Aluminum Railing Installation Practices: Surface Mount vs. Face Mount

There are typically two methods for installing aluminum railing systems.  To determine which method best suits your needs Atlantic Aluminum has outlined the advantages and disadvantages to each mounting strategy. 


Surface mounted railing is when a railing system is installed into the surface of the foundation; surface mounted railing is also referred to as ground mounted.

The benefits of installing railing with a surface mount application include less labor to install, less invasive to the finished concrete foundation, requires no addition equipment to install, requires no coordination with other trades, and can be installed from the surface of the deck.

The disadvantages of Surface Mounted Railing Systems is that it decreases the deck or balcony space and will have visible anchors and mounting brackets.


Face mounted railing is when a railing system is installed to a balcony edge rather than the walking surface.

The biggest advantages of face mounting a railing system is that it will give increase the area of a balcony or deck by approximately six inches.  It also increases the aesthics because the anchors and mounting brackets are less visible.

The disadvantages of Face Mounted Railing Systems are as follows:

1-Balcony edges range in thickness from 5-8”.  Anchor engineering will not allow center of anchor to edge of concrete (distance to be less than three inches). This will result in only one anchor in the center of each slab edge per post.  Consequentially a railing system installed in this manner will not meet IBC engineering load values.

2-Another disadvantage is that a lift is typically required to install the railing from the exterior of the building  thereby incurring additional costs for labor and  equipment.

Railing Specifications Available

Looking for specifications for our products? We have an entire specifications directory for most of our products waiting for you!  

View Specifications

What’s your next project?

We have all the products you need to get started on your next project, today! Please view our products to see what we have to offer.

Get Started Today

Recent Articles

We are pleased to present our 2-time AAP President’s Award winner, Genetta Dykes, as our employee of the month!

Genetta joined our team in 2008 as...