Summer is fast approaching, and that means it’s time to get outdoors and enjoy all that Mother Nature has to offer. For most homeowners, that means taking advantage of the deck, patio, lanai, or other personal retreat areas of the backyard. For the deck, the furniture, grill, and other accessories are likely covered up and promptly in the rear-view mirror by the fall and winter. That’s ok! We all do it. But, before planning to use the deck, buying a new grill or a new fire pit, or just pulling out a chair and enjoying that first warm late spring day, take steps to ensure the deck is safe and ready to go. Here are four tips to make the deck and backyard oasis, your ultimate outdoor living space, a special place to enjoy summer safely.

1. Safety check first

The first step is a simple safety walkaround if the deck hasn’t been checked since the fall. Check for splinters (no one likes to step on those or get them in their fingers), check to ensure there are no loose fasteners, and check to ensure the railings are secure. Go below the deck and check the undercarriage for any storm, termite, or pest damage that might’ve occurred during the winter.

But most importantly, check to see if the deck is secured to the home.

2. Making your deck safe from natural disasters

A secure deck is critical. These kinds of structural details can get lost, and it’s essential to have the deck checked to ensure it is secured to your home.

What do you look for, and how can you tell if the deck is secured? Most residential decks are supported on one side by a ledger that is bolted or “lagged” to your home’s band joist. This connection is critical since a failure here can cause a deck to collapse. Again, it’s a simple visual for you to see. If it looks rotten or separated, have a professional come out and check.

For those on the west coast, this is important because of earthquakes. It is essential to have the deck checked to ensure it is secured to the seismic code. For those in the Midwest and east coast, summer means hurricane season. A secure deck means the difference between a collapsed deck and one that withstands hurricane winds. One tip if you live in a hurricane-prone area: Trim back any trees in or around the yard. Falling branches and tree limbs can cause considerable damage to the deck.

3. New railings can make any deck feel and look like new

Now that the deck is checked, safe, and secure, it’s time to focus on the look and its use —in other words, the fun part!

Consider an aluminum cable railing system by ​​RailFX. This solution offers security, safety, and beauty on balconies and can open the deck to clear views of the backyard or, if you’re lucky, views of the mountains or the ocean. RailFX cable railing solutions not only add outdoor appeal, they add a durable, long-lasting, and elegant railing solution.

4. Don't forget accessories

For the pizza fan, add a pizza grill, an affordable option that adds a touch of fun, is easy to use, and provides a great entertainment focal point. If the deck grill isn’t cutting it or was ruined by the harsh winter elements, there are many options on the market, including the Char‑Broil® TRU‑Infrared™ Grill. Fire rings are a popular choice, too, including the Solo Stove, a smokeless fire pit built for the backyard and beyond.

And let’s not forget outdoor furniture that is comfortable and practical like Sunbrella’s outdoor line. Always a stylish choice that is also designed to endure all the elements of nature. Mix and match fabric colors, styles, and textures to bring your vision to life.

Whatever the accessories, the deck area should be a fun and safe way to enjoy all that summer offers.

Interested in learning how to make the deck safe and enjoyable while opening up your view? Get inspired and see how RailFX has been used in homes to create the wow factor.


Want to learn more? Contact RailFX or find out where to buy.

Earlier this year, we announced the top three winners of our annual photo contest showcasing projects using RailFX aluminum railing systems. It is always amazing to view the creativity of each project, not only using our products but for the pure, simple joy of seeing the fantastic applications and views. Our aluminum railing systems — cable, picket, or glass infill — offer durability, safety, and open sightlines so the homeowner can enjoy their view, whether the ocean, the mountains, the forest, or their backyard.

It’s no surprise to anyone today that outdoor living is a top priority for homeowners, whether designing for expansion or overhauling to suit their needs today, creating a balance of work, entertaining, and relaxation. As the market continues to demand outdoor products, we’re pleased to see RailFX chosen for so many projects.

Congratulations! Our judges had their work cut out for them this year. Without further ado, below are the top three entries, two of which are homeowners.

The 2021 Contest Winner: Kirch Improvements used RailFX 400 series in white aluminum posts and railing and stainless-steel cable infill for this Okauchee Lake project for house and boathouse decks, offering the homeowner the ultimate in clear views. The use of a white aluminum railing, a standard color from RailFX, compliments the contemporary white house design.

lake deck railing

Our second-place winner, Mark Goldberg, is a homeowner from Astoria, Oregon, which sits on a steep hillside above the mighty Columbia River. Mark installed a RailFX aluminum railing system with a glass infill to act as a windscreen while still offering a clear view.

The third-place winner and People’s Choice Award went to the Berardo home in Northern California. Berardo’s installed a RailFX aluminum cable railing system in a silver finish to blend in and not distract from the view of the Carmel Valley to the Pacific Ocean.

We thank all who participated this year. It was a pleasure to see all the projects using RailFX aluminum railing systems. Please keep sending us your project photos. We’d love to feature them on our website and a testimonial blog. Email to share your project photos.

Kirch Improvements

Okauchee Lake Project

One of the fastest-growing areas of Wisconsin is the City of Oconomowoc, sitting midway between Milwaukee and Madison. The city, named after the Potowatomi word for “where the waters meet,” is in the heart of Waukesha County’s Lake Country. One of the many lakes surrounding the area is Okauchee Lake, comprising 1,210 acres; and is fed by and drains into the Oconomowoc River.

Boating and being on the water is the way of life on Okauchee Lake, with many families using a boat to get around the houses to visit and socialize with friends; a place to connect. And when not on the water, the homes surrounding the area boast beautiful views. So, it’s no surprise that a deck is a must to enjoy the view.

For example, consider this home and its accompanying boathouse with expansive decks recently completed by Kirch Improvements. The original deck was comprised of old composite and wood posts with makeshift cable rails that weren’t sturdy or safe. “The original railing was 36-inches and may have had five or six cables running horizontally,” said John Kirch, owner of Kirch Improvements.

John worked with the customer to keep the existing curved radius design. “We replaced the old composite decking with new capped polymer decking and used RailFX 400 series with a capped polymer top rail,” said John. The white aluminum railing, a standard color from RailFX, compliments the contemporary white house design.

“Overall, it’s a simple design, with shorter rail sections to mimic the radius look,” added John. “We also added lights to the rails.” A nice added touch for those long summer nights while sitting outside or navigating from the boathouse to the main house and back.

We designed and installed RailFX to offer the homeowners the ultimate in clear views ~ John Kirch