Skip to main content

«  View All Posts

Top 5 Railing Options for Composite Decks

November 21st, 2023 | 5 min read

By Aaron King

top railing options for composite decks outdoor living space with seating area custom built michigan

When envisioning your dream deck, you likely focus on the expansive beauty, the comfortable seating, and the overall outdoor experience. However, one element that can't be overlooked is the deck railing.

The choices you make for your railing not only impact the safety of your space but also its aesthetics. With many railing options available, deciding on the right one can be a daunting task.

We bring over two decades of experience and knowledge in deck design and construction. We've worked with countless homeowners, understanding their unique needs and visions and providing expert guidance to bring those visions to life.

Our in-depth expertise in deck railings ensures that we can navigate the complexities of this vital aspect, considering not only aesthetics but also safety, longevity, and long-term maintenance. We're here to impart that knowledge, helping you make the most informed decisions when selecting the perfect railing for your composite deck.

In this article, we’ll unravel the world of deck railings to help you make an informed decision. We'll explore five railing options:

  1. Composite
  2. Wood
  3. Glass
  4. Cable
  5. Cocktail

1. Composite Railing: Eco-Friendly and Long-lasting

Composite railing is an innovative and stylish choice for enhancing outdoor space. Composed of a blend of recycled materials, such as wood fibers and plastics, composite railing offers an eco-friendly and low-maintenance alternative to traditional wood or metal options.

This material provides the durability needed to withstand harsh weather conditions, resist rot, and remain free from warping, splintering, and rust. In addition to its resilience, composite railing is available in various designs and colors, allowing homeowners to find a style that perfectly complements their deck or patio.

Here are a few composite railing options we recommend from Trex:

Trex Select Railing

trex select railing composite deck outdoor living area with stairs custom built michigan

For an entry-level option, Trex offers the Select Railing. This system features a clean white post sleeve that slides over 4x4 posts, giving it a low-maintenance exterior. The rail itself is also white and comes with black balusters (the vertical support bars between your deck’s posts).

The simplicity of this railing system is a perfect match if you already have a white vinyl privacy fence, creating a cohesive and polished look. A notable advantage is that it comes pre-assembled, minimizing the risk of installation errors.

Trex Signature Railing

trex signature railing composite deck with lawn chair custom built michigan

Trex's Signature Railing is the newest addition to their lineup and stands out with its stylish design. Crafted from powder-coated aluminum, this railing system features vertical balusters and horizontal separations, creating a cable-like look. It can also be paired with a glass component to enhance its aesthetic appeal.

It's less obtrusive, allowing for unobstructed views and making it an ideal choice, especially for waterfront decks. Whether gazing at a serene golf green or a picturesque lakefront, the Signature Rail maintains your connection with the surrounding beauty.

Trex Transcend Railing

trex transcend railing composite deck with stairs and stone facing custom built michigan

For those looking for a top-of-the-line railing option, Trex's Transcend Railing should be at the top of your list. This system offers an array of possibilities for customization. 

With 4x4 post sleeves available in various designs and color options, you can tailor the appearance of your deck to your preferences. Additionally, you can select different color balusters, square or round designs to achieve your desired look.

The Transcend/Signature hybrid option, with Transcend posts and Signature rails, provides an excellent blend of aesthetics and functionality. The result is an outstanding balance between view preservation and structural integrity.

Trex offers incredible after-market service, warranty, and longevity in the industry, ensuring that your investment will stand the test of time if installed correctly.

2. Wood Railing: Rustic Timelessness

wood railing with composite deck and stairs custom built michigan

PC: Deck Masters

For those who prefer the natural warmth and classic outdoor deck look, wood railing is a fantastic choice. Wood railings can add a splash of rustic aesthetics to your sleek composite deck or perfectly complement the traditional appearance of your wooden deck.

However, it's important to note that over time, wood railings may require more maintenance. The balusters can begin to warp, and the railing may develop a weathered appearance. To avoid these issues, consider opting for Trex or other composite railings, even when installing a wood deck.

Composite railing is still compatible with wood decking and can add a contemporary flair to your outdoor living space.

3. Cable Railing: For Genuine Panoramas

cable railing with composite deck outdoor living space custom built michigan

PC: TimberTech

Cable railing systems are a popular choice for those seeking a modern and open aesthetic for their composite deck. These railings feature horizontal cables spaced between posts, offering a contemporary look that doesn't obstruct views.

Cable railings are particularly attractive when your deck overlooks stunning landscapes, ensuring an unobstructed connection with the outdoors. However, they require more maintenance as cables can loosen or get damaged over time, so regular inspections and tightening are essential to maintain their integrity.

4. Glass Railing: Crystal Clear Style

glass railings with composite deck seating area outdoor living space custom built michigan

If your primary focus is to maximize your deck's view and create a sleek and nearly transparent design, glass railing is the way to go. These railings have gained popularity for their modern and sophisticated appearance. They consist of tempered glass panels supported by metal posts or frames.

Glass railings can be an excellent choice for homes with breathtaking natural surroundings, such as mountains, lakes, or oceanfronts, as they provide a clear and uninterrupted view of the outdoors. However, remember that glass railings will require occasional cleaning to maintain clarity and appearance. If your deck will be built near trees with heavy pollen or goldenrod, expect extra cleaning during the bloom season.

5. Cocktail Rail: The Entertainer’s Deck Accessory

cocktail railing with composite deck BBQ grill and seating area custom built michigan

For homeowners who enjoy hosting gatherings and entertaining guests on their decks, a cocktail rail can be an invaluable addition. The Transcend system offers a clever solution, allowing you to install a composite ledge on your railing.

This ledge provides a convenient space to place drinks or small decorative items. It's the perfect addition to creating a social and hospitable atmosphere on your deck, encouraging mingling and relaxation. 

Concise Considerations for Choosing Deck Railings

When choosing the right railing system for your composite deck, you should consider the specific design of your deck, your desired aesthetics, your location, your maintenance preferences, and your budget. There's no one-size-fits-all solution, as each railing type offers a unique combination of features.

Also, don't forget to explore the lighting options available for railings, as the proper lighting can significantly enhance the visual appeal of your deck, especially during evenings or nights.

Next Steps to Installing Railing to Your Composite Deck

We started this journey by recognizing the significant challenge of choosing the right deck railing for your composite deck. It's not just about safety; it's also a pivotal element in your outdoor space's aesthetics. The array of choices can be overwhelming, and the wrong decision can lead to regrets.

By delving into the various railing options, from the classic beauty of wood to the sleek, modern lines of glass and cable and even the practicality of a cocktail rail, you know how to make an informed choice. We've touched upon the unique features, maintenance requirements, and stylistic aspects of each.

At Custom Built, our 15+ years of expertise extends beyond materials. We're more than just a deck builder; we're outdoor living experts. We understand the complex dynamics of deck design, including the essential role of the right railing.

As your trusted guides, we're here to ensure you make the best decisions for your composite deck project. Our commitment to your satisfaction, safety, and the long-term beauty of your outdoor space is unwavering.

To turn your vision into a reality, the next step is to engage with us. Our team is prepared to help you navigate the complexities of deck building, from selecting the right railing to ensuring a smooth and successful project.

custom built design and remodeling deck builders michigan

Now that you know more about the top railing options to install for your composite deck, let’s explore what the first steps of Our Proven Process look like, how much a deck build costs, and how long it will take.

Aaron King

Aaron has been in the building industry his entire life. He worked in his family’s housing business growing up in Dewitt, MI, and for nearly 40 years, built homes in the Mid-Michigan area. He has also worked with the Greater Lansing Home Builder’s Association since he was 18 years old.