RAIL OR balustrade

Old House Journal - - Design -

This is where so many deck de­signs go ter­ri­bly wrong. Flat, hor­i­zon­tal rails are a con­tem­po­rary de­fault and don’t be­long on a tra­di­tional house.

The sim­plest deck is a plat­form at or just slightly above grade, and it won’t need rail­ings to meet code. Still, a rail­ing or balustrade may help in­te­grate the deck with the style of the house. For rail and balus­ter or spindle de­signs, look at the ex­ist­ing de­tails on the house or in the neigh­bor­hood: porch com­po­nents, brack­ets, steps, even old fences. Any of th­ese may be adapted, but in gen­eral they should be sim­pli­fied—not di­rect copies or over-em­bel­lished. The deck is a se­condary struc­ture. Rather than copy a com­plex piece of fret­work, for ex­am­ple, choose one el­e­ment as in­spi­ra­tion for a rail­ing.

The en­clo­sure doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily have to be made of wood; on a stone house, stone com­po­nents may bet­ter in­te­grate a new deck.

ABOVE This con­tem­po­rary deck is well sit­u­ated at the rear of the house; tucked around a win­dow bay, it gains in­ter­est and its ap­par­ent size is re­duced. The rail­ing and skirt de­tails mimic those of a tra­di­tional porch. LEFT Near the back door of an Ital­ianate house, a new din­ing deck picks up de­tails from the front porch; this ex­u­ber­ant em­bel­lish­ment works on the large, com­plex build­ing.

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