METAL BALUSTRADE TYPES
Other than glass balustrade solutions, there are a number of metal based balustrade options which are also popular. Mainly vertical bar, perforate/mesh panel, and solid panel balustrades.
Vertical Bar Balustrade
Historically, vertical bar balustrade solutions were chosen as a cheap way of providing a guarding which wasn’t easy for children to climb. With the cost of glass significantly being reduced, this became a less common choice.
More recently vertical bar balustrade options are being used to create distinction and architectural style. Rather than the industrial roadside railing look, with main posts and infill panels between, We have created a solution which enables individual fixing of bars to avoid vertical bar infill panels and to allow a consistent uninterrupted flow.
Key features for end users are both kick plates and sloped handrails to prevent objects falling to balconies or paths below. Both of these are now recommended within BS 8579.
When specifying vertical bar balustrade systems, the first design consideration is what the upright should be. With vertical bars, there are essentially two choices; rectangular sections or round bars.
Rectangular sections make installing a fascia a very much simpler task. They are typically formed using extruded aluminium which makes them lightweight and cost-effective. On the other hand, round bars have to be made from solid bars to be able to withstand the required loads, which can make them quite a bit more costly.
With vertical bar balustrade there are also two Fascia options, which are essentially with or without. Without a fascia the vertical bars continue down in front of the cassette, it is slightly more cost effective but is also specified as a design choice.
Perforated balustrades have become more common as laminated glass has become banned under the Combustible Cladding Ban. Perforation designs are laser cut from an aluminium sheet which is the powder-coated. While simple, repetitive and standard patterns can be a cost-effective balustrade solution, it can also be a very expensive choice on smaller schemes or where there is a significant number of different sizes or patterns of perforated designs on the various balconies. It is also important to make sure patterns aren't climbable (Part K and BS 6180).
Solid Wall Balustrade
Solid walls are typically used as either part of the architectural style of the building façade, or as a way of obtaining some privacy. Solid walls or “End Boxes” as they are often called, are made from a similar construction to the Cassette® skeleton, from a structural framework, clad with a coated aluminium cladding.
The thicknesses of these boxes can vary according to aesthetic preferences. Some clients have chosen to have the deeper with decking continuing up the inside whereas others choose to have a thin box clad entirely in powder coated aluminium.
After wind-protection, privacy is the next biggest consideration for end-user balcony usability. Especially on large balconies spanning multiple apartments, privacy screens are often a key requirement. In particular, when it comes to terraces, continuous balconies or projecting balconies which have access from differing apartments. Separating these with a degree of privacy for both occupants is important.
Dividing balconies can be done in a variety of ways, from using fins or other architectural façade features, or by using screens. Creating a privacy screen can be done relatively simply by using standard concepts used for balustrades. The slightly more difficult part to get right, is how these fit with the overall aesthetic tone of the balconies, and the building façade. The most common types would be frosted glass (pre-ban) or solid panel.
It’s also important to note that if privacy screens are designed purely as dividing screens and don’t provide privacy, it is likely that occupants may decide to create the privacy themselves, turning to internet privacy screens, many of which are highly combustible and may increase fire risk without the resident even realising.