Do you need a railing?
If you’re building a deck, you often need to install a railing for safety. But that can make your deck look boxy and uninviting. Here are some ways to reduce or eliminate the amount of railings you need. Remember to check the building code first!
1. Build a ground-level or low-level deck. This eliminates the storage area for bikes, lawnmowers and stray cats, but it can look more inviting than a towering fortress.
2. Widen your stairs. Rather than building a three-feet wide set of steps down to the yard, make them six-feet wide, 10-feet wide… or more. This may eliminate the need for a railing in that area (check the Code). And it gives you a place to sit.
3. Build benches with backs along the edges of your deck. They can eliminate the need for railings and provide seating for all those guests who will soon be coming to check out your new deck.
What’s this coming up through the cracks?
Sometimes people worry about weeds growing up through low decks. Your best advice? Relax. As long as your deckboards are spaced only 1/8″ or so apart, few weeds will survive the darkness down there. But if you really want to make sure, you can lay down plastic sheeting supported by heavy rocks. Punch holes every foot or so for drainage. Or use landscape fabric. Water passes through this fabric, but sunlight won’t, so weeds can’t survive. In all cases, remove any large weeds first of all.