A Beginner’s Guide to a Balustrade System
Balustrade systems are more common than you think. You will come across them day after day in all kinds of situations too, both internally and externally.
For many people, they don’t really examine a balustrade system until they need to make a decision about what to use to create a barrier and handrail on staircases, balconies, decking and so on.
What is a balustrade system?
It is a system that provides a safe barrier, as well as a handrail to grasp. It can be used internally or externally and can be created using a variety and combination of different materials.
A balustrade is a name given to the small ‘legs’ or ‘sticks’ that you would commonly see in a staircase in which the handrail is supported by these individual sticks, all in a row.
The name is also used to describe the glass panels used in balcony balustrades and edging as they essentially perform the same function.
Creating a balustrade system
If you have decided to opt for glass panels, you are joining a growing number of people that are opting for the modern, minimalist of glass, metal and, in some cases, the use of wood too. Creating your own system is not difficult but there are factors to bear in mind;
#1 Overall dimensions and length
First and foremost, you will need to start by drawing a detailed floor plan on the edge along which you need the balustrade to run.
This needs to be accurate as within this space, you will need to ensure you fit the right number of glass panels, held in place by the correct number of posts and various clamps and so on.
If the edge is one straight run, then planning it is not too difficult but, if there are twists and turns this will take more planning. It is important to get it accurate as the balustrade will rely on all the components working together so that the whole balustrade has the strength that it needs.
#2 Number of posts
Once you are confident you have the dimensions and measurements correct, you will now need to work out the number of posts.
We suggest doing this by marking the posts on your diagram. For example, if you have a few stairs leading up on the decking space where your balustrade will be, you may need some posts here. You will also need a post in any corner that are in the design too.
You will a post approximately every metre along the edge as most glass panels that people opt for are around a metre in length. However, it is prudent to check the measurements of the glass panels you intend using and how much of a gap is to be left between panel and post to allow for clamps and fixings.
#3 Clamps and fixings
On your floor plan, you now have the positioning of the posts and the glass panels. You now need to determine how many clamps you need and what kind you need too.
Depending on the glass panel size, you will most certainly need a minimum of four fixings per panel, located near the four corners of the panel. The larger the panel, the more clamps you may need.
For example, larger panels will need an extra clamp in the middle of the top and bottom, and you may also want an extra fixing down the sides. Many people assume that the strength of balustrade systems lie in the fixings but this is not the case.
The balustrade is a long link and when one part of it is weak, the whole structure is weak. Components being placed in the right places with the right amount of force on each part of it will ensure it remains in place and is strong too.
#4 Final choices
Once you have an idea of the basic structure and clamps needed etc., you can now pay attention to the overall design. The use of glass in and outside the home has many benefits.
Clamps and fixings can be available in brushed or gloss aluminium, and some of the clamps can also come rounded or square in shape. In some balustrade designs, it is the customer’s choice as to what and how they want certain components to look but when the design is more complex, you may find that you have to have some components for strength and structural integrity.
Balustrade systems are a great way of providing a barrier in the home or in the garden. How will you design yours?