Decked Out

Homeowners are paying more attention to their decks and manufacturers are responding by offering more deck accessories at all price points. Options include post caps, balusters and cable rails that add elements of décor, and even lighting. By adding accessories to a deck, architects and builders can add style and mood to their clients’ outdoor environments.

Deck accessories should not replace the main function of a deck; they should add to it. “Among deck railing accessories, homeowners are installing cable rails because they will not obscure the view of their surroundings,” says Andy Penny, vice president of marketing, Feeney Architectural Products, based in Oakland, Calif. “These stainless steel cables are typically strung horizontally as an infill. They require virtually no maintenance.” Cables are under tension so homeowners and builders should be aware that frames need to be strong.

Cables are available in a variety of sizes and end fitting styles. Cable can even be vinyl coated in different colors; however, coatings are not recommended for exterior uses because they can deteriorate in the sunlight. The coatings also have to be stripped off the ends of the cable in order to attach the end fittings. "In most cases people want slender cables and fittings so as not to block the view, but we do offer an assortment of cables and hardware because some homeowners and designers prefer the 'appearance' or 'look' of larger diameter cables, colored vinyl coatings or bulkier turnbuckle style fittings. It really depends on their home and railing designs and their personal preferences," Penny says.

Going Postal

Post caps offer another way to enhance the décor of a deck — and a home’s value — without adding much cost. They are installed atop a deck’s railing posts, to add a bit of character. “Post caps offer a stylish addition to any landscape. They add value to your property and protect posts from damaging effects from the weather. They are a cost-effective way to change the look of your house, and create a ‘wow’ factor that can impress the consumer,” says Mario Alfonse, marketing coordinator for Woodway/LWO Corp.

Post caps not only offer protection from the elements, but they are available in an array of design options. LWO offers more than 30 different options including wood, copper, patina, glass and hybrid glass. “Hybrid glass post caps feature a wood trim around a solid glass post cap that is top-notch and enhances the beauty of a yard like nothing else,” Alfonse says.

Wooden post caps are among the most popular choice of deck accessories, says Rick Preble, president, Maine Ornamental in Winthrop, Maine. “Our most popular design is a copper top with a wood base and has been in the market for 15 years. Installation is very simple. It doesn’t require metal fasteners; just slip it over the post with a little construction adhesive. They can fit on any wooden railing system, most composite railing systems, and some vinyl railing systems,” he adds.

Post cap design options have expanded to include lighting options as well as decorative options. Lighted post caps are available in both solar-powered and low-voltage models. “Low-voltage caps come equipped with high-quality, automotive taillight bulbs that can be replaced from any automotive store. Solar lighting, with a full day of sun, can burn up to 14 hours and in the winter it can burn about seven hours,” says Geoff Hale, owner, Aurora Deck Lighting in Whitewater, Wis.

Installation is as easy as nonlighted caps and design options aren’t limited. “There are designer glass options including Tiffany glass options that are available in four colors. Homeowners can change the glass in their posts as often as they’d like. Options include low-voltage, side-mounted lights, and matching and alternating post caps,” Hale explains.

Bold Accents

Deck lighting options are available in many configurations and formats, including glass and metal balusters. Lighted balusters are offered in a patented design available from De-Kor, based in Inglewood, Calif. These balusters use LED technology, are powered exclusively by the manufacturer’s transformer and include standard electrical and low-voltage power options.

“These balusters offer homeowners safety and mood. It’s all about giving homeowners mood and safety lighting at night,” says Duane McCall, president of De-Kor.

Homeowners can expect the bulbs to last roughly 35 years. Design options offered by De-Kor include 15 colors, and orders that can be customized without limit, McCall says. These balusters need no maintenance except for an occasional cleaning on glass versions.

“Balusters are up to standard for industry strength, but are mostly for style. There are six different categories of balusters available from Deckorators Inc. that give homeowners design freedom to pick and choose what style and colors fit their tastes,” says Kelly Jones, general manager of operations and founder of Deckorators Inc. in Crestwood, Miss. “The deck railing is the most important component and the baluster makes up a majority of the railing. It is the most important way to achieve a designer look.”

These balusters are made of maintenance-free aluminum that is polyester powder-coated. “It is easy to change out existing rail — in most cases, all you need is a drill,” De-Kor’s McCall says.

Deck balusters can add a level of distinction for any outdoor living space. And with the growing demand for more accessories, other areas of decks are prime targets for upgrades, including recessed stair and light plans, McCall says.

Accent lighting has been a part of landscape design for years. However, now homeowners are using them to accessorize their decks. “Accent lighting on a deck adds curb appeal and value to a property,” says John Grosche, product manager for Malibu Landscape Lighting, a brand of Intermatic Inc. Accent lighting is available for walkway lights, hanging lanterns, decorative items and solar flip lights.

By design, solar accent lights produce less lighting than low-voltage lights and are charged by the sun. With a full day of sunlight, a solar accent light can burn eight to 10 hours. “Material selections run from plastic to stamp metal and cast metal. Lights are available in approximately a dozen finishes — typically including copper, bronze and graphite,” Grosche says.

“The biggest benefit of deck lighting is that you can simply screw them down to the post for beautification of your outdoor living space.”

Deck accessory products will continue to gain popularity as more homeowners are looking for ways to enhance their homes, and add value, with little expense. “Our deck accessory business grows incrementally every year. Homeowners will continue to raise an eyebrow at deck accessories and facades,” Hale adds.

Decking Products

Trex Co.’s complete line of decking includes the Designer Series Railing which matches the Accents wood-grain decking with reversible smooth side, Brasilia rainforest-looking decking, and Contours. The system features a rail post, easy-grip top rail, bottom rail, balusters, flat or pyramid post caps and post skirt.
For more info, please indicate #60 on e-Inquiry.
Berger Building Products offers the DrySnap under-deck rain carrying system. It’s designed to create a dry, outdoor living area beneath any raised deck. The vinyl panels are easy to install and maintenance free.
For more info, please indicate #61 on e-Inquiry.
Louisiana-Pacific and Andersen Corp. team up to manufacture the newly redesigned WeatherBest Crystal White Railing using Andersen’s Fibrex material technology. The post sleeve is now 5 in. by 5 in. Also, a 114 in. post sleeve option can be cut into three standard heights.
For more info, please indicate #62 on e-Inquiry.
DreamRail Glass Rail System from Thermal Industries provides an unobstructed panorama of front or back yard surroundings. It is a durable combination of 3/8-in. thick tempered-safety glass and maintenance-free vinyl rail components.
For more info, please indicate #63 on e-Inquiry.
CertainTeed Corp. offers decorative post caps for its maintenance-free and easy-to-assemble EverNew and Panorama railing systems. In the EverNew line, 4 in. by 4 in. post caps are available in black and bronze pebble finish. For the Panorama, 41/2 in. by 41/2 in. post caps are available in antique bronze finish.
For more info, please indicate #64 on e-Inquiry.