16 Fireplace Mantel Ideas for a Perfectly Country Living Room

16 Fireplace Mantel Ideas for a Perfectly Country Living Room

Antiques Everywhere

Looking for a place to put your favorite odds and ends? Look for inspiration in Kelley Motschenbacher’s quaint abode, where collectables are placed all over the living room. “I really like antiques because they’re often weird, nontraditional sizes that are ideal for smaller rooms,” she says.

Perfectly Pint-Sized

Jennifer Miller didn’t let her 28-inch-wide hearth dissuade her from decorating. She chose scaled-down topiaries and candlesticks to go along with an oil portrait.

A Bit of Blue Onion


Alison and Jim Luckman use their mantel to display their beautiful porcelain dishes.

A Little Lighting

A pair of metal lamps help the stunning chandelier illuminate the living room in this antique-filled farmhouse.

Color Coordinate

Danny Seo used his hearth to show off a variety of beautiful black and white pieces.

Stunning Stone

When your fireplace is this gorgeous, there’s no need to go overboard with the decor. The owners of this Wyoming home added a pair of candlesticks and one piece of artwork.

A Bit of Brick

Hal Turner, the owner of this South Carolina smokehouse, actually salvaged brick pavers from his grandparents’ old home for his fireplace. He then kept things nice and symmetrical up above with a couple of vases filled with wheat sheaves and a painting.

Bright and White

A white mantel offsets the brick fireplace in Holly Williams’s Kentucky home. Plus, it offers a blank canvas to display just about anything.

Pretty Plants

Instead of hanging plants from the ceiling, simply display them around eye-level—like Chenault James—to freshen up your home for spring.

Unveil Artwork

The farm painting perfectly pairs with the cow figurines lounging in this Texas home.

Prop a Painting

Rather than leaving it bare or filling it with fire wood, the owners of this southern sporting cabin opted to display a work of heart on the hearth.

Mortar Wash

Take a cue from the owner of this renovated California cabin and give your brick fireplace a quick makeover with a “German smear.” The fast wash treatment is an easy way to tone down and distress a bright fireplace.

In With the Old

The “art” above this fireplace is actually a gate from an old pigpen! Before this 100-year-old Texas home was remodeled, the entire structure was covered with fake rock from the 1970s and surrounded by bookshelves. The owners tore everything out to find this beautiful brick fireplace beneath all the junk.

Decorate with Found Items

This mantel and the bottles were uncovered in a barn on the property and added to this Virginian home’s rustic farmhouse style.

Rustic Wood and Antlers

The rustic mantel is made of wood from the homeowner’s grandfather’s farm, adding to her home’s cozy, welcoming feel.

Covered Deck Design Ideas

Covered Deck Design Ideas

01.How to Plan and Design an Overhead or Pergola

A well-designed deck includes built-ins and features that are added for practical purposes along with architectural elements that enhance the design and materials of the structure. The better the design, the less noticeable it is. Face the truth: it gets hot, and as gorgeously appointed as your fine hardwood deck might be, if you don’t provide shade, everybody will run for cover. A pergola or overhead structure will prolong your enjoyment and use of the deck along while adding an attractive design element.

Assess what already exists: a deck’s railings, posts, and overhead structure should echo a home’s similar architectural elements in front or other parts of the property. A well-designed cover complements your home’s style and the exterior materials used, especially any wood used elsewhere. Among types and styles of overhead structures to consider:

  • Arbor: Smaller than a pergola or gazebo, an arbor includes 2 to 4 posts with a simple slatted roof that is open. Vines can grow over an arbor or lattice can be placed on top for more of an enclosed effect.
  • Pergola: This type of overhead can be identified by having four or more posts or columns. It supports a roof that is traditionally flat, with beams left alone in one direction or topped with cross beams or slats. The pergola’s roof can be left open, covered with outdoor fabric, or support fast-growing vines.
  • Attached overhead: This can be built at the same time as the deck or added to an existing deck. It attaches to a back wall of your house and has a roof supported by sturdy posts at the edge of the deck.
  • Gazebo: More room-like than a pergola, a gazebo can be rectangular, hexagonal, or whatever shape you desire. Gazebos have posts and are more enclosed than other garden structures.
  • Roof extension: Sometimes this has already been done, other times it’s a solution when another type of overhead structure will interrupt the flow and lines of your home’s roof. Work with an architect or other building professional for this type of project; it’s definitely not a DIY endeavor.

