In this post, we take a hard look at the regular maintenance associated with traditional wood railings, then examine an alternative that makes staining deck rails a task of the past: aluminum.
If you’re the owner of a wood deck — or even if you initially built with wood before upgrading to composite decking — you may have also opted for wood railings around your outdoor living space. If you did, you likely got a crash course in all the things wood maintenance: staining deck rails, replacing deck rails, fighting splintering, warping, and fade — the list goes on.
It makes sense that, a few years in, you might begin thinking of ways to cut down on railing maintenance costs. The first thing that comes to mind is likely the task you have to do most often: staining deck rails. What’s the best way to do it? The answer is simple: don’t.
If you’re faced with the prospect of re-staining your wood railing (or even replacing it altogether), consider instead choosing a low-maintenance, high-style alternative: aluminum railing.
Why You Should Consider Aluminum Railing Over Wood
Metal railing has been around for centuries and enjoys a rich history of craftsmanship just like wood. Artisans have been making beautiful and sturdy wrought iron railings since the 18th century — however, wrought iron, though eye-catching, is vulnerable to rust and corrosion. Luckily, once aluminum became a more common building material in the 20th century, powder-coated aluminum railing emerged as a less-costly, more durable alternative to wrought iron.
Our TimberTech® railing portfolio includes two sleek and durable aluminum options: Impression Rail Express® and Impression Rail™. (If you need to familiarize yourself with the components of a railing system before jumping into the specific advantages of TimberTech aluminum railing, read more here.)
Some of the benefits to TimberTech aluminum railings include:
- Protection from corrosion, fading, or warping thanks to a powder coating over the metal.
- Incredible durability and moisture resistance; won’t rot or deteriorate and resists fading, staining, and scratching.
- Clear sightlines via streamlined and timeless profiles.
- Safety and stability thanks to strong, rattle-free balusters.
- Easy installation, with no special tools required and options for a thoughtfully designed and thoroughly tested panelized system with Impression Rail Express.
Wood railings just can’t compare to the low-maintenance and cost-saving benefits of aluminum. Still not convinced? Let’s look at how costs compare when it comes to staining deck rails.
Comparing the Need for Staining Deck Rails: Wood vs. Aluminum
Just as with traditional wood deck boards, wood railings will require staining about every two to three years. TimberTech railings, on the other hand, are backed by a 25-Year Limited Warranty for residential applications — meaning you’ll go more than two decades longer without having to worry about maintenance. But frequency of maintenance isn’t your only issue with wood railings.
Other concerns that come with staining wood rails include:
- Accumulated costs: Factors like labor (paying for a contractor vs. the time and money spent if you DIY), supplies, extent of surface area needing stained, etc. will all influence the price tag.
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in deck and railing stains: VOCs emit harmful chemicals into the atmosphere.
- Chemical runoff: As the elements interact with your wood railing, the stain will slowly mix with water runoff and leech into the soil.
What’s more, you’ll inevitably run into replacement costs as the owner of wood railing (remember, moisture always gets into wood, so your wood railing will only stay safe and sturdy for so long).
How to Choose Your Aluminum Railing
With TimberTech, you can choose between two attractive aluminum options that make staining deck rails a thing of the past: Impression Rail Express and Impression Rail. Both are crafted from powder-coated aluminum for enduring beauty, but each differs in terms of aesthetics and installation.
Impression Rail Express®
Our value option, Impression Rail Express is a streamlined, aluminum railing with completely hidden fasteners and a panelized (or pre-routed and pre-assembled) balusters for easy installation and saving on labor costs. Impression Rail Express is offered in three color options (Black, White, and Dark Bronze) and five infill options.
Our minimalist Impression Rail captures the look and feel of vintage and industrial-chic perimeters. Like all our metal railing products, it won’t fade, peel, chip, or warp. Impression Rail is offered in two color options (Black and Bronze) and two infill options (Black aluminum balusters or Bronze aluminum balusters).