Deck Handrail Components – Handrails for decks and deck stairs vary quite a bit depending on several factors. Three primary factors are choice of materials, design aesthetics and code requirements. Wood, vinyl, composite, aluminum and steel are typically used in some combination for most hand rail designs. Glass and steel cable are also incorporated in designs that offer less obstructed views.
Regardless of materials used or desired aesthetics, most deck handrail designs utilize some combination of the following components:
Rail posts may support the deck frame and /or be bolted onto the deck framing. They provide attachment points for the cap rails and sub-rails and are the main structural support for the handrails.
Cap rails are the top horizontal component of the hand rail. They add structural stability to the rails as well as contribute to aesthetics.
Sub-rails may be used singly or in pairs. Most rail designs include a top sub-rail that attaches directly under the cap rail as well as a bottom sub-rail that attaches to the posts no more than four inches above the deck floor or stair tread nosing. Sub-rails add additional structural stability and provide a mounting surface for balusters or pickets.
Balusters, pickets and spindles are actually names of different components that serve the same function. The terms are often used interchangeably by most lay persons as well as many industry professionals. Whatever you call them, they attach to the sub-rails, or sometimes the top sub-rail and deck rim joist and provide a barrier against falling through the rail.
Alternative infills for handrail designs that require less obstructed views include, closely spaced – high tension, vertical or horizontal steel cables. Other alternatives include tempered glass or polycarbonate panels, all of which serve the same function as balusters.
Wood’s Home Maintenance service builds quality decks custom designed to meet your needs. We can also supply CAD drawings suitable for submission to the inspections dept. Let us get started on your project today!