Consult your planning commission before starting a project of this scope; you will likely need to pull permits and follow local codes.

For inspiration and ideas, enjoy this diverse, international selection of covered decks.



A Washington D.C. home has a modernist sensibility focused on the privacy of the rear yard: from the front, you’d never guess how open and modern it is in the back. It’s a covered deck that’s an extension of the interior and reflects the proportions of the master bedroom as it looks across a grassy “courtyard.” Designed by Kube Architecture, the deck is built with ipe wood and pressure-treated framing. Small, in-ground deck lights were purchased on Amazon for subtle illumination.

03.Locomotive Ranch Trailer

Following his client’s request, Austin-based Andrew Hinman Architecture incorporated this cherished 1954 Spartan Imperial Mansion house trailer onto a ranch in South Texas overlooking the Nueces River. FSC-certified ipe and Douglas fir decking frames a vintage California redwood hot tub. The roof, which overhangs the deck, is made of metal and reflects sun. The ceiling is built of Douglas fir, which buffers sound during thunderstorms and insulates the home from that Texas heat.

04.Sydney Beach Style

A slightly rustic, greyed-out hardwood deck lends this space a beach vibe that reflects the homeowners’ lifestyle in Sydney, Australia. Designed by Maria Villa of Villa+Villa Style, the wood-frame pergola features a thatch-style roof for a casual, tropical look.

05.Blackbutt Deck

A dark-stained Australian Blackbutt hardwood deck is raised above ground, to be level with the kitchen so that the homeowners can look down over the pool. Designed by Zugai Struckwick Architects of Sydney, the solar pergola allows for all-weather entertaining.

06.Mixed Materials

A farmhouse in Austria features a variety of materials and textures for an outdoor deck that overlooks green, blooming fields. Mossyrock Design Studio used timber framing for the outdoor structure, while rough-hewn stone wall frames a picturesque view.

07.Shade Sails

Extending the living space of a home in Lafayette, California, a deck designed by Studio M Merge is used for casual outdoor dining, covered by overlapping Cali Shade Sails.

08.Rich, Warm Wood

A deck with a patina blurs the transition from indoors to outdoors of this home in coastal Melbourne, Australia. The outdoor space, designed by Acre Landscape Architecture Studio, features an outdoor kitchen with indoor pass-through window covered by a framed roof extension that continues ceiling materials used inside. Architects on the project were Planned Living Architects, with construction by Powda Constructions.

Fabulous Stone Fire Pits to Spark Ideas for Your Outdoor Space

Fabulous Stone Fire Pits to Spark Ideas for Your Outdoor Space

01.Designing a Stone Fire Pit

Adding a fire feature to your outdoor space makes it a destination. Like moths to a flame, you and your guests will be drawn to a fire pit in the evening to relax, enjoy food and drinks, get warm, and enjoy one another’s company. While portable fire pits are a good choice for some situations, stone fire features are more permanent and likely to complement a home, landscape, and the surrounding terrain. For ambitious do-it-yourselfers who can follow instructions, building a fire pit shouldn’t take lots of time or cost. It can even be a good beginner’s project for an outdoor building enthusiast. If the fire pit needs to be installed on an existing patio or deck, consult a professional. Think about materials and flammability before locating a fire pit on a wood deck.

Where to Put the Pit

An obvious place for a pit is a backyard, on or adjacent to a patio, in a pea gravel area of a yard, near a pool or spa. Some custom-built pools and spas include fire and water features, but these would not be a DIY project.

