labor cost to install composite railing

Average Cost of Composite Deck Rail Installation

Average composite railing cost installed by a pro is $57.00 per linear foot. If you DIY, average cost for the materials is about $33.00 per linear foot.

Composite railing estimates from pros include the cost of the materials, installation supplies and labor. The cost to remove and dispose of old railing are extra, and they are discussed in this Costimate.

Average Do It Yourself cost

$25 – $36 / Linear Foot

Average Contractor Installed Cost

$52 – $60 / Linear Foot

Typical Cost Average

$57 / Linear Foot

Last Updated: Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Overview of Composite Deck Railing

Composite deck railing is popular because it looks more like genuine wood than PVC or vinyl railing and doesn’t have wood’s maintenance challenges and eventual splitting. It’s a more cost-effective option than aluminum deck railing. An existing treated pine deck can be upgraded or refurbished with composite railing when it is time for significant deck repairs. And it is popular with composite decks too, of course.

Many homeowners install full composite railing – composite top and bottom rails with composite balusters. But here’s an idea. Consider composite posts and rails in conjunction with cable railing infill. In other words, cable replaces standard balusters. This combination is nearly maintenance-free while giving you a better view of the landscape beyond your deck.

This Business Finance News post, a cost estimate of composite railing price, includes cost factors you can use to determine your actual cost. Accurate retail prices for the materials are listed, and labor costs are discussed – and materials plus labor equals total cost. Along the way, composite deck and porch railing prices from other reliable estimating sites are included.

When you have your deck railings installed, please consider returning to Business Finance News (bookmark us now?) to share your project scope and costs for the benefit of other readers. They’ll appreciate it, and we will too.

Product and Installation Supplies Cost Details

Composite Deck Rail Cost Factors

Composite deck railing cost, when installed by a deck contractor, ranges from $44 to $68 per linear foot.

Home Advisor gives an average cost of $50 per linear foot, toward the upper end of our range.

The Deck Cost Guide has a narrower range than ours at $45-$60 per linear foot, perhaps not considering how a gate or lighting might affect cost.

Most reliable estimating sites give a range. What are the reasons for the cost differences?

There are both material and installation factors that affect composite porch and deck railing prices.

  • Quality of the Deck Railing – Not all composite railing is the same. You’ll pay more for materials that are capped with durable, waterproof covering on all sides vs those capped on just the top and side. Other quality differences include the hardness of the materials and how well the interior materials are protected from moisture penetration.
  • Scratch Resistance – This is definitely a quality issue. The harder the top cap, the more it stands up to dragging deck furniture across it and general wear and tear. Trex, for example, makes three tiers and rates scratch resistance with stars: Trex Enhance – 1 star; Trex Enhance Naturals and Trex Select – 2 stars; Trex Transcend 5 stars. That’s quite a difference, and it’s no wonder the Transcend Series is twice the price of the basic Trex Enhance. While the range with Trex is broader than most, all composite decking and railing manufacturers make basic, better and best grades.
  • Baluster/Infill Materials – Composite deck posts and top/bottom rails are used with balusters (aka infill or pickets) made from composite ($$), aluminum ($$) and stainless steel ($$-$$$). Another option is cable ($-$$$).
  • Post & Baluster Height – Standard heights are 39” for rails 36” tall and 45” for 42” rails. The cost for taller posts averages $7 – $14 more. Baluster packs are similarly higher in cost.
  • Railing Length – Sometimes longer rails cost more per linear foot than shorter ones. It’s likely due to manufacturing issues.
  • Premium Colors – Richer, darker colors often cost more than light or white. For example, one popular online porch and deck railing retailer offers Trex Transcend railing for $7 per foot for white but more than $10 per linear foot for dark colors.
  • Gates – The cost of a gate in any deck railing material is usually about two times higher per linear foot than the rest of the railing.
  • Caps – Stylish post caps can raise the cost per post of up to $30.
  • Lights – Most composite brands offer post lights, stair lights and wall sconces as accessories to provide safety and ambience. They range in cost from $35 to $90. Most are LED solar-powered lights.
  • Deck Shape – The more complex the deck, including deck stairs that need railing, the higher the labor cost. More cutting, trimming and stairs all add to cost.
  • Who Does the Work – Now we’re talking about the installation cost factors, and this is the largest of all factors. Composite railing is typically sold in kits – a bunch of pieces that require onsite assembly, while some other materials use pre-fab rail sections. This means the labor rates for composite are higher than for most other materials.

