Introduction: DIY Inexpensive Deck Rails Out of Steel Conduit!

Picture of DIY Inexpensive Deck Rails Out of Steel Conduit!

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.

Step 1: Steel Conduit Installation

Picture of Steel Conduit Installation

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 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.

Step 2: Competion

Picture of Competion

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.)


PetrN18 (author)2017-12-01

Dobré řešení :-)

kwhit190211 (author)2017-11-18

The trouble with conduit is, it rusts

Hi there, we're kinda hoping for that here lol, think it will go fine with our "barn yard" look we have going on. But I would think a good rustoleum paint would take care of that problem. Thanks for coming by and checking it out!

merideth (author)2017-11-15

This is a cool looking solution! This is going right in my "save" folder.

Thank you!

onlyHischild (author)2017-11-09

What are "seems"? Could you possibly explain the term? I'm an inexperienced/new wood worker. I really should find a glossary of terms through Google. I love the deck railings!

TeresaM7 (author)onlyHischild2017-11-13

She means "seams." The joining between two separate pieces to make a single piece. In
sewing, it's where two pieces of fabric are sewn together to make a
"seam." In this case, couplings were used to join pieces of conduit

"Seams" is what I meant.

hazlett (author)2017-11-09

Seams, please.

GrandmasHouseDIY (author)hazlett2017-11-14

All fixed

AR1911 (author)2017-11-09

My new deck rails look identical to your "before" photo. I had considered conduit as well but was concerned that they would bend too easily. Not a problem? I would totally drill the hole. There is virtually no loss of strength. Looks good, I'm off to buy some conduit. Thanks

GrandmasHouseDIY (author)AR19112017-11-14

Awesome! The conduit we purchased was surprisingly sturdy!

EdM42 (author)2017-11-09

Yes, many codes require being able to pass the "4 inch ball" test. However some locations also ban horizontal bars. Anything climbable is no good.

Otherwize, I like it. We chose a more expensive design. We bought a typical vinyl railing kit and replaced the most of the vertical strakes with horizontal stainless steel bars. Usually SS bars would be way too expensive but we lucked into a cheap source. If we had thought of conduit, we would have gone thsat way.

GrandmasHouseDIY (author)EdM422017-11-14

Oh that looks awesome! Thanks so much for sharing with us!

jimarch (author)2017-11-09

To comply with the 4” code I used “hog panel” available from the local farm supply. Only the top 2 rows are larger and could be cut off if you want. It’s just as cheap and looks great.

GrandmasHouseDIY (author)jimarch2017-11-14

That's a wonderful idea and actually something I considered doing too! Thank you for sharing with us!

deceiver (author)2017-11-09

Hmm... very innovative. Be sure to check local codes. Most (all?) states require an opening no larger than 4 3/8" between any division on a deck rail. That includes the lower rail on a standard deck. That's why balusters always look fairly close together.

Very true! Out in the sticks where I'm at the only "code" was that I needed to check with out house insurance company. Otherwise we were good to go. They were just happy we finally had something lol But it is very important to check with local building codes before doing anything like this.

Shoumard (author)deceiver2017-11-14

The deck is not that high from the ground to require railings.

didactable (author)2017-11-09

Your point about checking building codes is really important -- and so is thinking about the safety of all potential users of the deck. A guy who built a deck for us some years back had to re-do all the railings because the distance between the supports didn't match the city code. The required distance was designed to keep toddlers from falling off the deck and from getting their heads caught between the supports.

Hi there, where we live we don't have building codes so the only person I had to contact was our house insurance company. But it is very important to ALWAYS check codes before doing anything like this. Thank you so much for coming by and commenting!

gm280 (author)2017-11-06

Make sure you paint or cover any exposed bare steel because it will rust. But I've seen it used for balusters and then painted to coordinate with the color scheme of the house. It looked pretty nice too.

GrandmasHouseDIY (author)gm2802017-11-06

Great idea! Thanks for checking it out and coming by!

About This Instructable



Bio: After fifteen months of renovation we took my grandparents' 100 year old farm, the house my mom grew up on and made it a place ... More »
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