With safety in mind, select a site that is a reasonable distance from your house or other buildings, away from fuel storage, supply lines, and clear of low-hanging tree or shrub branches. Also be aware of ease in entertaining: would you be more likely to use a fire pit that is near other outdoor activity zones or across the lawn at the edge of the woods?

Size of Pit

The size of the pit should be considered when scouting a location. Of course, there is no ideal size for a fire pit or its proportions. You’ll need to dig a hole that is 2 to 3 feet wider than the desired finished size.

02.Wood or Gas?


The smell of wood burning in a fireplace or pit is usually a positive association–we think of summer camp-outs, bonfires at the beach, and good times spent with loved ones during colder months. Smoke from burning wood is consists of a complex mixture of gases and fine particles, which are known as particle pollution or particulate matter, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Outdoor recreational fires are a source of fine-particle air pollution, especially in some metropolitan regions. Children and teenagers, older adults, and people with heart or lung disease–including asthma and COPD–can be especially vulnerable to the health effects of particle pollution in wood smoke.

The EPA’s Burn Wise program educates consumers about best burn practices, EPA-certified wood-burning appliances, cleaner alternatives, and other recreational fire-related issues.

If you opt to burn wood, the EPA recommends recommends taking these steps to reduce particle pollution:

  • Only burn seasoned, dry wood, which burns hotter and cleaner
  • Use a moisture meter to check firewood; moisture content is best at about 20 percent
  • Cover stacked wood, but allow good air flow so it can dry.
  • Never burn wood during air quality alert days, when air pollution is already higher
  • Never burn green wood, construction waste, plastic, garbage, or yard waste. They create more smoke and can be toxic
  • Take extra care if you live in a region where brush fires are of concern
  • Many local governments have adopted ordinances to restrict backyard recreational fires, which includes fire pits and outdoor fireplaces. Check with local authorities before choosing a wood-burning feature.

Now that you’re aware of the scope of a fire pit project and wood vs gas, it’s time to get inspired with these gorgeous fire pit designs.

03.Camp-Style Fire Pit

British garden designer Gertrude Jekyll as the inspiration for a hillside home in Seattle. The renovation, designed by Kim Rooney Landscape Architecture , includes stone walls, gravel paths, a terraced rose garden, a perennial garden, and a bluestone patio. Located in Seattle’s Magnolia district, the homeowner requested a private hideaway in the garden that could be an informal gathering space. Rooney positioned the are behind a big Japanese maple tree, about 4 feet below the main patio, yet high enough to offer a peek-a-boo view of Puget Sound. The campground style was achieved with a wood-burning steel log and Montana ledge stone fire pit on pea gravel.

Types of Stone

When shopping for stone, you’ll come across words and terms with which you might not be familiar. Some may sound like they are terms for the same stone. Words to know:

  • Ashlar: Stone that is cut into a square or rectangular shape. This is also a term for a pattern used for laying courses or layers of rectangular pieces of stone.
  • Chinkers: Stones that are small, irregular in size, and used to fill in gaps.
  • Cobblestone: Small, round stones that can be used for paving.
  • Cut Stone: Stone that has been milled or worked by hand to a specific size or shape.
  • Face: The exposed or “right” side of stone.
  • Fieldstone: Stone that appears as if it was found in its natural setting.
  • Flagstone: Stone that has been milled to a thickness of 1 to 2 inches. It is often used for patios and walkways.
  • Pavers: Stone milled to a certain size and shape, usually about the size of a brick. Pavers are often used for paths and patios.
  • Rough Stone: Stone that looks like it came from the quarry.
  • Rubble: Stone blasted on a construction site or pieces left over from a quarry. Rubble is also low-grade stone used for fill in a wall-building project.

