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Modern Deck Rails: Glass vs Cable

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Nothing can ever truly replace the great outdoors… besides maybe a ridiculously detailed, immersive virtual reality. Until such a thing is readily available to the general population, enjoying communion with nature involves leaving your home, if only by that one step it takes to cross the threshold between your door and your deck.

How do you enjoy nature? Do you gaze at it serenely from a reclined chair as you soak up the sun’s rays on a lazy summer afternoon?

What do you do on your deck? Do you round the kids up and start grilling up some patties? Chat with friends over margaritas in the cool, evening air? Retreat from the daily stresses of life?

I have no idea what purposes you specifically have for your deck, regardless of what they are, I’m willing to bet you want a quality rail for it.

In terms of modern railing options, cable and glass are the main contenders. Both offer the simplicity and clean-cut lines a trademark of modern architectural styles. Both do so without blocking your view, Which is better though?

Glass Railing Systems

Let’s face it, glass is quite pretty. It can dress up anything, whether used for windows or a standalone structure. In recent years, it’s become a popular material option for railing systems.

Here are some of the advantages to glass railing:

  • Clear view. Transparency means you can see your scenery.
  • Wind barricade. Glass railing acts as an invisible wall.

There are also some drawbacks though:

  • High cost. Glass can cost more than $100 per panel (plus hardware and installation)
  • High maintenance. Unless you’re passionate about window washing, the regular upkeep this material requires is tiring.
  • Fragile. Not only is glass susceptible to permanent damage should you accidentally hit or chip it, the material is also highly prone to scratches. Even abrasive cleaners can cause damage, creating fine scratching that builds up over time. This can sometimes be buffed out, but the service is expensive and doesn’t always get all the scratches.
  • Deceptive. You can see through glass, but can’t pass through it. This can make it potentially hazardous for children or pets, and can easily hurt or kill birds that think they can fly straight through.

Cable Railing Systems

Rails with a metal or wood frame and cable infill are becoming more and more popular among architects, designers, and homeowners, for a number of reasons.

  • Affordable. Many of our complete rail designs are priced as low as $50 per lineal foot. They are also relatively easy to assemble yourself, cutting out installation costs.
  • Unobstructed views. Smudges and water stains won’t ruin the view of your scenery. Only very narrow cables (thinner than 1/4-inch!) and a sleek top rail will stand between you and your surroundings.
  • Modern aesthetic. The clean lines and industrial flair of cable railing immediately adds a touch of style and complements any architectural design.
  • Little-to-no maintenance. You won’t have to worry about using the wrong cleaner and damaging your rail. A cable railing system will require only minimal periodic cleaning (which can involve something as simple as a wet rag) and on rare occasion tensioning of the cables.
  • Durable. Because our marine grade stainless steel cable and rail materials are designed to withstand very harsh sea environments, you can count on your residential or commercial railing system to last for many, many years.
  • Visible. Though cable railing does not distract from your view, it’s still visible, making it easier to notice and avoid than glass. In the case of birds, not only can they see it, they can pass between the cables, avoiding collision completely.

Visit our photo gallery to get some ideas for your deck railing. Call us to talk about design options, or email us at quotes@stainlesscablerailing.com.

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