Best, cheap DIY deck railing ideas: Horizontal, wood, metal, & rustic farmhouse

Kitchen floors are a place where homeowners often spend a lot of time figuring out what works. When you’re AC suddenly stops working, that’s another place where homeowners are quick to act. 

However, making the outside of your house look nice is often underappreciated. Maybe you have planted some flowers in the back. Perhaps you’ve got some nice furniture. 

outdoor deck railing

But those smaller details have been overlooked. Turning your deck into the place where you want to be spending an evening is often not prioritized the same way the inside of the house is. 

You may have a favorite outdoor space, but it doesn’t mean that the railing looks great. 

To help you remedy the situation, we’ve combined many cheap, DIY railing ideas. We’ll cover some of the most requested ones like horizontal, wood, and metal ones. 

Some ideas are specific to rustic farmhouses. You should be able to scroll through the various options and jump to the most interesting section. 

We’ll be including ideas at various price points, but most ideas tend to lean on the cheaper side. 

Maybe your front porch is your favorite outdoor spot to open a good bottle of wine and hang out. Maybe it’s your deck. However, you still think it needs that little work, so it ends up cozy like the rest of the inside. 

We love being on the deck. It’s where so many memories are created. 

It’s especially after we bought the mosquito zapper that just made a world of difference. Living in the South has its challenges. Mosquitoes are one of them. 

mosquito zapper

Besides giving the deck a nice coat of paint and putting up a new railing, we’ve done some major updates. It took a lot of time to figure out what we wanted to get done, though. 

Check out the bug zapper if you don’t have one, and then we’ll teach you everything about DIY deck railing ideas. Our model is many times better than what we used to have! 

Make sure you get that outdoor experience your family truly deserves! Railing doesn’t need to be expensive to upgrade the experience vastly. Get your best drill out, and you’ll be well on your way to an upgraded outdoor experience. 

Front porch

Here are a bunch of deck railing ideas that are perfect for your front porch!

Cheap

A cheap way to get railing is by putting up pallets. You can do so yourself. There’s a chance you can get pallets entirely free and avoid paying for them. 

Pallet railing

Garden shops and furniture stores often have excess ones they have no use for. Their products come in shipped on pallets, and suddenly they have all this excess that’s otherwise just going to get dumped. Why not take it off their hands?

You can also ask at construction sites and hardware stores and see what they have. Even if you don’t get it for free, it’s a great way to squeeze a little bit of extra money out and still get something that looks nice at your house. 

Being creative is a plus. There are various ways that you can cut the pallets up so that they’ll fit the purpose. Your home’s exterior will look significantly better, and you can give the pallets a good coat of paint to match the rest of the house. Your house will be worth more money if there’s consistency in the design you’re putting up. 

It’s good to get pallets in the same condition, so you’re not having one part of the railing that looks worn while the other part looks brand new. 

Horizontal

Thick pieces of wood across ensures you get something that’s sturdy looking. Make sure you space the boards adequately, so you don’t accidentally get a child’s head stuck in between. Again, you can paint it in any way you see fit. 

This design will make your deck seem like an inviting place where you can spend a bunch of long summer nights. 

Interior stairs

So, it’s technically not outside. However, a lot of people were searching for this specific information. We love this gorgeous way of including the railing on the inside stairs. The sleekness of the design makes it incredible. 

inside stair railing

Metal

Metal railings on a deck have a certain vibe to them. There’s a level of robustness, but there’s also a level of class that you’re not getting from other materials. They fit great with various styles and are constructed to suit the rest of your house. 

Be sure to choose an option that matches everything else you have going on for you. You could even have it so that it has wires across, making it easy to see through. 

Outdoor stairs

You’ll also want a railing on your outdoor deck stairs. For one, it’s mandated by the IBC if there are more than four steps. When that’s the case, there needs to be at least something to hold on to on one side. It’s still good to have it on both sides with wider stairways.

Outside stairs

Wood

Western cedar is the most popular wood material for deck rails. More specifically, it’s often just referred to as “cedar.” What’s good about this material is how durable it is coupled with its beauty. 

You may have known this, but there are several US lumber-producing states. It is what helps keep cedar so affordable. You’ll find them in every state east of the Mississippi River. You can even find it in the Cascades in California. 

Trex

Trex is a popular material when it comes to the deck railing. They come with an industry-leading 25-yeara warranty and great durability. You’ll also know that they’re great for people who love walking barefoot. 

Both wood and plastic can get very hot to walk on. While Trex isn’t necessarily cold, at least it’s not quite as hot as the other two materials. Wood roaches and termites may get into a wooden deck, but they’ll leave a Trex one to itself. What’s not to love? 

Privacy

Most people love having some privacy where they live. There are some deck railings that provide more of that than others. Here’s a good example of one to consider. 

Modern

You’ll also want a modern railing outside if you live in a modern home. There are some great options for combining wood and metal for a finish that will suit any modern family’s needs. 

Modern railing

Wire

A wire railing can be either horizontal or vertical. It entirely depends on the ideas that you’re having. It won’t necessarily be the cheapest option or a DIY one, but wow, we love it. 

Rustic

Maybe it’s not the outdoor space of your main house that you wish to upgrade. Maybe it’s rather that of a cabin. Certain situations call for certain measures, and sometimes you’ve got to go rustic. 

A rustic railing could also be a great idea to finish that farmhouse feel. It won’t feel so polished, and it’ll fit right in. 