04.Desert Modern

A fire pit designed with stones clustered in a circle is a classic and authentic look for this Palm Springs home designed by Charles DuBois for the Alexander Construction Company in 1958. Located in the popular Vista Las Palmas neighborhood, the home, called La Vie en Rose, received an updated by designer Christopher Kennedy that was respectful of its Midcentury Modern roots but gave the current owners more living space. Like the furnishings throughout the yard, the fire pit is low, simple, and considerate of the desert landscape, which includes beautiful skies and sunsets.

05.Colored Glass

A San Francisco area homeowner wanted a fire pit with plenty of seating for her home’s outdoor makeover. Black Diamond Landscape designed and built a stone fireplace with a half-circle built-in wall and seating that is made more comfortable with colorful accent pillows. Blue fire glass complements the orange pillows and upholstery.

The Popularity of Fire Glass

Colored tempered glass chips or pieces are an increasingly popular alternative to wood-for outdoor fire pits. The colored squares or rounds of tempered glass come in a variety of colors and replace gas- or wood-burning logs. Of course, the glass itself does not burn; it’s used as a filler for the fire pit. Sources of fuel for fire glass are natural gas or propane. Tempered glass can withstand heat, keeps its color, and does not emit pollutants or carbon toxins. While they are pretty to look at–lit or unlit–they don’t give off as much heat as logs from traditional wood-burning pits, nor can you roast hot dogs or cook marshmallows over those lovely amber bits of glass. In mild climate regions, glass fire features still provide some warmth.

If you decide to go the glass route, know that there are basically two types: recycled and tempered reflective glass. Each requires a different process for processing. Recycled fire glass–a more environmental choice–is made from glass bottles and window scraps. The glass from these products is melted and processed using a special type of furnace for repurposing the glass.

06.Indiana Limestone Pit

A round fire pit built with Indiana limestone is capped with pewter mist limestone that was custom cut with a rock-face edge and a honed top. Designed by Marti Neely Design and Associates the space includes a patio made of lilac bluestone.

07.RectanguXlar Pit

Constructed of granite bars set in a rectangular pattern, this wood-burning fire pit and outdoor space was designed by Ted Carter Inspired Landscapes of Portland, Maine. Most builders and stone masons describe stone according to geological type, trade names, or the sizes and shapes used in construction and landscaping. Granite is actually a trade name fo a specific type of igneous rock. For landscaping projects, granite is sold as blocks, ashlar, pavers, steps, stones, rubble, and crushed rock.

9 Stylish Covered Patio Ideas

9 Stylish Covered Patio Ideas

01.Planning a Shade Structure

A well-designed patio cover can enhance your outdoor living experience and increase the amount of time you spent outside. For any major outdoor structure, you’ll want to work with a professional, like an architect or landscape architect, to make sure your building complies with city codes and is engineered correctly. Other considerations before planning, designing and building a patio cover include:

  • Budget
  • Architectural style of your house
  • Materials you desire and what is available in your region
  • Location
  • Size and scale of patio and overhead
  • Orientation of the patio to the sun, like a hot west-oriented location or cold-northern
  • Take a look at 50 very different patio covers—certain to spark some ideas for your own project.

02.Modern in South Africa


The South African firm LevEco Architects designed an overhead with a ceiling made from IsoPine, which is a composite polystyrene material that functions well outside, provided it doesn’t get direct rain. The timber roof rafters are pocketed into the brickwork of the house, so you don’t see any connections. The roof sheeting is attached with flashing and waterproofing.

03.Moroccan Rooftop

A Moroccan-style rooftop patio in Hong Kong was designed by Alexandra Lauren. The roof is made of clear Perspex with UV resistance. The rug is from Horchow. Lauren has studios in Tennessee, Hong Kong, Arizona, and Montana.

04.Shade Cloth Patio Covers

The husband-and-wife design team known as Phoenix’s The Ranch Mine covered a house in corrugated steel and treated the concrete flooring with Cohills Enviro Stain. Shade-sail anchors were tied into the roof trusses under the eaves to support the shade sails.