As you can see from this 6-foot railing kit from The Home Depot, this will take time to put together, and at $50-$75 per hour, it will add up.

Cost of Supplies

Deck railing materials are mix and match. You can have full composite railing or use a composite frame with cable, glass or metal balusters, also called in-fill.

Here are material costs for all-composite porch and deck railing.

We check composite deck railing prices at major retailers like Home Depot plus several of the top online sellers. Composite decking calculators like TimberTech’s are also useful, though they don’t factor in installation labor cost.

  • $30 – $50 per Linear Foot | Level Composite Rail and Baluster Kits
  • $34 – $55 per Linear Foot | Stair Composite Rail and Baluster Kits
  • $75 – $120 per Linear Foot | Composite Deck Gates in either All Composite or Composite with Metal Pickets
  • $7 – $14 Linear Foot | Deck Fascia Boards
  • $35 – $120 each | Composite Post Sleeves – There is a wide range of quality
  • $2 – $3 each | Pressure Treated Pine Post Insert
  • $12 – $35 each| Composite Post Caps
  • $50 – $100 each | Composite Post Caps with Lights
  • $8 – $16 each | Composite Post Base Trim
  • $18 – $33 each | Post and Rail Bracket Kits per post

Top Composite Deck Railing Brands:

  • Deckorators ($$)
  • DuraLife ($$)
  • TimberTech ($$-$$$$)
  • Trex ($$-$$$$)
  • Fiberon ($$$-$$$$)
  • Azek ($$$-$$$$)

Cost of Disposal for Damaged Decking

When old railing will be removed, you have three options. The easiest is to get rid of it a little at a time in your weekly trash pickup. If it’s vinyl or metal, it might go in your recyclables bin or be taken at your local recycling facility.

When decking needs to be disposed of too, many homeowners rent a dumpster and do it themselves. A dumpster or larger roll-off container is a good choice. They come in a range of sizes from about 5 to 40 cubic yards to meet your disposal needs.

Here’s a cost-saving tip: Cost per cubic yard of space often goes down the larger the container. So you’ll save money by doing that major clean-out you’ve been planning or by going in with a neighbor or two also planning a renovation or cleanup project.

Full details are in our Dumpster Rental Costimate.

Finally, paying the contractor to remove and dispose of old decking will cost $5.00 to $7.50 per square foot. If just railing is removed, the cost will be $2-$3 per linear foot.

Sample Composite Deck Railing Project Costs

Let’s consider 3 decks, each 500 square feet:

Rectangular, Single-level Deck, 20’x25’ attached to the house, 65 Linear feet of Railing:

  • Basic quality railing: $2,680
  • Better quality railing: $3,125
  • Best quality railing: $3,575
  • Installed Cost Range: $44 – $55 per linear foot

Non-rectangular, Single-level Deck, 80 linear feet of Railing:

  • Basic quality railing: $4,160
  • Better quality railing: $4,600
  • Best quality railing: $4,960
  • Installed Cost Range:  $52 – $62 per linear foot

Two-level Deck with Stairs between levels, 115 linear feet of Railing:

  • Basic quality railing: $6,670
  • Better quality railing: $7,250
  • Best quality railing: $7,820
  • Installed Cost Range: $58 – $68 per linear foot

Permits, Inspection, Related Costs and Installation Time

Permits and Inspection Cost

  • $30 – $150 | A permit including an inspection is required to ensure the deck is safely built to code. Deck size and where you live determines exact cost of the deck permit.

Related Costs and Installation Time

A team of experienced composite decking installers can assemble and install 8 to 15 linear feet of composite deck railing per hour based on job complexity. With basic setup of equipment and cleanup of the jobsite, here are common time frames.

  • 5-7 Hours | 80 Feet of “Easy” Railing Installation
  • 6-9 Hours | 80 Feet of “Average” Railing Installation
  • 8-10 Hours | 80 Feet of “Complex” Railing Installation

DIY or Hire a Pro?

There is money to be saved with composite deck railing assembly. If you’ve built a deck before and have the time, DIY is a good choice.

Keys to success are:

  • Setting (or correcting existing) wood posts to be plumb and level
  • Cutting all composite post sleeves to exactly the same height
  • Cutting and installing the top and bottom rails, if using composite balusters, so that the holes in each rail align. This ensures the balusters will be “perfectly” vertical with no lean.

This video from Home Additions Plus is a good overview of the project. It shows the steps and skills needed and will help you decide if it’s a project you want to tackle. It also shows how labor-intensive composite porch and deck railing is and why installation cost is higher than with other decking rail types.

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