Back when I was a kid, we didn’t have nearly the amount of safety precautions that we have today. We used to play in the street, explore the woods alone, and swim in the river without life vests. And when it came to our family dog Rusty, he pretty much had to fend for himself, too. We all like to look at our childhood through rose-colored glasses, but we probably were pretty lucky that no one got hurt back then. And when it came to our pets, I think they just had to learn to survive on instinct.
Nowadays we have a lot more safeguards in place to keep kids and pets safe from harm. But while you can tell your children to avoid the edge of the deck, sometimes it’s not as easy to train your pets. That’s why ensuring your deck is safe for your furry friends is important when choosing the right railing for your home’s deck area. But choosing a pet safe deck railing doesn’t mean you have to compromise the look of your deck. You can still have a unique and elegant railing that suits your home’s style if you keep some key factors in mind.
Why You Need a Pet Safe Railing
Back when I was a kid, when one of our dogs had babies, the little puppies would stumble around the porch and yard following us around. One thing we didn’t have back then was a railing around our porch, so inevitably, one of those little guys would take a tumble right off of it from time to time. Luckily, it was only about eight inches from the ground, but if we had had a railing around that porch, it sure would have been a lot safer for them. But there are lots of other reasons to think about your pets’ safety when you’re choosing a railing. They are:
- Prevent pet falls: Like those poor puppies of ours, having a pet safe railing would have kept them from falling off the porch. But even if you have a railing, sometimes the bottom rail of that railing is high enough off the porch for pets to squeeze under and fall off. Horizontal railings, such as horizontal cable, can also cause falls when pets climb up and over them like a ladder.
- Avoid pet injuries and accidents: It’s not just falls that you have to worry about with railings, though. Railings that have sharp corners or decorations that come to points are dangerous because pets can cut or scrape themselves on them. Pets are also in danger of ingesting paint chips or splinters from flaking paint and wooden railings.
- Maintain the look and quality of the railing: Having a pet safe railing also means keeping it safe from your pet. Our old dog Rusty would almost always obey when we told him to do something, but when we weren’t around, he would chew on just about anything. Some animals will chew on everything from wood to plastic, which is why having a durable railing that is safe from wear and tear is pretty important, too.
Pet Safe Railing Options to Look For
I think our dog enjoys going outside way more than we do. Everytime I open that door, it’s like the first time he’s ever been out there. I want to be able to let him do what he pleases, so it’s important to know that my deck railing is safe. That’s why you want to look for these qualities in a pet safe railing:
- Strong enough to handle weight: If you have a big dog, you know it’s important to have a really strong railing to withstand the impact of all their weight. The last thing you need is your Great Dane to lean back into your railing for a back rub and push it off the deck–or even just loosen it so the deck railing becomes wobbly. Strong steel railings are a good choice over wood or vinyl that can more easily break under weight.
- Durable to withstand wear and tear: Pets love to chew on things so having a durable coating like powder coating is important too so they don’t ingest harmful chemicals from paint or coatings–and so they don’t ruin your beautiful railings. Pets also have a tendency to mark their territory, so it’s also important to the life of your metal railing that it be corrosion resistant enough to stand up to dog urine. Even better, choose a durable glass railing that doesn’t chip or corrode.
- Proper spacing to prevent falls: When your little buddy is anxious to get outside, the last thing you want to worry about is them running out and falling straight through your railing. Balusters can be a maximum of four inches apart by code, which is great for keeping babies safe (it’s designed to prevent infants from getting their heads stuck between balusters) but it doesn’t take into account pets that might be smaller. Look for railing systems that let you adjust for spacing that is safe for your pet, like individual balusters that you install directly to the deck, or fascia-mounted balusters that attach to the outside rim of the deck and eliminate space below the rail.
- Smooth edges to prevent injuries: Materials like wood and vinyl can chip and break, exposing sharp edges, and metal railings with poor quality coatings like paint can rust and flake off, creating places where pets can easily get cut.
Best Railing Materials for Pets
You can find just about any kind of railing out there, but finding a stylish one that’s also safe for and from your pets may not be obvious. When looking for a pet safe railing, you want to focus on durability and safety, which is why I recommend the following types of railings for pets:
- Powder-Coated Steel: Steel railings have a long lifespan and is strong enough to handle all of Fido’s weight. And with high-quality coatings (some manufacturers will start with galvanized steel, add a zinc pre-coat, a moisture resistant e-coat, and a tough, baked-on powder coating on top), it won’t rust or chip, which keeps your pet safe and your railing looking like new.
- Glass: This style of railing may not seem like an obviously pet-friendly choice (and yes, you might have some nose smudges), but a quality glass railing system can be extremely sturdy and will never rust or chip like painted railings. Well-designed glass railings systems can be installed by yourself, and if you get a glass railing in a panel style, there won’t be spaces between balusters for your pet to squeeze through.
- Vertical Cable: Vertical stainless steel cables are harder to find than horizontal ones, but your pet won’t be able to scale these, and the stainless steel is extremely easy to clean and resistant to all kind of corrosion (and chewing!).
My dog Rusty and I had a lot of good adventures when I was a kid, and now I see my kids having their own adventures with our family pets. The only difference is I feel more confident about letting them go outside on their own knowing we’ve created a safe environment for them out there–at least on the deck.
We choose our deck railing because it met our requirements for a safe pet railing but also has a stylish color and design to match the look I wanted to achieve for our yard and deck. Fortress railings has a variety of pet safe railings that can be customized to meet your safety needs in a style that reflects your own. Their individual steel balusters come in a variety of styles that are sophisticated but also check all the boxes when it comes to keeping our furry friends free from danger. They also go great with Fortress deck systems that provide the same quality when it comes to stylish design and durability.