While a patio or balcony might be great for a view, sometimes they put you right in the path of the wind. This was the case at a friend of mine’s beachside place. She had a great view, but she couldn’t enjoy it at certain times of year because of the wind. She was considering adding lattice panels to block the wind, but didn’t want to lose the view. She got the best of both worlds by using a glass panel railing system to keep the windiness down on her deck without ruining the seascape.
Most railing systems that are designed not to intrude on a view–like cable railing–don’t work great for cutting the wind, but a glass panel system is different. By offering full coverage rather than spaced balusters, it significantly reduces the wind. It’s also a great low maintenance alternative to wood or wood composites, which is why glass is one of our favorite wind blocking deck railing ideas. So what should you look for in a good glass (or other material) railing that’s going to have to stand up against wind and other weather? We’ve got some tips.
Wind Blocking Deck Railing Ideas and Considerations
If you’re installing a deck railing as a windbreak, you’ll need to take a few additional steps to ensure it’s secure. It’s not usually one big gust of wind that takes down a railing. Instead, the railing gets worn down over time and weakens due to the continuous impact. If you’re looking specifically for a deck or balcony railing design to minimize wind, remember that in a windy area it’s possible that:
- Your railing may vibrate: When the wind is heavy enough, the way it impacts your railing could cause your system to vibrate. This continuous vibration can be a mild irritant due to the noise, or it could cause serious structural damage. A way to work around this is to use a railing system with posts spaced relatively close together. This increases support and reduces the potential for vibrations.
- Weathering will occur faster: If your railing is in the direct path of the wind, it’s likely going to weather faster than it would in a less breezy environment. This means that paint might flake or fade faster than it usually would. Glass systems are ideal for avoiding this as they are not porous, which keeps moisture from getting inside and causing the material to break down, and they do not have the ability to fade. Some glass railings are available with powder coated posts and rails that use a very durable powder coat, rather than just paint, to protect the metal beneath.
- Debris could make it onto your porch or deck: Wind doesn’t just cause issues because of the pressure it creates. It can also pick up debris like sand and leaves and push them onto your porch or balcony. I know this was a big issue for my friend, who was constantly sweeping relatively large amounts of sand off her deck. To minimize your debris problems, a solid panel railing is best, as it blocks debris from making it inside.
Keep in mind that when you’re choosing a railing system for a windy area, you want to make sure it’s been tested to be compliant with the International Residential Code. If it’s compliant with the International Building Code as well (which regulates commercial buildings), you know it’s even tougher.
Why Glass May Be Best for Your Railing
The most obvious benefit of a glass railing system is the minimal post and railing profile. That means that you can make the most of your view while minimizing the wind you must deal with. This is a great option for high elevations, coastal areas, and other windy locations because glass:
- Resists corrosion: As we mentioned before, glass doesn’t absorb water, meaning it won’t eventually rot and break down like you’d see with most wooden systems. Glass is a particularly sturdy material for railings in windy climates because it resists warping, bending, and breaking much better than other materials like wood or vinyl.
- Does not require regular maintenance: Glass systems are particularly low maintenance, provided they’re treated to resist damage. Good systems will use something called a PVC extrusion glazing process, where a thin, transparent layer of plastic will be placed over the glass to provide additional protection from damage. To keep it clean, you can simply wash it like regular glass. There’s no need to repaint or refinish it, as a glass system will stay looking new for years to come.
- Is not susceptible to temperature changes: Glass doesn’t burn, and it must be heated to about 1400 degrees Celsius to melt. It also stays strong in cold weather, while other systems are more vulnerable to temperature, and may even become brittle and crack in very cold weather (vinyl is one example of this).
- Offers full coverage: Glass panel railings are one of the few railing systems designed to be solid, without traditional balusters and the gaps between them. This full coverage makes a big difference when it comes to the amount of wind on a deck or balcony.
One of the biggest challenges people face with a glass system is the installation. For the most part, these systems tend to require custom cutting and professional installation. This means having your railing’s glass panels custom cut according to your measurements, which can be expensive and time-consuming, not to mention nerve-wracking. The manufacturer my friend chose, though–Fortress Railing–offers a drop-in glass panel system that takes much of the difficulty out of installation. By using a system of precut panels that come with a simple mounting system, it’s possible to install your glass railings yourself.
Fortress Railing offers their Pure View glass railing with a range of post and rail materials and finishes that can work with any setting. They also provide other durable building products, like composite decking, that can make your porch or deck an even more beautiful, comfortable place to spend time.