05.Santa Ynez Rustic

A beautiful and eclectic eco-conscious outdoor space was created by Carson Douglas Landscape Architecture for a Santa Ynez, California ranch. Many features are custom designed, like the redwood pergola, which supports healthy, lush vines; the redwood vegetable boxes, cold-season A-frames, and metal-frame fire pit, infilled with stone to resemble a gabion. The hanging light fixture is also a CDLA creation and is available on the firm’s website.

06.Modern Farmhouse

Gast Architects of San Francisco created shade for a scored-concrete patio in Arroyo Grande, California by constructing a custom-made steel frame that supports corrugated galvanized-steel roof panels. ​The roof panels are Sinewave.

07.Tuscan Farmhouse in Houston

Designed by Eklektic Interiors of Houston, this home was built by the homeowners, who are in the construction business. The patio floor is made of reclaimed Old Chicago brick, while the facade and arches are made of Texas limestone.

08.Cedar Pergola

New York City-based Resolution: 4 Architecture constructed a stained-cedar pergola over a bluestone-paver patio for a home and pool house project in South Hampton, New York.

09.Orange County Mediterranean

A small house in Orange County, California received a makeover by Benedict August. Slate tile set in a diamond pattern is used for the exposed patio, while the covered dining space features a poured-concrete surface. The lights are older Z Gallerie chandeliers.

15 Fresh and Unique Ways to Update Your Porch and Patio

15 Fresh and Unique Ways to Update Your Porch and Patio

They say home is where the heart is, so what does that make the front porch? While you ponder that, we encourage you to get inspired and make your porch or back patio your new favorite living space. Check out these outdoor decorating ideas that epitomize the perfect functional exterior escape, especially in the warmer months. Plus, get our favorite ways to decorate your backyard on the cheap and fresh ideas for landscaping your yard.

Flower Power Porch

Country Living regular Nancy Fishelson, pictured here, has a longstanding affinity for whites and neutrals. But, to offset her upstate New York front porch, the renovation extraordinaire gives guests a warm welcome with vibrant hydrangeas and matching topiaries.

Vintage Furniture Display


There’s no rule against showing off your favorite antique pieces from the safety of the porch rather than inside the house—they are the first things guests will see, after all. Make a worn table your new outdoor serving station.

Fall Flair

It doesn’t get much cozier than this Colorado farmhouse, where lanterns, plenty of seating, symmetrical plants, and seasonal wreaths all contribute to an overall homey vibe.

Family-Friendly Hangout

One dinner-party-obsessed California couple translated their love of entertaining onto their vineyard retreat’s patio. A long dining table and string-light-adorned pergola make this the ultimate hosting hotspot.

Countryside Chic

This homeowner and mother of three wanted to call it quits on city life, and thus moved to the English countryside. With a patio this exquisite—decked out in a rose arch, box balls, and benches—the pastoral shift makes perfect sense.

Covered Porch

An old-meets-new Idaho farmhouse boasts one particularly classic design—awnings. Porch covers popped up in the 1800s to give farmers a shady spot to unwind.

Second Floor Galore

Who said anything about porches being confined to the ground level? If you’re constructing your own from scratch, consider the setup of this incredible garage-turned-weekend-home, which boasts a wraparound porch atop two sets of breezy swing doors.

Muted Patio

The best way to subtly contrast a white palette? Grey and black undertones, which this Orchard Park, New York patio implemented through seating and stone tiling.

Quaint Porch

Mossy window and door frames, along with an assortment of florals, give this cozy Washington cabin extra curb appeal in the porch department.

Pot Shed Patio

If your patio backs up to your potting shed (or she shed!), complement the outdoor nook with an assortment of galvanized pots and old French beach chairs. This California-based family also laid Calstone pavers to match the plant storage and amp up the style.

Marvelously Modern

Take a page from Diane Keaton’s book—the star’s Pinterest-worthy residence is an exposed brick-lover’s dream come true. While the outdoor area is rooted in rustic allure, black French shower doors (even on the fire pit, mind you) give this space a refreshingly contemporary nod.

