I always get customers asking me about how to attach their railing to their application. There are many different ways to attach your railing although the most popular methods are mounting to the “Fascia” or mounting to the “Surface”. Fascia mounting is also sometimes referred to as a “side mount” or “joist mount”, while surface mounting is occasionally referred to as a “deck mount”, “floor mount”, or even a “top mount”.
There are many advantages and disadvantages to both…
I find that most of our customers prefer to fascia mount their railings and here is why. When you are tight on space the fascia mount will be located on the outside of your deck or stair which will allow you to get a few more inches of room. Most people spend time sitting on their deck looking out at their view and with the fascia mount, the attachment of the post is hidden behind the backside of your deck. This means that the hardware will not be seen either. When your railing is indoors this can be beneficial because it will not collect dust, and you won’t be stubbing your toe in the middle of the night. This also means less to sweep or vacuum around. The same applies for outdoors, there will be less to rake or shovel snow around. Overall fascia mounting is generally considered a stronger attachment method.
There are disadvantages to fascia mounting that you should also consider. Installation is a bit tougher. Typically it becomes a two man job. One person will need to hold the post in place while the other person marks the holes to be drilled. Metal railings can be heavy and if you have lots of linear footage your arms will get tired. Another consideration is the overhang also referred to as a bull nose (typically about ¾” to 1”). If you have one of these on the edge of your deck you will now need to accommodate it. Your options are to purchase a post that has a z shaped bend (like the Keuka Style), purchase our metal spacers (or make your own from wood) and you can always notch out the overhang in each post location.
I find that the biggest advantage to surface mounting is how much easier it makes your installation. Thanks to gravity the posts will stand up easily by themselves which means your project can now be a one man installation job. No overhang to avoid here. Just put it down, line it up and screw it in place. Also, it is one of the most common methods to attach posts to concrete or tile.
Surface mounting has a few disadvantages to consider. Surface mounting typically is considered a weaker attachment method in wood unless it was planned for properly by installing wood blocking under the decking. Think of it as if you have a giant lever and as you lean against your railing which would pull out the screws unless they are embedded in at least 3 inches of wood. of material to lag bolt into.
Hopefully you will find this informative for your attachment method decision. If you still can’t decide which way to go you can always do a combination of both!