Design & Planning

Deck Railing Materials: Mix It Up for a Unique Look

January 15, 2021

Mixing deck railing materials gives you plenty of options to create a custom look for your deck’s perimeter. With TimberTech® Railing, many railing components are compatible with each other, giving you countless combinations.

Before you create your unique look with different deck railing materials, it’s important to first understand:

  • What a railing system is.
  • What your railing material options are.
  • How to mix and match different deck railing materials.

Want to Explore All Your Options for Railing? Get the deck railing ideas you need with our Deck Railing Ideas Guide. READ THE GUIDE

What Is a Railing System?

Your deck railing system is more than just a handrail; all railing systems are made of several different components. With certain TimberTech railing systems, you can customize nearly all of these components in terms of color and which deck railing materials you select.

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The top rail is the uppermost piece of rail that connects to the top of the infill.

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The bottom rail is the piece that runs along bottom beneath the infill.

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The infill is what fits between the top and bottom rail, filling the inside of the rail. It can be made of glass, composite or metal balusters, or CableRail.

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The skirt is a covering that surrounds the bottom of the post.

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The post is a vertical piece that sits in between the infill and connects the top and bottom rails.

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The cap is the piece that sits on top of the post. It can sometimes include lighting.

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How to Mix & Match Different Deck Railing Materials

Mixing and matching your deck railing materials gives you the opportunity to fully express your design preferences and create a custom look that’s all your own.

We offer six railing system options that let you mix-and-match materials: The railings of the Classic Composite Series and Impression Rail Express®.

As you conceptualize your ideal railing system, you will follow these steps:

  • Choose your primary railing material.
  • Choose your top rail profile, where applicable.
  • Choose your infill.
  • Choose your post sleeves and cap.

Finally, an optional step you can take to truly set your railing apart from the rest:

  • Choose your outdoor lighting.

Step 1: Choose Your Primary Rail Material

Your Very First Step In Your Railing Journey

Choosing your key railing components.

Why? Because your preferred primary railing material determines which infills, post sleeves, and post cap options are available to you.

Choices for Deck Railing Materials: Key Railing Components

The TimberTech railing portfolio is divided between the two types of materials: aluminum and composite railing. Remember: This doesn’t mean that every component in your rail system will necessarily be made of aluminum or composite — it will depend on the railing system you choose. You can mix and match deck railing materials within certain railing systems.

While aluminum and composite are the two main materials in our portfolio, your final railing system can potentially contain elements of both — as well as unique infill options such as cable and glass.

Deck Railing Materials Aluminum

Aluminum Railing

Our powder-coated aluminum railing options provide both sturdy functionality and sleek design.

Why choose aluminum railing:

  • Safe and sturdy – Aluminum provides strong stability throughout the railing system.
  • Durability – Powder-coated aluminum resists moisture and weathering damage.
  • Compatible with composite components – Aluminum railing is compatible with some composite components, allowing you to mix and match materials for a truly unique look.
Deck Railing Materials composite deck railing

Composite Railing

Our composite railings are made of durable composite material and offer a range of looks from traditional milled wood to modern sleek lines.

Why choose composite railing:

  • Enduring beauty – Capped composite material offers premium durability that ensures your railing looks beautiful for years to come.
  • Low-maintenance – Does not require staining and sealing like traditional wood.
  • Multiple design options – Mix and match colors and materials to create a railing that reflects your personal style.  

Prefer to Think in Color?: Check out our railing options sorted by hue. Choose from black, brown/bronze, and white color families.

Step 2: Choose Your Top Rail Profile

Within the two main railing categories of aluminum and composite railing, there are several top rail profile options. When choosing a top rail, you’ll want to think about:

  • The preferred material.
  • The overall aesthetic look and feel of your outdoor living space.

Traditional

Traditional railing styles typically have the look of milled wood, with elegantly sculpted details befitting many different styles of homes.

