of the deck railing.

Mixed Materials Wire Balustrade Deck Railing Ideas

Mixed Materials Wire Balustrade

Mixed Materials Wire Balustrade

Mixed Materials Wire Balustrade

Mixed Materials Wire Balustrade

Mixed Materials Wire Balustrade

Mixed Materials Wire Balustrade

Mixed Materials Wire Balustrade

These deck railing ideas contain beautiful, vertical wooden or metal balustrades which can be supplemented by other thinner materials for the horizontal element. This creates both thickness and height, while at the same time minimizing any potential visibility constraints across the length of your porch’s perimeter. Deck railing designs of this nature work extremely well in outdoor, wooded environments, such as cabins or lake houses.

Asymmetrical Railing Combinations

Asymmetrical Railing Combinations Whoever said you have to put a railing around your whole deck? For that matter, what design judge mandates that you can’t use two different kinds of railing on one patio or porch? The answer to both questions is absolutely nobody.

Asymmetrical Railing Combinations

In other words, you can put one railing style along a particular section of the deck and a completely different kind across another stretch. That being said, keep the material (such as wood) and color (the stain of the wood) the same or similar in both if you want to create a sense of unity. To create the sense of different spaces (or to build in some privacy), use two different varieties of material — metal wiring in one space, sheet glass in another.

Minimal Metal Deck Railing Ideas

Minimal Metal Railing

Minimal Metal Railing

Minimal Metal Railing

To emphasize the other components of your patio, opt for a deck railing that’s light, something that practically disappears into its surroundings. Thin, metal, wire railing fits all of these descriptions perfectly. It’s a natural choice for porches that already have multiple pieces that attract attention and simply want something to provide an element of structure and safety.

Modern Elevated Chic Deck Railing

Modern Elevated Chic Deck Railing

An easy way to introduce more character into your deck design is to increase the number of levels. For most people, this isn’t possible in a macroscopic sense, so instead all you need to do is lift up the railing itself onto a pedestal of sorts. To engender even more variation, use a different color for each piece of the puzzle: brown wood, black metal, gray railing mount, etc. The combination of the plinth and the difference in color will produce an all-around feeling that’s uniquely your own.

Urban Metal Railing with Stairs

Urban Metal Railing with Stairs

In a lot of urban houses or condos, space is at a premium, and that applies as much to the outside of the home as the inside, perhaps even more so. When you want to make the most of the area you have, use minimal metal railing, one plain color such as black, and, if possible, have the handrail open up onto a set of stairs to the ground floor. Not only does this look great, but it creates a more open feel without really taking up any extra space.

Silver Railings Playbook

Silver Railings Playbook

Silver metal is a classic look that has stood the test of time. Throughout generations of architects, designers, and homeowners, the appearance of lustrous metal has appealed to everyone, virtually regardless of aesthetic. It’s not hard to see why. Silver metal — whether glossy or brushed — goes with just about any furniture, plant, or another accouterment. Because of this, it can be dressed up or down easily, depending on what the occasion calls for.

Slat Board with Overhead Deck Railing

Slat Board with Overhead Deck Railing

For a beautiful earthy look, go with wooden slat boards running horizontally around the entire porch. To build an element of height as well, run beams up vertically from the handrail as well and attach another set of beams (1-3 will do the trick). This combo provides stability, anchors the space, and even gives the appearance of a roof without closing off your porch from the light of the sun or the starry night sky.

Open Concept Glass Railing

Open Concept Glass Railing

When you have a stunning view of the ocean or beach, the last thing you want is something obstructing your view. Keep visible access to your wide open vistas by opting for clear glass over wood or metal railing.

In fact, you don’t even need to include other materials to connect or ground the glass. Instead, mount the panels in a metal base and leave the rest of the “railing” open so you can see the rolling waves of the sea at all times of the day or night.

Broad Modern Deck Railing Idea

Broad Modern Deck Railing Idea

Extend the design scheme of the flooring on the porch itself up into your railing by using the same wood and stain treatment. To build in natural contrast between horizontal and vertical elements, you can simply alternate the direction of the boards. For more variance, incorporate metal railing atop the wood. About half of each material is just right to break up the visual monotony while still achieving a grand and integrated look.

Posterior Metal Deck Railing

Posterior Metal Deck Railing

While we’ve covered a very similar style (see #7 above), there’s something different about this one that we thought important to bring up. As you can see from most of the railing options here, people tend to orient their porches in the direction they will face (i.e., away from the house). But that’s not the only option.

To switch things up a bit, design your patio furniture (along with the grill, TV, etc.) with the seating up against the railing. Because it won’t be the primary focal point, minimal metal railing will do the trick with ease and simplicity. This distinctive porch design will have people raving about the remarkably unique quality of your porch time and time again.

