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Friday, April 14, 2017

Comparing Cable Vs. Glass Deck Railings for Your Home

It’s a beautiful clear day in the mountains and you’re ready to sit with your coffee and news on the deck and take in the view. Your deck has been carefully built to give you the perfect view, and you’ve even trimmed the trees around the house so you can see the rolling mountain vistas better. But when you look across your deck, all you notice are the railings. They're not ugly railings, but the rows of pickets are distracting and cluttered-looking, and they draw the eye away from the grandeur of your location. If you have plastic or composite railings, you’re especially familiar with this issue, as these materials are weaker than materials like steel and aluminum, meaning railings, posts, and pickets made of plastic and composite tend to be larger and bulkier compared with those made of stronger substances. So what can you do to open up your deck?

There are options out there that can improve your view and suit your lifestyle and needs. Glass and cable railings both offer unobstructed viewing while still keeping your deck safe and up-to-code.

Fewer Pickets, More Scene

Pickets, or balusters, are the (usually) vertical poles that fill in a railing between the posts. They can clutter a view, and even make you feel a little like you’re in a jail. But you can’t have a view obstructed by pickets if they're not there, right? Vertical cable and glass railings are unique because they do away with pickets.

  • Vertical cable uses thin cables instead of traditional pickets or balusters. This reduces the amount of your viewing area that’s blocked.
  • Glass’ transparency gives it a few more options. Full glass panel railings omit balusters altogether and use only posts. Glass balusters are also an option and have different benefits than full sheet glass.

Both these options make your deck feel more spacious and reduce obstructions to your stunning mountain view; they also have their own pros and cons.

The Skinny on Vertical Cables

For a long time, cable railings were available only in a horizontal setup. This proved to be dangerous for kids who like to climb, as it creates a ladder effect. Now vertical cable railings are available, and these are a much safer alternative which still bring the benefit of being unobtrusive.

Cable railing systems are also virtually maintenance free. They made of stainless steel and are highly resistant to rust. Because of their small surface area, they don’t get dirty easily and hardly ever need to be wiped down. They also offer less area for water stains or birds to make a mess on, which is something to consider if you’re in a foggy or rainy mountain range or you see a lot of wildlife in the area.

Unlike some railing systems (such as the full glass panel systems you’ll read about below), cable railings do let in a lot of wind, so if you’re in a climate that tends to be cool or very windy, cable might not be the best choice.

With pre-assembled cable panel railings, you’ll be able to choose the material you want to use for the railing posts--I’d suggest a low maintenance aluminum or powder-coated iron, both of which will last for decades even in a foggy, rainy, or snowy mountain climate.

Looking Through the Viewing Glass

Innovative manufacturers are now making glass railings in two styles: full panel or baluster. Each one has its own perks and traits to consider. Full panel glass does away with balusters entirely and does a great job of keeping the wind out, as it has very little spacing between the glass and posts. With the full pane and minimal spacing, warming will also occur as the sun shines through the glass panel and its rays turn to heat. In this way, full panel railings tend to warm your deck pretty well. A lot of homeowners I’ve worked with have enjoyed having full panel glass railings on their mountain decks because of the wind-blocking and warming effects. It can get chilly in high altitudes!

One downside of glass is that it usually involves more cleaning, and the more surface area you have (as with full panel glass), the most surface you’ll need to clean. On the whole, people usually tell me that glass railings don’t take as much effort as they expected, and that they clean them about as often as they clean their windows. Still, you’ll want to take this into consideration if your deck is popular with the birds (and the wonderful gifts they leave), or if you have kids and pets smudging it up.

Are you interested in glass but want to keep that crisp mountain breeze? Glass balusters are a good idea. They are separated to allow air to flow through, and they don’t heat the deck as much as full pane infill railing does.

Again, for the rails and posts, aluminum and powder-coated iron are both good choices. A good manufacturer will offer an excellent warranty on these materials, and you should be able to get them in several different colors and finishes to complement your deck and home.

Which Is Ideal for Me?

The bottom line is, as with any decision involving your home, you should think carefully about what your needs are and how a particular railing will suit your lifestyle and location. Fortress Building Products can help you make the right decision about the perfect railing for your deck or balcony. We sell some of the most durable, attractive, innovative, and easy-to-install railing systems on the market. Feel free to give us a call at 866.323.4766 or contact us through our website. If you have other projects on your mind, take a look at Fortress Building Products to see our selection of decking, fencing, fasteners, and hardware.



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