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Old 06-06-2012, 08:46 AM   #1
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Building a deck, PT or PVC railings?


Hello,

Well, finally getting around to having my deck built in the next couple weeks, and after talking to a contractor, he might have convinced me to use PVC/plastic railing vs. PT. His point was that they're a huge pita to maintain vs. the actual decking which is easier since it's just the floor. He was saying how the cost wouldn't be too much more, since I'm only looking to build a 19'x16' deck.

So.. are there any brands/companies people could recommend for pvc railings? I'm specifically not considering composites (mix of wood and plastic like trex), and I need it to come in different colors, not just white (I'm pretty sure my HOA will not allow white). I'm looking for a brown color for the railings, and whether it "looks like wood" doesn't matter much to me, but it has to look kind of like wood from afar. This of course brings up the concern/worry that a brown colored railing could fade after X years. Any thoughts on this?

Thanks for any suggestions/advice. I was set on doing PT for everything, but I'm thinking that perhaps it makes sense to consider pvc for just the railings, and stick w/ PT for the decking.

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Old 06-06-2012, 10:28 AM   #2
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Building a deck, PT or PVC railings?


I've never heard of PT railings being any more of a pita to maintain than the deck. They both should age and wear at the same rate. If you later decide to paint it once it goes grey, maybe the contractor means that it will be easier to paint the deck than the railing? A lot of people use PVC because it is maintenance free or they like the look. There are numerous brands available on line, or go to a supplier in your location that sells all the top brand names. We used PT on our front deck, and PVC on our back balcony because it is easy to install on an existing deck/balcony.

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Old 06-06-2012, 11:38 AM   #3
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Building a deck, PT or PVC railings?


Wood railings wouldn't be any more difficult to maintain/upkeep than the rest of the deck. If you use a "brightener/cleanser" on the PT floor before you retreat the floor every couple years, it's easy to do the same on the railing.

That is why I custom build a cedar railing for my cedar deck. Since I will be using the "brightener/cleanser" every 2-3 years on the cedar floor before I retreat with SuperDeck Oil/Stain, it is very easy to do the same for the railings.

I have a few neighbors who went PCV/Vinyl railings on their decks and after 3-4 yrs the hot summer days have actually caused some sag to the railings. But they may have been cheaper railings. I've never used them personally.

I am going with white aluminum for my front deck/landing since it is powdercoated, requires little maintenance, and doesn't sag/warp in heat.

Just my 2cents.
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Old 06-06-2012, 12:12 PM   #4
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Building a deck, PT or PVC railings?


Just visited a house where they had the aluminum railings, they were scratched up and the paint was peeling in several spots.
I used to think they were the tops but now really wonder.
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Old 06-06-2012, 12:25 PM   #5
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Building a deck, PT or PVC railings?


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Originally Posted by mae-ling View Post
Just visited a house where they had the aluminum railings, they were scratched up and the paint was peeling in several spots.
I used to think they were the tops but now really wonder.

It all depends whether the aluminum was painted or powdercoated. Older systems were painted and tended to peel after a few yrs. Powdercoating usually has to be hit in order to crack or chip. That is why powdercoating is now the way to do motorcycle frames, etc.
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Old 06-07-2012, 10:29 AM   #6
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Building a deck, PT or PVC railings?


Thanks for the opinions guys. Maybe I'll stick with PT. I'll see what the price difference is between pvc/vinyl and PT. The concern is that some of the cheaper vinyl railings might sag/etc w/ age, which would be worse than having PT railings warp imo. My problem is that I can't use white railings (HOA rules), so I'd need to use a wood like color.
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Old 06-07-2012, 01:32 PM   #7
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Building a deck, PT or PVC railings?


Most PT lumber is now ACQ treated so make sure to use ACQ approved screws/nails otherwise they will get eaten up quickly by the treatment.

Good luck and post a pic when done.
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Old 06-07-2012, 04:18 PM   #8
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Building a deck, PT or PVC railings?


You guys really think it's just as easy to stain 150+ balusters 4 sides as it is to maintain a large flat surface? Really? Have you every actually taken a brush to all 4 sides of a 2x2 baluster?

