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Types of Railing & Balustrade For Decks

Types of Railing & Balustrade For Decks

Types of Railing & Balustrade For Decks

When it comes to choosing railing, handrail and balustrade for your deck or balcony, there are several factors you should be taking into consideration. Namely, material, style and functionality. Whichever material you choose to build your decking balustrade from should be weatherproof and waterproof: something designed for exterior use. Style mostly comes down to personal preference but can generally be categorised into three different groups: modern, heritage and coastal. Lastly, you need to ensure your building materials are designed to last. You don’t want to be ripping up your decking or balustrade in 5 years time! 

In this article we’re going to be breaking down the most popular types of railing and balustrade for decks, verandahs and other outdoor structures. All balustrade and handrails recommended in this article (when installed correctly) adhere to Australian Building Codes. If you need more information on these codes, and how to install your balustrading, see our article on Understanding Australian Handrail & Balustrade Standards.


Types of Railing & Balustrade For Decks

Timber Deck Railing 

Timber and wooden handrails have always been a popular option for decks, verandahs and balconies as there are such a wide variety of colours and profiles available. Timber handrail is also a fantastic way to add warmth into your outdoor space, or compliment your decking material. 

Whenever you use timber outdoors, it’s important to ensure that you’re using the correct wood species; as, some varieties are not suitable for external use. Pine and other softwoods for instance can only be used outdoors when they have been treated using H3 or H4 treatment (or similar) … and even then, tend to have a much shorter lifespan than more durable species such as spotted gum or blackbutt.

At Hammersmith we stock a wide variety of outdoor timber handrails, in many different species. Some of our personal favourites are spotted gum, and blackbutt due to the fact they are also frequently used in the construction of decks. This means you’re able to match your railing to your deck, which is a nice touch! 

If you’re looking for a more traditional decking profile at a lower price point, we also stock a pre-primed treated timber profile.

Stainless Steel Deck Railing 

Stainless steel handrail is a fantastic choice for anyone wanting sleek, modern balustrade option, or those who live in a coastal location. 316 grade stainless steel is the only marine grade material commonly used in the construction of balustrades and handrails, meaning it’s far more suited to seaside locations than other materials on this list.

Stainless steel handrail also comes in a variety of different shapes and sized, including round, square and rectangular profiles. While 50.8mm round tube is the most common variation, there are countless other options depending on your personal taste/preference. 

Stainless steel handrail can be paired with a range of modular handrail fittings, meaning that welding is often not required. This makes stainless steel railing a fantastic DIY solution to deck railing, especially when paired with stainless steel wire balustrade.

Related Reading: How To Pick The Right Wire Balustrade Kit For Your Project

At Hammersmith we also stock a range of ready to use stainless steel posts that can be used to construct your decking balustrade. These posts include pre-drilled options for those intending to use wire balustrade.

Galvanised Steel Deck Railing 

If you’re looking for a DIY friendly, affordable decking railing system, galvanised steel handrail might be just what you’re looking for. While some galvanised fittings cannot be used in commercial settings, our range of disability handrail fittings is designed to meet ALL Australian building standards. The wider range of galvanised fittings can also be used when installing railing domestically. 

Galvanised steel handrail can either be left raw, or powder coated to match other areas of your home. It’s also a fantastic option for temporary deck railing, as the modular system allows for easy assembly and disassembly. This makes it a great option for elderly or disabled customers looking to add functionality to their home, without adding a permanent fixture.

42mm and 48mm OD pipe are the most commonly used sizes for this purpose, however we also stock a wider range of pipe & fittings for other DIY projects around the home.

Outdoor galvanised steel railing

Popular Decking Rail & Balustrade Styles

Sleek & Modern Balustrade Options

Ultramodern handrail and balustrade options for decks tend to incorporate materials such as glass, steel and metal. Often, stainless steel handrail is paired with either glass or wire balustrade to achieve this look.

We’ve included some pictures below of what a modern balustrade traditionally looks like, and what elements are generally included. You’ll notice that many of these decking rails incorporate sharp lines and minimal colour. Timber and other warm toned materials seldom make an appearance. 


Heritage or Federation Balustrade Options

In Australia, Federation style homes are extremely common- therefore, so too are federation style porches and decks. These kinds of structures need updating from time to time, which is where our range of heritage style railing, balusters and post caps come into play. They can also be used to add character to new build homes, or extend existing decks and balustrades.

When renovating a deck on a federation or bungalow style house, traditional turned balusters and external grade ladies waist handrail are the most common choices. These are usually paired with treated timber post capitals and other heritage elements such as spindles and fretwork. 

Some other popular heritage style deck elements include turned timber verandah posts and fretwork. While these items mightn’t be used in your balustrade, they’re often sold & used together!

Coastal or Hamptons Style Balustrade Options

If you’re looking to build a coastal or hamptons style deck or porch, there are plenty of railing and balustrade options to pick from! 

Oftentimes, Hamptons style homes use similar balustrade and handrail elements to heritage/federation style homes, but with a twist! For instance, they are often painted in a light, blue or white colour scheme as opposed to the traditional red & green colours used in heritage builds.

For outdoor railing and balustrade, the most popular products are the ladies waist style handrails, turned timber balusters and flat or pyramid post capitals. These elements are also commonly seen on Queenslander style homes.

Other FAQ About Deck Railing

How to care for timber deck railing & balusters?

All timber used externally will require some level of maintenance or care, regardless of the timber species or grade. With that being said, certain types of wood (such as spotted gum, blackbutt or jarrah) require far less maintenance than others. These particular species do not require painting, and instead can be maintained with a bi yearly oil!

Conversely, treated pine products will require at least two coats of paint prior to installation ( to form an additional barrier from the elements). This is due to the fact that H3 treated products have only been treated externally, meaning that any newly exposed timber is not considered to be weather resistant. With time, timber is susceptible to cracking from sun exposure, so these additional coats of paint help prevent this the timber from cracking or splitting.

You can learn more about caring for H3 treated products in our article: What Is H3 Treatment & How To Care For H3 Treated Products.

What are the Australian building standards for installing decking rail and balustrade?

The Australian building standards for external balustrades and railing are the same as for internal installations. For instance, there are specific height and spacing standards that need to be adhered to. We’ve written a comprehensive guide to Understanding Australian Handrail & Balustrade Standards in the past, which covers everything you need to know about installing railing and balustrade!

Most popular handrail and balustrade styles

If you’re unsure which rail or balustrade style to choose for your home or new build, we’d recommend reading our article on the Top Staircase & Balustrade Trends for 2023. There, we break down the top 5 most popular trends of the year, and include photo inspiration/examples of each!

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