The Classic Composite Series gives you beautifully crafted top rail designs and is a versatile option because of its universal bottom rail that makes customization, ordering, and installation easier.

Classic Composite Series: Traditional Railing

Deck Railing Materials Classic Composite Series Premier Rail
Premier Railing®

This elegantly sculpted top rail brings a high level of sophistication to your deck.

Compatibility:  All four infill options.

Deck Railing Materials Classic Composite Series RadianceRail in White
Radiance Rail®

A classic railing profile, RadianceRail® complements any home’s style.

Compatibility: All four infill options.

Deck Railing Materials Classic Composite Series Trademark Rail in White
Trademark Rail™

With a stylist profile, the Trademark Rail brings high style to your outdoor living space.

Compatibility: All four infill options.

If you prefer a big and bold railing, Reserve Rail™ may be for you, with its extra-wide and ornately sculpted top rail. For a sleeker look with no lack of elegance, consider RadianceRail Express®.

Traditional Composite Railing

Deck Railing Materials Classic Composite Series Reserve Rail in White
Reserve Rail

The largest of our railing profiles, the Reserve Rail™ offers a sense of regal sophistication and complements classically elegant homes.

Compatibility: All four infill options.

Deck Railing Materials Classic Composite Series RadianceRail Express in White
RadianceRail Express

RadianceRail Express® offers easy installation as well as an elegant look with its beautifully sculpted top rail.

Compatibility: Composite balusters or round aluminum balusters.

Modern

Modern railings embrace simple, defined shapes that suit mid-century modern and contemporary-style homes.

Classic Composite Series: Contemporary Railing

Deck Railing Materials Classic Composite Series Drink Rail in White
Drink Rail

The Drink Rail makes a bold statement and features a deck board laid on the top rail.

Compatibility: All four infill options.

Deck Railing Materials Classic Composite Series Contemporary Rail in Black
Drink Rail

The Drink Rail makes a bold statement and features a deck board laid on the top rail.

Compatibility: All four infill options.

Modern Builder Rail

Builder Rail Composite Deck Railing
Builder Rail

The Builder Rail uses a deck board as the top rail, making it the perfect match to your deck for a coordinated look.

Compatibility: Aluminum balusters and glass infill options.

Minimalist

Looking for a minimalist approach to railing? Our aluminum railing options offer a sleek look and narrow lines that keep your view unobstructed.

Impression Rail Express® offers a pre-assembled aluminum panel, where the top and bottom rails have pre-drilled holes for the balusters which makes for an easier installation.

Aluminum Railing Options

Aluminum Deck Railing Impression Rail Express in white
Impression Rail Express®

Impression Rail Express gives you two top rail options: the functional and stylish Drink Rail and the sleek aluminum Modern Rail.

Compatibility: Aluminum balusters and glass infill options.

Aluminum Deck Railing Impression Rail in black
Impression Rail™

Impression Rail is a minimalist metal railing that gives you a beautiful, durable design and keeps your backyard view unobstructed.

Compatibility: Aluminum balusters only.

Step 3: Choose Your Infill

The infill you choose contributes to your railing’s style and how well your railing integrates with your natural surroundings. Cable rail and glass, for instance, offer greater visibility than traditional balusters.

Keep in mind that not every infill option is compatible with every rail choice.

Infill Materials

aluminum baluster deck rail material choices
Aluminum Balusters

Choose from either round balusters or square.

composite baluster deck rail material choices
Composite Balusters

Composite balusters are square and come in various colors.

cable rail infill deck rail material choices
Cable Rail

The Cable Rail gives you clear sightlines and is perfect for scenic areas.

glass panel infill deck rail material choices
Glass

A glass panel offers a clean look and unobstructed visibility.  

Step 4: Choose Your Posts & Caps

Your posts and caps can either match the material and color of your top and bottom rails or contrast them. Remember that not all top and bottom rails are compatible with contrasting post materials.

