There are three options to weigh up when it comes to choosing balustrade materials: wood, glass, and aluminium. The material you choose should compliment your home, but you will also need to factor in cost, maintenance and the lifespan of the railing.
Wooden railings and fences
Timber is the most cost-effective material for balustrades and fencing. It’s so versatile, designers can add special detailing to handrails or create decorative slats. You can paint it, stain it, and varnish it to change its colour. Got a timber house? A wooden rail will complement your home’s existing style. Wood also never seems to go out of fashion – it’s timeless.
But, there are some cons to building a balustrade with timber. Mainly that it doesn’t tolerate weather so well. Timber is prone to rot and overtime it can crack and split. Although, it does depend on the type of wood you choose and how well you take care of it. Hardwood and composite timber are more durable than softwood, like pine. You will need to put some effort in to keep your wooden railing looking new – regularly cleaning it and staining it every year. But, should rot set in, you can easily repair and replace posts.
Glass might just be the nicest looking material for a rail. It won’t obstruct your view, it lets the light through, and glass balustrades look great on wooden homes. It’s also strong. Glass manufacturers must strengthen it for balustrade use so it can withstand pressure.
While it’s easy to clean (just use soapy water), glass does tend to show every hand print or smudge that it comes into contact with. But, perhaps one of the biggest draw backs of glass, is its price tag – it’s not cheap. So, if you have a large deck, using glass as your railing material might not be very economical.
Commercial properties like offices and universities have long used aluminium railings, but this modern material is now starting to show up in Kiwi homes. Aluminium is very lightweight, but still tough. Thanks to its powder coat layer, it lasts for a very long time and is corrosion resistant – perfect for pool fencing or seaside properties. All you have to do to take care of it is wash it down with soapy water occasionally.
Many aluminium railings come pre-manufactured, so your options are limited if you are looking for a custom design. Do note that while it’s not as pricey as glass, its more expensive than wood.