By Gene and Katie Hamilton
A railing may be a practical and protective barrier around a raised deck or stairway or an elaborative and decorative enclosure with a distinctive design that creates safe footing. It can be ordinary or intricate and add value to its construction while it meets local building code requirements. If you're building a deck or replacing a railing, keep in mind that hand rails are mandated by local codes for decks of a certain height.
If you're budgeting for a new railing here's the numbers: A deck contractor will charge $1089 to replace 50 feet of cedar railing with end posts, balusters (either square or spindles), a cap rail, and post end caps and trim pieces. That includes labor and material. You can buy the cedar components and bolts and fasteners for $325 and do it yourself, and save 70 percent, assuming you have carpentry experience.
The job involves removing the old railing and making any necessary repairs to the decking. Measure the length and width of railing needed for the deck, being careful to follow any specifications from your local building department for the height and spacing of railings. Take a rough sketch of the deck to a lumberyard or home center to get advice about the amount of materials and the type of fasteners you'll need. When you remove the old railing system, note how the posts are attached the deck structure, then reinstall the new posts in the same manner. For tools you'll need a carpenter's square, tape measure, hammer, circular saw, electric drill and screw gun. If this project is more than you want to do yourself, go to Home Advisor, a free online referral service that connects homeowners with prescreened local contractors.
For inspiration about deck features, a new book, 'Deck Idea You Can Use,' offers plenty of ideas.
Follow this link to see different deck railing systems and all the options to replace a railing that complements the architecture of your home. Decks Direct.
That sums it up. Knowing the average cost to replace a deck railing lets you compare doing it yourself with what you can expect to pay a contractor. To customize the cost to where you live add your ZIP Code in the cost box.
Improvement and Repair Cost Updated 2020