All Reclaimed Everything

This Texas facade, created by two antique dealers, is about as rustic as it gets. The homeowners pulled repurposed materials, like the metal sliding and iron trim, from barn roofs and a Victorian-era farmhouse in Iowa.

Outdoor Urban Nook

City slickers, know that you can still seamlessly meld cozy and metropolitan, no matter how cramped your outdoor space is. These New Yorkers used climbing greenery, terra cotta pots, and matching rockers to turn their terrace into the ultimate cozy outdoor oasis.

Church Pew Porch

The sky’s the limit when it comes to porch seating, as evidenced by this church pew installation. We’re also loving how the statement piece ties into this monochromatic scheme.

Blue and Gray Hues

For longer porches, designate one corner as a spacious seating area. Cool-colored chairs and decor will make the section feel inviting year-round.

12 Seductively Serene Screened Porches

12 Seductively Serene Screened Porches

The porch has long been the perfect gathering place for summer evenings. While some folks may favor an open patio, an elevated deck, or a year-round sunroom, screened-in porches have a lot of allure—and nostalgia as well. Protected from the elements by a sturdy roof, screened porches allow both light and breezes to filter through their insect-proof barrier. A screened porch is great for seasonal dining and entertaining, or simply quietly relaxing and enjoying the view. Here’s a quick look at some of our favorite serene and inviting screened porches.

Rustic Porch

The floor-to-ceiling screened openings of this New Hampshire lake house porch allow guests to enjoy the scenic views while protecting them from mosquitoes and other outdoor discomforts. The wood ceilings and floors blend in with the porch’s natural setting; a patterned rug and wine-colored chairs add just the right touch of color.

Hammock Time


If you like spending a couple of lazy hours in a hammock, this might be the porch for you. Set off from the main seating area, the swinging spot can become its own private alcove, but it’s still close enough to the action to afford convenient seating for a casual get-together.

Fireside Dining

This patio dining area offers the best of indoor and outdoor comforts. Sturdy wood furniture and a cozy fireplace bring an element of indoor comfort to the room, while the natural wood ceilings seem right at home with the wooded backyard.

Multifunctional Space

By using slim-profile patio furniture, these decorators were able to create three separate, functional spaces in this narrow porch. The lightweight furniture lends itself perfectly to easy rearrangement for hosting a summer barbecue or late-night drinks on the patio.

A-Frame Porch

A wicker canopy over this inviting daybed mimics the lines of the A-frame screened porch, creating a bungalow-luxury look. Tall ferns frame the space and add an extra element of privacy to the windows overlooking the yard.

Colorful Charm

A simple screened-in porch can have big impact with a little color. This small space uses painted floors and furniture, colorful textiles, and a bright yellow lamp to create a relaxing home retreat with a great view of the backyard.

Sleeping Porch

Sleeping porches are a historical architectural element most commonly found on the second floor in older Southern homes, but they’re making a comeback in some circles. A hanging bed is a natural choice for napping—or even an overnight stay—in a cool summer breeze.

Cushioned Comfort

Patio furniture isn’t always as comfortable as year-round indoor furniture, but adding large cushions boosts the cozy factor and could make the patio a favorite destination for relaxing with the family. A floor rug and a tabletop lamp can do wonders to warm up the room and establish a seamless transition between indoor spaces and the porch.

Lodge Look

Chocolate-colored walls and large window frames allow the exposed wood beams to take center stage in this small screened porch. Complemented by an animal print rug on the floor and deer heads on the wall, the room has the feel of a country retreat.

Outdoor Bathtime

A galvanized steel tub is a surprising but charming fixture in this bright and breezy screened patio. It’s perfect for washing up mud-soaked pets or kids before they run into the house—or even, with the addition of a privacy screen, for an impromptu dip in the fresh air.

