For decks that are elevated more than a few feet above the ground, railings are essential safety features. They are also one of the more prominent elements in a deck plan and lend themselves to custom treatments and ideas that can enhance the entire design.
Although the familiar crib-style railing has great appeal for its basic, simple lines and straightforward construction, it can take on custom effects with a few variations. Narrow tubular piping can replace the stringers between posts, for example, or the balusters (the vertical portions of the rail) can stop short of their usual height, leaving an opening below the topmost horizontal railing, or cap, to provide more open views when seated.
If unobstructed views are the primary goal, the railing design can incorporate plexiglass inserts, stainless steel cable, or wire mesh screening (welded fabric) -- all safe, contemporary alternatives to traditional railings. If more privacy or less street noise is required, the railing can take the form of a solid half-wall or low lattice fence, perhaps topped with planters. With a little planning and imagination, the choices are endless.