Railing post caps are an important functional part of any fence. Resting on the ends of the wooden posts, they protect the posts from rain, ice, and snow. The type of post caps that will work best for your fence will depend on a few different considerations. Keep reading to find out what our panel of readers believes you should know to find your ideal railing post caps.
Three Factors to Consider When Choosing Railing Post Caps
Post Cap Opening Size – To figure out the right width of the railing post cap, you need to measure the width of your post and add from 1/16” to 1/8” to the number.
post width + 1/16” to 1/8” = cap opening size
Mind the Height – Here in the US, all carpenters know that the deck railing must be at least 36 inches high from the deck surface to the top surface of the railing. Deck posts can be 1-3 inches higher than that, but to keep the right proportions, more is not recommended unless you have a unique design solution, of course!
Wood, metal, composite, or vinyl?
- Wood is a classic cap material that provides both a consistent look and the right level of protection to your railing posts.
- Metal caps are another stylish option that can last for decades if you maintain it right. They are also available in a variety of finishes to fit any exterior design.
- Composite and vinyl caps are lightweight and don’t require as much maintenance as wood and metal. Both synthetic materials are durable, cheap, and available in a variety of shapes and colors.
Two Practical Considerations
- Budget – Yes, aesthetics are important, but living within your means is important, too. Hence, still consider your budget. I suggest you don’t splurge too much since you can customize it anyway.
- Style – What is the theme of your home? What is your style? Since we’re taking aesthetics into consideration, know your style and let it speak for you. Make sure that when people see your railing post cap, even if just that, they will have the impression that it’s you who owns it.
Sherry Morgan, Founder of Petsolino.
Choose the Right Material
Choosing the right material for your railing post cap is very important. You should also take into consideration the long-term endurance of the material. Vinyl, though beautiful, is not weather resistant. They grow weak when exposed to cycles of seasons, so I suggest using resin, which is more durable against intense heat and even snow. The aesthetic is also not so bad.
Style, Color, and Practicality
You should choose a railing post cap that fits the style of your home. If you live in a Victorian-style home, you’ll want a more intricately designed cap. If your home is craftsman style, you should choose something more basic. Post caps seem like a minor detail, but if they don’t complement your home’s exterior design, they’ll look out of place.
As far as color goes, most of the time, you’ll want a post cap that matches your railing. Choosing a contrasting color rarely results in a cohesive look.
Practically speaking, you’ll want to choose a post cap that fits the post. Too big, and it will fall off every time someone turns the corner while holding on; too tight, and it won’t even be functional.
Don’t Discount Popular Options
If you’re going to choose the best railing post caps, you need to consider the right color and material. The most common color is black because it matches everything. White, on the other hand, is the least common choice. Wood and vinyl post caps are the top material choices.
Sizing Your Post Caps Correctly
Sizing is one thing you need to consider. In most cases, 4×4 fence posts, for example, lack about half an inch. You’ll need to go with railing post caps in nominal sizes. The only time you’ll need actual sizes is with rough-cut posts. The best way to be sure is to do some measurements yourself.
Another pro-tip: Vinyl isn’t UV resistant. So, there’s a good chance that it may fade over time. Instead, go with ASA resin, which works better in the long term.
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