Advice

The complete guide to balustrade systems

Balustrade systems allow homeowners to add style and sophistication to their home. They are also essential in commercial buildings. Providing adequate safety to stairways, roofing and decks, it’s essential you choose the right system to fit your needs. There are a number of factors to take into account before having one installed.

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What are they?

Balustrade systems come with or without handrails. They are created from numerous materials and are used to enhance safety.

When you look at a stairway for example, the balustrades are the little posts that join the railings together. A typical balustrade system includes a bottom rail, top rail and an infill material. This infill is basically a protective barrier.

They are required by law to be installed on the open side of a stair case or balcony but there are literally hundreds of systems available, providing plenty of choice in terms of design.

Custom-made balustrades

Bespoke balustrades are popular as they allow you to tailor the design to your home’s specific needs. You can match the balustrade to the style of your home or property. There is a huge range of materials and styles to choose from.

If you need any inspiration, Pinterest has a great page dedicated to balustrade designs. It is worth noting that if you do plan on having customised balustrades, they will still need to meet building regulations.

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Choosing the right commercial balustrades

If they are going to be installed in a commercial property, you need to take into account the safety of the system as it will need to meet specific safety requirements.

This includes those outlined for balustrades in section K (protection from falling, collision and impact) of The Buildings Regulation 2010 Act. There are also a number of BSI standards that will apply to their installation in commercial premises, including the following:

1. BS6180 2011 – Code of practice for barriers in and about building

2. BS EN 12600 – Glass in building. Pendulum test. Impact test method and classification for flat glass

3. BS6206 1982 – Code of practice for the glazing for buildings

4. BS6399- Loading for buildings-all parts

This is especially true if your property has high levels of daily traffic.

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In terms of design, you’ll find architectural glass balustrades a good choice. Architectural glass looks modern, stylish and elegant. It’s often used in shopping centres and government buildings. It is versatile and can be custom made to fit your building’s requirements.

Smart glass is a particularly innovative option to consider. It is designed to block out ultraviolet rays and will produce a beautiful look as the light shines off the glass.

Choosing a material

As each material has different properties associated with it, each will require different levels of maintenance. Aluminium for example, is a strong, highly durable material that has a good resistance to corrosion, even when untreated. Aluminium balustrades are often powder coated too, creating a harder finish than that offered by traditional paint. This makes them an ideal choice for the exterior of a commercial or domestic property, since this material will be resistant to all types of weather conditions.

While glass is often seen to be a fragile material, the glass used in balustrades is often toughened so that it can withstand greater loads.

While balustrades in both materials will be susceptible to a build up of dirt and grime, the option of self-cleaning glass balustrades could make these a lower maintenance option for homeowners.

As for maintenance, in order to ensure that the powder coating on aluminium balustrades doesn’t deteriorate, these will need to be cleaned on a regular basis using mild soapy detergent and warm water. In contrast, non-self cleaning glass balustrades will only need to be washed down with soap and warm water as smears, hand prints and more need to be addressed.

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Picking a good supplier

Choosing the best balustrade systems supplier is just as important as choosing the type of balustrade you need. If you opt for an unreliable supplier, you could end up with unsafe, poor quality balustrades. Some of the things to look out for when choosing a supplier in the UK include:

1. Company credentials – This can include membership of recognised industry organisations such as the British Stainless Steel Association and testimonials from past customers

2. A dedicated customer support team

3. An in depth, and free, quote of works to be carried out

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A reputable balustrade systems supplier will have a number of skilled staff members on their team helping to deliver a bespoke balustrade solution perfectly suited to your needs.

This will include:

1. Surveyors: Surveying the site and providing accurate measurements and other technical details needed for the manufacture of your balustrades

2. Draftsmen: Bringing your balustrade design to life in the form of 3D drawings using the most up-to-the-minute technology

3. Installers: In-house balustrade installers will ensure that installations meet the same high-quality time and time again

Balustrade systems come in many different forms. They are ideal for commercial buildings and family homes. Always take your time to research the different options available and be sure to check with building regulations before having balustrades installed in the home. It is important that you take more than just the cost into account when choosing a supplier.

Francesca Holmes is a freelance writer who often writes on home improvement topics.

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4 Comments

  1. I will have to see about getting some installed in my father in law’s house to help him get up and down the stirs a little easier. Hopefully it will not be too hard to get them installed and that they will be strong enough to support his weight. I will have to see about getting someone to come out and look at the site themselves.

  2. My wife and I have been thinking about getting some new balustrades for our house, but we weren’t sure how to choose the right ones. I really like that you say that aluminum is actually highly durable. It would be nice to know that you will be able to keep your railing for a while after it’s installed.

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