A post on how we built inexpensive deck rails out of steel conduit. Have you seen the gorgeous steel wire railings that have been populating Pinterest the last couple of years and gaining huge popularity? Well I sure have and I’ve been drooling over them for months and months… at least until I saw the price tag. It was an absolute no go for us, on top of that they do require tightening over time and that kinda bugged me too. I was leaning toward just wire fencing (yes like hog panels) but that felt a little rough even for us and I would have wanted to frame them out in wood and that would have been labor intensive and costly.
I didn’t want to do the regular spindles for several reasons: the first being I find them kind of boring and the other reason being that, they too, are very labor intensive and expensive when it comes to a deck the size of ours (over 700 square feet!) I also really didn’t want to obstruct the view, I wanted to feel like we were sitting in our yard not blocked off from nature which is why I was so drawn to the wire railings to begin with. But Joe and I are definitely going to have dogs in our life so we still needed to have SOMETHING and, universe knows, our deck has looked pretty unfinished while I’ve been working on this dilemma.
The light bulb went off one day when I was in the electrical department of my local fleet store and I caught a glimpse of the 1/2″ steel conduit. And then I saw the price and my heart literally jumped: at $2.99 for 10 feet this could work! At first I was going to drill through every single post around the whole deck and thread all of the conduit through them. Well, I don’t know about you, but the idea of drilling three holes through our posts really made me wince at how much I would be hurting their structural integrity. I literally had images of them breaking off in our next serious storm. So, no go on the drilling. I saw these steel hole straps on Amazon (at only $10.49 for 100!) and I knew exactly how we were going to do this.
I went around the deck first making a mark where each pipe strap would be using a scrap 2×2 that I marked with a magic marker. I put all the straps over my marks leaving the screws a touch loose so it would be easy to thread the pipe through. Once the pipe was in place I just had to tighten them all down. We cut the pipe when we needed to using an angle grinder with a steel “blade”. At first I didn’t want any “seams” but these little pipe couplings were small enough that they didn’t bother me.
At first I was going to try and have the seams random but once I started adding the pipe I preferred the look of all the seams in the same place. (We did cut the pipe in one place so every single length of pipe we used hit on at least two hole straps.) When we were at this it occurred to me just how versatile this idea is. Why not use PVC pipe and spray paint it to look like copper or wrought iron? Or you could just literally use copper pipe or galvanized pipe (though the expense would be more) and you could also use big rope here too.
All in the deck rails cost only about $110! Pretty amazing for only a couple of hours of work and now our deck finally looks almost finished. Next job is to make the gates! (Note: you will have to check with your local building ordinances if you want to build a deck railing up to code ESPECIALLY if you plan on selling your home. Every state, city and county has their own very specific ordinances I also double checked with our house insurance company to make sure that this would work with our plan.)