When we imagine a deck, it almost always has railing around the edge. There are aesthetic, as well as, practical and safety applications for railing around a deck. But, there are times when a rail is not necessary!
The first place to look or ask is your local building codes. Your contractor should be well-versed in these and provide you with what is up to code or not. The biggest thing to consider if you want to have a deck without railing is the height off of the ground. Obviously, if your deck is off of the second level of your home, a rail is necessary for safety but if your deck rests on your backyard, on ground level, then safety is not as much of a concern. Although, if you have small children, you may want to consider adding rails or other obstacles to keep them from coming to harm.
Some people think that a deck without railing looks incomplete. One way to make sure your deck will look great from all angles is to add fascia boards or skirting around the edges of your deck. Fascia refers to a band or ribbon deck material that borders the deck below its surface line. It’s like the fascia installed beneath your home’s roof, but serving a different purpose. It is usually constructed of 1-by-8 or 1-by-10 boards. It conceals the joists under your deck from view and creates a polished, finished look. It can also add visual contrast if you use a different paint, stain, or composite color than the deck itself.
Other ideas to add visual interest and a “finished” look are to add perimeter stairs – these are stairs that follow the entire perimeter of your deck. You have exit points to your yard around your full deck!
A pergola or other covering can also help complete the look of your deck.
Any and all of these can be combined with full or partial railing – the options are endless! Make sure to find options that work with the style and design of your home but also work for your family. The goal is to bring your life outdoors for maximum enjoyment!
(photo credits: Green Bay Decking)