Trendy Frosted Glass Railing

Trendy Frosted Glass Railing

There’s just something cool about frosted glass. It had a heyday in the 1980’s, but it’s coming back in a number of really interesting design solutions. One of those is in deck railings. While the rail itself will typically be made of metal, frosted glass panels can be utilized to separate the individual sections of railing. It’s fun and it can provide a great deal of privacy for your porch.

Rustic Deck Railing

Rustic Deck Railing

It seems like Pinterest (and/or Chip and Joanna Gaines) will always find a way to make rustic look like the coziest, chicest, most wonderful thing on planet earth. This is one of those deck railing designs. Here’s another instance in which wood planks used for the floorboards can also double as beams and poles for your railing posts. Stretch thin wire horizontally to provide a seamless enclosure all the way around.

Wavy Metal Railing Design

Wavy Metal Railing Design

If you really want to be different and stand out from the rest of the crowd, take a look at these curved bars. They’re whimsical and provide visual interest, and because of this you can truly paint them just about any color that you want. Go ahead! I give you complete permission to be just a little bit crazy. It’s your deck. Have fun with it.

Paddock Deck Fencing

Paddock Deck Fencing

To make a subtle nod toward rustic chic, use plain wooden beams to construct paddock-style fencing around your deck or patio. This not only looks great but its internal structure — the oblique criss-crossing of beams in an X-shaped pattern — is reminiscent of farmhouses and pastures all over rural America.

Pagoda Style Deck Frame with Metal Railing

Pagoda Style Deck Frame with Metal Railing

You might be thinking that the metal railing here itself isn’t necessarily the most unique look. Well, that’s actually the whole point because the primary focal point of this design is the wooden beams that support the roof-like structure above the deck. And since one large wooden beam extends down through the porch railing itself, it creates the appearance of a far more elaborate design. While it may appear simple, this is actually one of my own personal favorites of the bunch.

Wooden Perimeter Bench Deck

Wooden Perimeter Bench Deck

Not all railings have to be…well…railings. Here’s what I mean: you can use whatever you want to create the boundary of your patio. If you want to maximize the space and use as little deck furniture as possible, why not double down and make the entire “railing” a bench in itself? This design encourages your visitors to take a seat wherever is most comfortable, while also engendering a beautiful focal point that extends all the way around your porch.

New England Beach House Balustrade

New England Beach House Balustrade

Tall, white support beams separated by medium-brown wooden joists, a bit of metal wiring strung tightly between it all, sitting atop a beautifully stained wooden floor. If you’re instantly taken to Martha’s Vineyard, then I’m right there with you! Cape Cod boasts some immaculately designed homes, but you don’t have to live there to take advantage of their style. Put this architecture into your own deck and be instantly transported to the other side of the world — or just down the street, it’s entirely up to you.

Minimalistic Vertical Pole Railing Design

Minimalistic Vertical Pole Railing Design

To get the most out of the view from your porch, there are indeed a lot of options. One of my favorites, though, is to just go simple, simple, simple. Minimalism is all the rage in some communities, and it’s pretty easy to get on board. Take what you’re already thinking, then subtract what isn’t necessary. Here, all you need are some thin metal poles and a few very long wooden beams. Attach at intervals and voila, minimalism at its finest is all yours!

No-Fuss Modern Metal Deck Railing Ideas

No-Fuss Modern Metal Deck Railing Ideas

No-Fuss Modern Metal Deck Railing Ideas

No-Fuss Modern Metal Deck Railing Ideas

If your focus is the house and the patio itself, when it comes to finally getting around to the railing, you just want something that works and doesn’t distract. For this, all you need to do is go with plain, black, metal poles. They can be either round or squared off, depending on the aesthetic you’re looking to achieve. Either way, you’ll have succeeded in pulling off great design without pulling attention from the rest of your deck and house.

Vertical Glass Panel Deck Railing Idea

Vertical Glass Panel Deck Railing Idea

I’ve saved one of my absolute favorite deck railing ideas for last. While it won’t work on every single porch or patio out there, the ones that can find a use for this will completely blow other decks in the neighborhood out of the water. The two keys here are (1) wooden horizontal beams with moulding and (2) vertically oriented glass panels.

This particular inexpensive deck railing idea is so singular and unique that you won’t find it almost anywhere. People are often afraid to go vertical with glass, but I say that’s silly. It’s your deck, and you can do whatever you want with it. The crown moulding beams perfectly frame the glass panels, which open your patio up to a gorgeous view of your environment and surroundings.

If your space can support it and you want to be the talk of the town, go with this one. You will not regret it!

(Source: Feeney Inc)
(Source: Whidown Design)
(Source: umeken)
(Source: Nutopia, Inc.)
(Source: Ciel Property)
(Source: Vetter Denk)

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Blake Lockwood

Blake Lockwood

I'm Blake Lockwood. I'm a self-proclaimed design snob and this is MY blog. I design fabulous interiors for a living so trust me, what I say is always what goes.