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DIY Sunburst Deck Railing

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Want to add pizzazz to an ordinary deck? This DIY tutorial will show you how to build a sunburst deck railing with step by step instructions, including materials. Take your home from ordinary to extraordinary!

A house with trees in the background

Our front deck project totally changed the look of our 1950’s ranch style home. Before we just had a “stoop” and stairs. No curb appeal here!

A house that has a sign on the side of a road

The process involved taking down trees (which was totally controversial) and demolishing the concrete steps.

A bird sitting on top of a wooden fence
A person sitting on a rock

On this project I got to rock a jackhammer and build my muscles while we hauled the brick out of the area. What a ginormous task!

We wanted this addition to our home to stand out and

Since I am a true southerner (born, bred and lived here most of my life) I treated this space like a porch and used it to welcome everyone with a casual and homey feel.  

From Dream to Reality- Our Deck Reveal - Marty's Musings

My very favorite part? My DIY hubby‘s clever railing. Here he is to give you all the details on how to build a sunburst deck railing!

How to Build a Sunburst Deck Railing

From Tim: I really wanted to do something special with the railings. This would have huge curb exposure, so the “same ol’ same ol'” was not an option.

I am not a finish carpenter so some of the more complex designs were not an option either. After some research, I decided on a sunburst design.

I could not have been more pleased with the finished product…but we didn’t get there right away! 

Step 1. Build panels for railing.

A wooden bench

 There are 5 panels approximately six feet wide and 38″ from the deck to the top rail. The horizontal mid-rails are only temporary.

A large lawn in front of a house

I knew that making individual panels, each on their own frame, would be a much easier build. Once complete, they would simply be inserted into the opening and attached to the posts with long screws.

This would also allow for easier maintenance down the road. The frames are 2″ x 4″ horizontals and raw pickets for the vertical and the sunburst rays.

A person sitting on a wooden bench

 This is the initial round of what would be about 30 8′ pieces! I had no idea…

Deck railing

Step 2. Decide on design.

Just noodling-out the design now, which would turn out to be non-compliant with local deck codes…keep reading! The design that made the most sense was to go from center to each upper corner and then space everything else out in equal distances between those points.

Deck and Sunburst

Roughing out the design gave me 7 sunburst rays, which I thought looked like a nice design.

A person standing on top of a wooden fence

At first, I was marking and cutting each picket and then nailing it to the frame with 2-1/2″  deck nails. I would later shift to nailing them in place and then cutting all of them off at the same time.

I also pre-drilled every hole so that the wood would resist splitting.

Deck and Sunburst

Step 3. Measure, mark and cut pickets.

Measure, mark, cut, repeat. Again, at this stage, I was just creating equal distances between each picket. 

Deck and Sunburst

And here is the first attempt! I chose to leave the more finished side facing the street and left a 3″ opening from the deck to the bottom of the design frame. This allows for debris to be blown off the deck under the rail

A view of a large window

SURPRISE! The first design was out of compliance for spacing of railing pickets! They must be no further than 5″ at the widest point for safety reasons…don’t want a munchkin getting the noggin stuck.

SO, this called for a re-design. I would HIGHLY advise checking the code in your area.

Deck railing

The second design allowed for compliance, spacing each picket no more than 4-1/2″ from its neighbor…that’s just how the spacing worked out for balance and symmetry. Again, measure, mark, cut, attach.

You can see here how I left each picket a bit long.

Step4. Cut off pickets at edge of frame.

Once nailed, I just cut all the pickets off right at the edge of the frame. The only pickets that stayed in their original locations were the center and the two corners. Everything else adjusted to them.

A person sitting on a wooden bench

Step 5. Make adjustments as necessary.

Remember, measure twice…cut once! I did make some minor adjustments because each frame was not the exact same size as the other.

A wooden cutting board, with Deck railing

And here is the finished…and COMPLIANT… design! It is a bit more busy than I originally intended, but this design gives us substantially more privacy. So, we went from seven pickets to nineteen!

We have since established a flower bed with six beautiful red knock-out roses across the front. These should really soften the bottom part of the visual. 

A house with a lawn in front of a building

Here is the finished project. 

A house with trees in the background

Back to Marty:

Didn’t my guy do a great job showing us how to build a sunburst deck railing? I love the way the railing is accentuated with the pops of color on the deck. 

From Dream to Reality- Our Deck Reveal - Marty's Musings

Here’s a picture of it stained and decorated. What a difference!

Try these 5 deck decorating ideas on a budget to create a gorgeous outdoor room with an area rug, throw pillows, flowers and inexpensive accessories.

 I think of all the negative Nelly’s as I sip my southern sweet iced tea surrounded by my mason jar citronella candles.

Y’all come on by and set a spell!

A garden in front of a house
A sign in front of a building

Want to see more of our outdoor projects? 

Here are the details on our wood deck restoration.

Wood Deck Restoration with Behr Premium Deckover® - Marty's Musings

Read about our budget friendly backyard patio ideas (which includes a practically free fire pit.)

Spending Time with Family in the Backyard - Marty's Musings

DIY Sunburst Deck Railing

Want to add pizzazz to an ordinary deck? This DIY tutorial will show you how to build a sunburst deck railing with step by step instructions, including materials. Take your home from ordinary to extraordinary!


  • Build panels for railing.
  • Decide on design.
  • Measure, mark and cut pickets.
  • Cut off pickets at edge of frame.
  • Make adjustments as necessary.

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  3. Great work.Very nice to see something different out there.Also seems like a design that could be used on many styles of homes.We can only do so much with vertical posts and I think I’ve seen most of them.
    Love it

  4. This project looks like quite a bit of work but I must say, the result is well worth it!

  5. I mitered the bottom ends of the rays so they would lie closer together. Boss wanted a lighter look, so I used 2x4s ripped in half for the frame. Easy, quick, and attractive. Thanks, Marty and Tim.

  6. Can you tell me the dimensions of the spindles – the width info waxh spindle is what I am looking for?

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