Great homes with the best views often have the most fierce winds.
You would greatly benefit from installing a windbreak on your deck railing if you want the enjoyment of outdoor views from your deck. It is a relatively easy thing to fix.
Some Basic Considerations And Options For A Deck Windbreak
Wind will tend to be caught by any vertical structures. In addition, most railing systems on decks will block some wind at least, although some designs will work better than others.
That is also one reason why they need to balance the structural strength of the railing and other considerations since railings that break up the moving wind will be subject to force while those that block it are subject to even more forces. A windbreak works to block the wind in one way, while simultaneously blocking a prime view in the process.
Some people choose to cover their balcony or deck with trellises that stop at about head-height. This works well because it blocks the wind, but it obstructs the view very significantly. However, for those who wish for more privacy, say if they live in a highrise apartment, this may be exactly what they want. One important consideration of this though, is the liability. When it’s exceptionally high winds during a storm, then there’s a good chance that your privacy screen could break loose and end up in the streets below. That’s not a good outcome at all.
Choosing The Right Deck Railing Option As A Windbreak
You can dramatically reduce the amount of wind exposed to a deck by using shorter structures. It doesn’t need to be the overkill approach of something like a head-high lattice windbreak attached to your deck railing. The reason for this is that as the wind is deflected off the lower railing, many of the air molecules will make random contact with each other, thereby changing direction and decreasing the intensity of the wind.
The molecules get deflected upwards if they hit a vertical structure, even if the structure is relatively low. This creates an upward air stream which deflects even more air, leading to a calm air zone.
Despite the fact that a railing that is waist-high will not completely block the wind, windbreaks of any kind, can reduce wind speed by up to thrice the distance of the windbreak’s height. This can make all the difference to enjoying the deck on a windy day.
Here are a few of the options:
- A metal railing generally holds up better to very high winds than a wooden railing, regardless of whether it is made of aluminum or steel. There are, however, a lot of narrow balusters which offer little in the way of wind block. Railings are sometimes made of expanded metal—the equivalent of lattice—instead of balusters, or are made from decorative plasma-cut metal, but they block the view, even if they are effective to disrupt the wind.
- There are various options for wooden railings you might consider. They can be more traditional, as they use 2×4 uprights, or may be a lattice attached to the post. Wood provides a versatile and low-cost option for a deck rail windbreak. It lacks transparency though, so may obstruct your view significantly. Unfortunately, the more windblocking it provides, the more intrusive it may become. Wooden windbreaks need some skill to seem more than just afterthoughts – so they are a bit of a design challenge from an aesthetics perspective. In addition, wooden structures are extremely moisture vulnerable, which results in frequent replacement and maintenance.
- In the railing industry glass railings are an emerging development, especially in outdoors settings. They generally feature tempered glass panels that are suspended in between metal posts, often with the advantage of top and bottom railings. Due to their mounting system, they are durable, and even more so when fitted with a metal bottom and top rail. Beachfront homes and glass railings go well together because glass doesn’t corrode due to salts or moisture. There are several options for glass railings, including paneled options that completely fill the space between posts. Windbreaks do well from this style of railing. The disadvantage is that glass panel railings can be difficult to install, especially in a DIY scenario. Luckily, some manufacturers offer simple slide-in railings that are accessible to most people, giving them the option to install their glass railing themselves.
A glass railing is probably the most effective deck railing windbreak out of the railing choices currently available. It’s also the best way to see those fantastic deck views, even when high winds always seem to come with that view. There is a big advantage to glass railings that they are not as fragile as they seem at first glance – they can handle the strong winds.
Deck railings made from glass can provide the best view from a deck.
Among glass windbreaks that are easy to install, Fortress Building Products’ Pure View system is the best. It can be installed quickly and easily with drop-in glass panels, and it can be used among a variety of building materials, including wood and composite wood, or Fortress’ own metal posts. This system includes top and bottom rails to provide stability and a handhold, as well as a minimal profile to allow an unobstructed view.