A young lady I know has always wanted a Bernese Mountain Dog, which is a large, hard-working breed commonly known as a Bernie that has nothing to do with Vermont (the name actually comes from the breed's place of origin in Bern, Switzerland). My friend was finally able to talk her husband into getting one of these despite his opposition to having a big dog, and they recently took home a Bernese puppy named Emile, who, truth be told, is utterly adorable. He does, however, need to spend some time outdoors every day, and twice-a-day walks aren't going to be enough. She doesn't live in the greatest neighborhood, and until the dog is fully grown she doesn't want him out in the yard without close supervision for fear that someone might walk off with her adorable puppy.
The deck that wraps around the corners of her old Victorian home offers a solution, though. A deck railing with a gate would keep young Emile confined to the deck. The railing would allow her to let him outdoors and would keep him close enough that she can keep an eye on him from inside the house.
Finding an Attractive Deck Railing with a Gate That Matches
Presently, my friend’s house doesn’t have any sort of outdoor railing. Her home’s deck is an extension of what used to be a typical Victorian porch, and it extends beyond the edge of the overhanging roof. Adding a railing to the perimeter of this extended deck would change the exterior appearance of the whole house, so the railing needs to be an attractive one that meshes with the classic elegance of a Victorian home while matching the modern details of the more recently-added composite deck. It also needs to have a matching gate that will secure Emile on the deck.
Being the bridge between the new and the old is a lot to demand from a deck railing. Fortunately, though, there’s a railing that fits the bill. Black steel railing panels look very similar to the wrought iron railings that were in style when Victorian homes were first being built, and there are even light, resilient aluminum railings that look like wrought iron available as well. At the same time, steel railings also have a simpler form than traditional wrought iron, with much of the baroque ornamentation streamlined. While they’re still ornamental, they also complement most modern styles and are a good fit for a 19th century home in the 21st century. One of the best parts is that the majority of these metal railings include the option to have matching gates fabricated or the manufacturer will offer a way to modify a panel into a gate. However, while a railing’s aesthetics are an important factor, they aren’t the only factor. Whether a railing gate is built to contain a puppy or a child, the most important factor is how well it stands up to wear, tear, and even abuse.
Strong Deck Railings with Secure Gates
A strong deck railing with a gate can be useful not just to people with large dogs, but also to homeowners who want to keep family secure on the deck. This includes families with young children as well as elderly relatives who shouldn't walk down the stairs unescorted.
If strength is the most important concern, steel is usually the most appropriate building material for a railing or gate. However, aluminum does have its own strengths, and those looking for a deck railing with a gate might want to compare the two to see which best meets their needs.
- Steel is probably the strongest material you can commonly buy for use in a home. This leads to the other great advantage of steel–that it isn’t very expensive. In fact, it’s far less costly, pound for pound, than aluminum. One disadvantage is that moisture can cause steel to rust. This makes it important to choose a high-quality steel railing system that has more than a basic coat of paint or powder coat. The best systems are pre-welded and use multiple protective coatings to protect the metal’s looks and performance.
- Aluminum is more expensive than steel and not quite as dent-resistant–it can be damaged by impacts steel will shrug off. On the other hand, it doesn’t rust and is far lighter than steel. This matters when it comes to a railing gate because that lightness makes a gate easier to handle when you’re opening it with a full bag of groceries or navigating through it with a big dog.
Like many people, Emile's owner likes the heft of steel, and she's confident that opening a steel gate, even with her hands full, won't be too big of a strain. Others, though, may enjoy the lightness of aluminum, particularly if they choose to install the railing themselves. The other big concern for my friend was the width of her railing gate.
Finding Gates in Useful Widths
The width of a gate is important for obvious reasons. It can be a struggle getting a dog through a narrow gate, and the same applies when your hands are full of groceries or a child. Unfortunately, standard railing gates don't have a lot of flexibility. When you purchase a railing system and choose a gate to go with it you're generally stuck with the standard 33 or 34 inches in width. However, a few railing manufacturers offer the option of converting a full railing panel into a gate.
One of those is Fortress Building Products. Fortress offers gate upright pieces that can be used to turn one of their regular steel or aluminum railing panel sections into a gate up to 48 inches wide. That’s plenty of space for maneuvering an unruly dog or child–even a wheelchair. This is a feature that’s perfect for my friend and anyone else who needs a deck railing with a gate. Fortress uses a unique multi-layer process to protect their railings from the elements, and they also offer knuckles and ornaments to personalize and customize your railings. Contact Fortress today, or find out about Fortress Building Products’ other high-quality outdoor products.