If your deck is over a metre off the ground, it must have a railing that complies with Australian Standards. Generally, they must be at least a metre high, not have any gaps exceeding 125mm wide and not be climbable. Stainless steel cables have more stringent requirements depending on how high the deck is, so check them if that’s the look you’re after.
Instead of having your railing all timber or all metal, why not mix up the two? Sturdy horizontal rails in timber complement the deck while metal rods painted black add a different colour and texture. It’s also less of a visual barrier giving you more of the view. Make sure your metal is galvanised before painting so it won’t rust.
Another great material combination is aluminium and glass, which suits a contemporary style. The powdercoated finish on the aluminium is virtually maintenance-free and can be done in a whole range of colours. Glass is great for the railing that doesn’t seem like one as you can see straight through it. If privacy is a concern, get glass with an opaque finish.
Play with spacing
Even slight visual tricks can be enough to give your deck railings that one-of-a-kind feel. For example, create a pattern that interrupts the monotonous feel of vertical timber. Try spacing your balusters in sets of three. Space them closely together then leave a gap to the next set of three. Or, mix materials in the rail itself -- one metal piece, one wood piece -- for an update on tradition.
If your deck looks onto your neighbours, build a privacy screen into your railing. Extend a pair of posts past the railing and fill between them. Lattice is a good option. It gives you instant privacy and you can train a climbing plant over it so you’ll soon have a living screen, softening the look.
Make a statement with your railing. Use oversized timber posts for a chunky look while a two-tiered railing adds visual interest. Dress up the posts with decorative mouldings and post caps.