If you own a wood deck — or if you initially built with wood before upgrading to composite decking — you probably have wood railings surrounding your deck perimeter. If so, you’re most likely familiar with the tedious maintenance required by wood: staining, sanding, and regular rail replacement in addition to fighting splintering, warping, and color fade — the list goes on.
It makes sense, then, that after a few years of tiresome upkeep, you might be thinking of ways to cut down on railing maintenance and the costs associated with it. So, what’s the best way to stain deck rails? The answer is simple: You don’t.
Consider instead a low-maintenance, high-style alternative like composite or aluminum railing.
Applying stain to your wood deck rails is no easy task and comes with several drawbacks. Not only is it a labor-intensive process, but you’ll also spend a significant amount of money long-term staining deck rails. Plus, the harsh chemicals found in some deck stain can seep into your yard during the application process and cause harm to your plants, pets, and outdoor wildlife.
Cost & Labor
The upfront cost to build a deck with railings shouldn’t be the only cost you consider. Long-term maintenance costs can eat up a significant portion of your budget — including budget you didn’t know you needed to allot over the lifespan of your deck.
Depending on how much railing you have and its design, you’ll need to buy more than a few gallons of wood stain every year. You’ll also need application tools such as a paint brush, roller, or a sprayer — the costs of which can add up quickly.
And once you have everything you need? Then the real work begins.
There are a number of steps you must take before, during, and after staining deck rails to ensure the job is done right:
- Inspect your rails for signs of damage such as splintering, cracking, mold, or rot.
- Repair or replace any damaged rails.
- Sand any cracks or rough edges.
- Clean your deck rails thoroughly to remove mold and mildew (this often involves using a power washer and/or harsh chemical cleaners).
- Protect your deck and the surrounding area with a drop cloth.
- Wear protective coverings for your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Use a deck stain sprayer in a top-down motion to create a light first layer.
- Continue the top-down spray motion until you have several layers of deck stain on your wood rails.
- Use a paintbrush to catch any drips or even out any areas before the stain dries.
BEFORE STAINING DECK RAILS
DURING DECK RAIL STAINING
Just like you would when staining a deck, you should:
AFTER DECK RAIL STAINING
Over time, wood will inevitably fade and deteriorate — even with regular maintenance. Why? Because wood is an organic material, so it’s highly vulnerable to moisture and weathering. UV rays, rain, wind, and snow all wreak havoc on your wood deck rails — whether you use pressure-treated lumber or premium hardwoods like Ipe — causing them to eventually fade, crack, and warp.
Along with the harsh chemicals used to clean your deck, many wood deck stains release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the environment. These chemicals can be harmful to you, your family, and any plants or wildlife you have around your deck. If you want a healthy home, repeatedly staining deck rails is not a sustainable option.
Why You Should Choose TimberTech® Railing Over Wood
Picking TimberTech® composite or aluminum railing means you’ll have a perpetually beautiful outdoor space that’s engineered to last longer than wood. Since TimberTech railings are low in maintenance and high in value, you’ll be able to enjoy your deck without worrying about staining deck rails ever again.
Benefits of TimberTech Aluminum & Composite Railing
✓ No warping or rotting.
✓ Incredible durability and weather resistance; which means it’s resistant to the elements, staining, and scratching.
✓ Both types of railing offer multiple top rail profiles and numerous customization options to suit your unique style.
How to Choose: Composite or Aluminum Railing?
When its time to replace your wood railing, you’ll find you have several options. Two primary materials are composite railing or aluminum railing.
Composite railing systems are those with a composite bottom rail and often (but not always) a composite top rail. They may feature a mix of materials chosen for their other railing system components
Aluminum railing systems are those with an aluminum bottom rail and often (but not always) aluminum top rail. They may feature a mix of materials chosen for their other railing system components.
Both types of railing are low-maintenance and offer enduring beauty, but their differences come in how they’re designed, how they’re used, and how they’re installed.
Reasons to Choose Composite Railing
Similar to TimberTech composite deck boards, composite railing has the look and feel of real wood with none of the drawbacks. Fret no more about mold or rot when you choose from our composite top rails:
Add a touch of sophistication to your deck design with the elegantly curved profile of the Premier Rail.
Rest your favorite beverage easily on our composite Drink Rail while enjoying the sleek profile it adds to your deck.
RadianceRail® adds classic beauty to your deck with a contemporary twist thanks to its simple, gently contoured design.
Reasons to Choose Aluminum Railing
If you want a modern outdoor space, aluminum rail is an excellent way to get the crisp sightlines you’re looking for in a deck railing. Choose from contemporary or classic top rail designs to find the right style for your deck:
Impression Rail Express® Classic Top Rail
Enhance the look and feel of your deck with the classic wrought-iron-inspired design of the Impression Rail Express® Classic Top Rail.
Impression Rail Express® Drink Rail
Similar to the composite Drink Rail, the Impression Rail Express® Drink Rail gives you sleek, linear lines with an even narrower profile for crisp, clear sightlines.
Impression Rail Express® Modern Top Rail
Give your deck the contemporary look you want with the minimalist-inspired design of the Impression Rail Express® Modern Top Rail.
No deck is complete without a little ambience. Once you choose your railing profile, consider lighting built into your railing design for added visibility and atmosphere to your deck perimeter.
Forget Staining Deck Rails: Upgrade to TimberTech Railing
Avoid the stress, cost, and hassle of staining deck rails when you upgrade to a composite or aluminum rail from TimberTech. Download our TimberTech Railing Guide to explore all your options to find the right design and color for your outdoor space. Then, connect with a contractor to make your outdoor ideal, real.