White Post Sleeve for Deck Railing

Posts & Post Sleeves

  • Choose from composite post sleeves or aluminum posts.
  • Multiple color options, depending on post material chosen.
  • Mix and match with different top and bottom rails as well as infills.
White Post Cap for Deck Railing

Caps

  • Cap choice depends on rail and post sleeve chosen.
  • Multiple cap options in the Classic Composite Series.
  • Over-the-post options for a flat, continuous top rail.

Step 5: Consider Rail Lighting

Add deck lighting elements to your posts, caps, and/or under-rail for inviting ambiance and enhanced visibility.

TimberTech Post Cap Light
Post Cap Light

Post cap lights are placed either under the post, or within the island cap.  

TimberTech Accent Light
Accent Light

Accent lights can be placed along railing, whether it be in the post or between balusters.

TimberTech Under-Rail Light
Under-Rail Light

Under-rail lights are placed under the top rail and give a gentle glow to your perimeter.

Step 6: Get Deck Railing Inspiration

Whether your style is more traditional, contemporary, or something in between, mixing deck railing materials will give you the look you want. Find your inspiration from these combinations.

Traditional

Preferring symmetry and modest ornamentation, the traditionalist will lean toward a railing that complements their deck boards and home while offering a touch of elegance.

TimberTech Classic Composite Series Radiance Rail Top Rail Aluminum Balusters

A Tried and True Traditional Look

Classic Composite Series with RadianceRail top rail option in White with contrasting black square aluminum balusters offers a clean, crisp look that pairs beautifully with any TimberTech deck board.

Finish the look with composite posts in white to match the rails and post cap lights for inviting ambiance.

Modern

Characterized by sleek lines, crisp angles, and minimal ornamentation, a modern-style railing will be one that embraces simple shapes and revealing sightlines.

A Stylish Contemporary Look

A Drink Rail with Traditional Walnut coupled with a Cable Rail infill creates a chic, transparent railing and particularly complements the English Walnut deck boards from the TimberTech AZEK® Vintage Collection.

For a final touch, composite posts with over-the-post capping emphasize straight lines and right angles while accent lights add gentle warmth.

Contemporary Rail TimberTech modern deck railing

Minimalist

Minimalism champions the bare essentials of design with simple elements, clean lines, and little to no ornamentation.

Minimalist deck railing with Impression Rail Express Infill & Radiance Rail Post

A Sophisticated Minimalist Look

Impression Rail Express railing in Black with black aluminum balusters offers functional elegance while making the view the star of the show.

Finish your minimalist railing with Classic Composite Series contrasting composite posts with post cap lights to create a gentle distinction from  the industrial metal railing.

Step 7: Start Designing

Design your customized railing by following these steps on our TimberTech railing portfolio page:

  • Filter on the left-hand side for your preferred top rail material:
    1. Aluminum, or
    2. Composite
  • Choose the top rail or top rail series you want to explore (for example, Reserve Rail™, or Classic Composite Series).
  • Use the Railing Configurator tool at the bottom of the page to mix and match compatible deck railing materials.

Example: Rail Configurator for RadianceRail Express

Railing Filter for Composite Material
1.) Filter for Composite

On the railing portfolio page, set your top rail material as composite from the left-hand filter.

TimberTech Railing Configurator
2.) Choose Your Top Rail

For this example, we’ve selected RadianceRail Express in (top rail color) White.*

Railing Configurator
3.) Use the Railing Configurator

Explore the Configure portion of the page to mix and match top rail, post sleeves, and infill options.

*You can change the colors of the overall rail system in the Railing Configurator. For Step 2, just first select your top rail color.

Now that you’re brimming with inspiration and railing knowledge, explore the Outdoor Living Catalog to expertly mix and match your deck railing materials.

Want More Info on Railing?

Take a deeper dive into railing components by exploring our 2020 Outdoor Living Product Catalog.

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