Last year I got a call from a client who wanted to create more outdoor living space by building a deck along the back of her house over a part of the yard that was too steep to use. She said she wanted to use Trex, so I was picturing a conventional deck and guardrail. But when I stopped by her house — which was located in the hills above Oakland, Calif. — to look at the job, it became apparent that a conventional design was not going to work.

For one thing, the house had spectacular views of the bay and of San Francisco — views that a wood-picket guardrail would block. Therefore, I suggested using a glass or cable rail system.

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