Color Coordinated

This large and bright screened porch looks even bigger due to the clean, white paint job. The patterned green patio furniture matches the green lamp at the far end, tying together a long space into one united—and relaxing—environment.

Let’s Swing

A comfortable swing is an outdoor staple—but bringing one inside a screened porch is genius. Made even cozier with the addition of cushions, this porch swing is the perfect vantage point to keep an eye on the kids while they play.

Porch railing ideas and how to build a porch railing

Porch railing ideas and how to build a porch railing

The porch railing is the final touch on your new porch.

Sure, safety and maintenance are two important factors to keep in mind, but when you’re looking at railing, there’s undoubtedly an aesthetic component.

It’s highly important that you choose wisely from the various styles you’ll run into.

When we’re discussing deck railing, or even porch railing for that matter, we’re talking about the whole unite placed at the edge, posts, handrails and panels.

The system works in a very similar manner for both front porch railing, and deck railing. Below, you’ll find plenty of information that will help you get the most, and find the best option for your project.

Material options


You can choose between plenty of materials. Just like you’ll find metal porch railing, aluminium porch railing, wood porch railing, or even glass, you have more or less the same materials for your deck. You can choose between them, or go for a combination of materials.

If you want something traditional and easy to work with, wood is great, as it lets you create designs and patterns that you want to match with your deck
If you’re after something durable, yet easy to maintain, iron is your choice. There are many different design, and if you have something specific in mind, you can have it custom made
If you want something that won’t rust, is easy to clean for, and can withstand any weather conditions without the need of treating or staining, go for vinyl deck railings
If you need something that’s unique, yet trendy, go with glass. Glass railings and balusters are usually tempered to prevent damage, and you can choose between opaque or frosted glass.
These ideas work for both porch railing ideas, and deck railing, so make a choice and go for it.

1. Typical builder deck railings

These are bevelled 2×2 wood pickets, which are then fastened to a 2×6 on edge at the top, as well as to the rim joist of your deck.

2. Custom wood deck railings

Wood can give you any size and shape you can imagine. It will take someone who knows what he’s doing, but you can get pretty much anything. The only thing to remember when you’re going for the design is that the end result should be functional, not just fanciful.

3. Pre-made vinyl extrusions with metal inserts

As a solution for a DIY metal deck railing without the need to weld, aluminium inserts in wood deck railings are very popular. You just drill holes in two 2x4s on the vertical, press them together and add a cap handrail.

Aluminium pre-made railings can be bought at most lumberyards. They will commonly use Plexiglas or tempered glass inserts. You can either use those on an as-is basis, or custom make them for your project.

Metal deck railings go from welded metal railings which are then painted, to architectural aluminium with a powder coat finish. Be careful when using metal with red cedar, you might get black stains. However, aluminium works great here too.

4. Composite deck railings

There are a couple of options here, and most come with metal reinforcement. They tend to look like wood, and are a great option if you like the look of wood, and you’d prefer metal’s ease of installation and maintenance.

Deck and porch railing design options

Most of the pre-made designs are either modern or colonial in style, such as minimalism that is pretty stripped down and void of any real style.

These are styles that are usually pretty popular, and metal deck railings tend to be very simple and standard looking. For a custom look, go for a custom metal and/or wood option. When we’re talking custom, only your imagination is the limit. For custom deck railings, ask an exterior designer to help you out.

When you want something that doesn’t impose on the view, a glass or metal railing is much less obstructive. If your house is a natural cedar, or wood-trimmed, you’ll enjoy a semi-transparent deck railing in finished wood.

If you have a vinyl-clad house, go for a solid-color deck, either stained or vinyl. There are plenty of styles, just like there are with homes. Enjoy choosing what fits you best.

Things to know about maintenance

When you’re looking into how to build a porch railing, or deck railing, or anything else of such scale, maintenance is a thing. Since they’re exposed to the elements, aging over time is inevitable and you’ll need to maintain them.

Different materials will age at different rates, and require different upkeep as well. For example, composite railings have color that lasts long, some products might fade a tad quicker than others.

