Not all decks need railings, but if they do, the railing should be planned at the same time as the rest of the deck. For one thing, its design could influence the deck's basic structure, such as the location of posts or size of rim joists. The railing will also have a strong impact on the deck's appearance, and the two should be planned together to ensure harmony and unity of design.
Your first consideration should be the aesthetic character of the house and landscape. Is it formal? Does it accentuate horizontal or vertical lines? Are angles prominent? Is there an abundance of delicate and rich detailing? Such questions will help you determine which railing designs may fit better than others. If you are not sure, stay with simple and basic designs.
At the same time that you consider aesthetics, you should also be aware of the railing's functional requirements. Must views be preserved? Is the wind a factor? Will you want to set food and drinks on top of the railing? Is privacy needed? Will low flower pots or small objects be placed next to the railing, objects that could slide under a railing that is too high off the deck?
By the time you have answered these questions, the railing will almost have designed itself. Your final task is to evaluate pictures and actual railings for ideas that could satisfy your design criteria.
This classification is intended to show the construction details for a variety of simple railing designs. They can be adapted to any post arrangement. The method for fastening members together is not specified since many options are possible. In most cases, metal framing connectors or toe nailing using predrilled holes will join boards together when they cannot be face-nailed.