Use a QUALITY product and preferably one with a core (wood, aluminum, steel) to prevent sagging.
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Old 06-08-2012, 12:56 AM   #9
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Building a deck, PT or PVC railings?


[quote=robertcdf;938487]You guys really think it's just as easy to stain 150+ balusters 4 sides as it is to maintain a large flat surface? Really? Have you every actually taken a brush to all 4 sides of a 2x2 baluster?



Ah, yes I have. I spent a summer custom building my cedar deck. The ballusters are not the bought crap either; each was cut down from 2x6's in to 2x2's, customer routed edges and hand sanded; over 200 total. Then the rails were customer cut, daddo'd and assembled. The entire system has zero screws visible when on the deck.

The staining of this deck took me three days. I used SuperDeck transparent oil/stain which just has to be brightened every couple years and reapplied with no sanding.

For those of us who love wood, it's worth the work for its beauty.
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Old 06-08-2012, 08:01 AM   #10
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Building a deck, PT or PVC railings?


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Originally Posted by dpach View Post
Ah, yes I have. I spent a summer custom building my cedar deck. The ballusters are not the bought crap either; each was cut down from 2x6's in to 2x2's, customer routed edges and hand sanded; over 200 total. Then the rails were customer cut, daddo'd and assembled. The entire system has zero screws visible when on the deck.

The staining of this deck took me three days. I used SuperDeck transparent oil/stain which just has to be brightened every couple years and reapplied with no sanding.

For those of us who love wood, it's worth the work for its beauty.
And you still think it takes just as much time to stain the flat floor as it is each of your 200 balusters? I guess if you used a 2" wide brush to do the floor... no even then I think you could finish the floor in half the time of the rails.
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Old 06-08-2012, 09:07 PM   #11
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Building a deck, PT or PVC railings?


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And you still think it takes just as much time to stain the flat floor as it is each of your 200 balusters? I guess if you used a 2" wide brush to do the floor... no even then I think you could finish the floor in half the time of the rails.
Where did anyone say staining railings would take the same time as the floor? What was said was that maintaining a TP/wood railing isn't any more difficult than maintaining the floor. Since the owner would already be using a brightener on the floor before restaining down the road, it would take no extra prep work to do the railing also.

Actually, brighteners can be damaging to aluminum and vinyl/pcv railings, so it would actually be more work to try and tape/plastic off an entire railing system so it didn't get spashed with brightener when doing the floor.

This forum is meant for people to provide their opinion, not bash the opinions others have. That's the funny thing about opinions, everyone is entitled to have one.
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Old 06-09-2012, 08:21 AM   #12
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Building a deck, PT or PVC railings?


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Where did anyone say staining railings would take the same time as the floor? What was said was that maintaining a TP/wood railing isn't any more difficult than maintaining the floor. Since the owner would already be using a brightener on the floor before restaining down the road, it would take no extra prep work to do the railing also.

Actually, brighteners can be damaging to aluminum and vinyl/pcv railings, so it would actually be more work to try and tape/plastic off an entire railing system so it didn't get spashed with brightener when doing the floor.

This forum is meant for people to provide their opinion, not bash the opinions others have. That's the funny thing about opinions, everyone is entitled to have one.
And my opinion stands, it IS longer and staining all 4 sides of a baluster IS more challenging (or difficult) than doing a flat floor. Yes the materials and tools used are the same, however the time and skill required is higher.

The contractor who suggested using a lower maintenance railing is trying to keep the owners from having to waste 3 days every year maintaining their deck. If they only have to maintain the flooring it can be done in a few hours.
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Old 06-09-2012, 08:32 AM   #13
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Building a deck, PT or PVC railings?


A PVC railing with the alumium inside of it, or better yet a composite railing should not sag if there's a center support leg used under the bottom rail.

If you go with all pressure treated railings concider adding composite decking on top of the top rail, It will stop all the checking, splinters that a 2 X 4, or 2 X 6 will have.
We predrill clearence holes in the wood and install the screws from below so there's no exposed screws showing in the hand rails.

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