Do your research, and see what works best in your climate

A powder-coated aluminium deck won’t last more than a few years before you need a re-coat, and the paint finish will discolour over time. However, if it’s white metal and powder-coated, it might even break during installation, and you may get rotten drilled parts after a couple of years. And, many of these railings look like aluminium.

Wood varies a lot. Poplar lasts around 9 months, but pine deck railings might go for up to 5 or 10 years. If you go for heart red cedar, ipe, mahogany or old-growth redwood, you may get around 20 to 40 years without a stain.

Your contractor should tell you what kind of material will work for your project, but doing your research might come in handy. An inexperienced contractor, or even carpenter for that matter, might make a mistake that will cost you thousands.

Consider your local building codes

A lot of building departments will have strict specifications as far as deck railings go, and local home inspectors usually know them well. Drop by your local building department and inquire about the codes before you begin building your project.

These codes may affect anything from your railing’s height, to the spacing. What is and what isn’t allowed in your town is something you should know. Pool decking also has different specifications, for example.

A short tutorial on deck railings

These apply for installing the typical builder deck railings, and will come in handy to any DIYer.

1. Build the steps and deck frame, put them in place and clad with the decking. The decking should be trimmed off flush to the rim joist.

2. Cut pieces of 2×6, the upper deck railing, so they mimic the shape of the outer frame member when stood up around the outside of your deck. Each piece has an upward curvature when on the edge, make sure it’s placed with that curvature up.Use screws or finishing nails to put them in place, but keep in mind these will be removed later on. Use suitable deck screws or spiral ACQ nails to fasten them to each other. The base posts should be no less than 3’ deep, and keep the concrete in the hole’s bottom half. For durability, backfill with gravel. You will fasten the railings to these posts when it’s necessary, but give the concrete a few days to settle first.

3. Use a framing square and mark out the baluster positions with a line every 5”. Make a mark on the line’s side, to know which side the baluster will be mounted on.

4. Fasten the balusters at the corner of the upper railing with the appropriate screws.

5. Get someone to help you and lift the upper deck railings into place while you elevate the upper deck railing into place by fastening a screw through the bottom.

6. As you put in the other balusters, the deck railing will get stronger. Use a level to keep things vertical. When you have them all on, use a 3” deck screw to fasten them to the posts.

You can add a 2×6 on the top, as well as a row of 2x2s or 1x1s below the cap. Consider the view, as if you want to enjoy it while you’re on your deck, make sure you can easily see through your railings. Your privacy is important too, so you should consider the railings and whether they’re protecting your privacy.

As far as the installation goes, you should either get railings that you can easily install properly, or get someone to do them for you. And, consider your budget. Deck railings can vary greatly as far as price goes, depending on the design and material, so keep that in mind.

For a custom solution, talk to a builder. Whoever installed your deck might have an idea for the rails, but if you have a specific look or design that you can’t find on the market, try to have them designed for you.

Is it time to paint the porch railing again?

If you want to add style or elegance to your home, and you’re considering front porch railing ideas, maintenance free railing is amazing. Maintaining your home is a time consuming process, and vinyl or aluminium railings can decrease that time.

Unfortunately, most of these solutions only come as a pre-packaged design that might not fit with your home’s design. There are also some lesser brands that aren’t really well made. You could opt for a high-end company that gives you custom designs and colors, but that company is just half of what you need for a successful solution.

You’ll need a company that can employ talented installers. You will need someone with experience, and having someone that’s learning as they go, on your installation, isn’t something you can use.

On older homes, you’ll run into homes with porches and stairs that aren’t evenly spaced, which is a complicated situation for a lot of installers. However, an experienced one shouldn’t have problems with this.

Ending thoughts on porch railing

When you’re choosing railings for your deck and porch, make sure they’re both functional, and decorative, just like you have imagined them. The railings should be both structurally strong, and be an attractive part of your landscaping and deck design.