Pool

Setting up a railing around your pool deck will help people needing to get in or out. It can also be installed so that it keeps curious minds out of the area if they aren’t supposed to be there. In fact, you can get installation kits that make the task really easy. 

Then put a lock on it so that no one goes in unsupervised. 

Black

A black railing on a light cedar deck is a great idea that adds a lot of class. 

Black railing

Aluminum

When installing metal outside, you want to ensure that it’s not going to rust. We often get asked whether or not aluminum or vinyl is better. Whether you prefer one or the other is a matter of personal opinion.

However, we’re fans of both types of products. What’s great about it is also that neither of them will fade.

Rope for a Log Cabin

A rope can be used in a very attractive way to ensure everyone’s safety while grabbing the deck railing. It could even give you the impression you’re on a boat. 

White Concrete

You might be surprised to know that you could do a DIY installation of a concrete railing on your deck. It’s just an idea! A balustrade project will ensure you’re staying occupied, at least for a little while. 

White

If you’re on the water, there’s nothing more refreshing than a bright house. A white deck railing is a way to ensure everything is nice and breezy. 

Glass

Glass is a universally great material for people that want a modern look. However, it won’t be cheap. 

Unique

There are many unique ideas you can get started with. Take a look at some of these wooden options. Your imagination sets the boundaries for what you’re having installed. A master carpenter will be able to create something truly unique for you. 

Vertical

Vertical railing can come in various materials. Wood is the most common one. Start searching around, and you’ll be sure to find some unique designs. 

What to look for

Now that we’ve gone through some ideas, it’s important you get a better understanding of what to look for. You may have been overwhelmed with ideas, but some fundamental ideas still need to be covered.

Then you’re not just choosing something because you’re getting excited about the project but because it makes sense. It matches the house and your home. 

Maintenance

Maintenance is a big thing. Some people love it. Others don’t. If you’re getting a wooden deck, there will be maintenance. There are all sorts of bugs that can get at it.

That’s not the only thing that can happen. Wood will deteriorate over. It’s even more so when you’re in a harsh environment where there’s perhaps a lot of moisture that will get to the wood. 

Is the installation difficult? 

Consider whether or not you’re planning on doing the work yourself. There are certain conditions where it may be prohibitively difficult to do the installation yourself.

We acknowledge that this page is generally about DIY solutions, but you also want the right solution. If you’ve gotten so inspired by something that’s way out of your wheelhouse, leave it to the pros. They know how to get it done. 

You’re potentially spending several thousand dollars on a project, and you don’t want it to look bad either. Some of the materials are heavy, and you may not be stable on a ladder. 

Some types of materials may be easy to cut while others aren’t. You may be choosing an intricate design that requires that even the smallest detail is done properly for the entire project to turn out right. 

You can get railing kits that are plug-and-play. It’s easy, and the instructions are good. Instead, maybe you’re dealing with metal, and you have to customize pieces. Cutting metal is not nearly as easy as it is cutting wood. You may not even have the right material to cut metal, whereas you’d have it if you were cutting wood. 

Maybe you’re dedicated to finding a project you can do yourself. An à la carte solution could be an attractive solution to go with. That way, you won’t have to incur the cost of an expensive contractor. 

Environmental impact

Some types of materials are a lot more environmentally-friendly than others. Deforestation is a big issue. Have you ever heard the expression “Lungs of the world?” 

While it’s specific to a certain place in the world, trees are important. They help provide the oxygen we need, with the rainforests generating 20% of our oxygen. Our pollution levels would be higher if it weren’t for these.

Considering earth friendliness might be high on your list when choosing the material. Maybe it isn’t. If you’re choosing wood for your outdoor section, some types of wood grow significantly faster than others. It makes them more sustainable. At the same time, you can find reclaimed wood that works as well. 

Pallets are one example of this. They may be recycled in some instances, but it also might not be the case in others. It’s always great for nature when you can give old things new life. It’s possible in some cases. In others, it may not be. 

Resale value

It’s important for a buyer to be able to see themselves living in the house that they buy. You may not be able to achieve that feeling if you put up a unique railing that will detract from the overall experience. 

You should be sure not to install something so out of touch that it would keep buyers from wanting to leave the house without changing it out. 

It’s about creating that inviting outdoor space, and the deck is a part of it. The railing should add both safety and aesthetics. However, you cannot neglect thinking about whether you’ll be staying in the house in 10 years or whether you’re selling it before then.

The cost

You can’t ignore the cost of the project. It’s not worth installing an incredibly expensive railing if the rest of your house is of an entirely different budget. For one, you probably don’t want to be spending that much money.

When you start installing custom metal rails, the price adds up. 

FAQ

What is the most inexpensive deck railing?

If you’re on a budget, look into pressure-treated lumber. It’s the cheapest option you can find. deck railing

What can I use instead of a deck railing?

Cables and metal tubes are some of the ideas others have gotten. 

What is the easiest deck railing to install?

The easiest material to install is vinyl. Make sure you get a full kit ready with instructions, and you’ll have it set up in no time. 

What is the most popular deck railing?

The most popular is wood. It not only has a great price tag but also offers a bunch of versatility in terms of finishes. 

Can deck railings be horizontal?

You should make sure to look into this. It’s not always allowed.

How far apart should horizontal railings be?

The magic number is that it needs to be less than 4” apart. To be on the safe side, you can build it closer together than that.