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Balcony Railing Project

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  • Balcony Railing Project

    I need to build a bunch of balcony railings for a property i'm a partner in. problem is, i have never built a balcony railing nore do i have an artistic bone in my body. i have looked online and found a lot of neat stuff, unfortunately i have to do them on the cheap, so the money i spend will go into simple but strong railings. The building is old, over 100 years, so i would like to make something that doesn't look to modern. Do any of you guys know where i can find design ideas? Right now i'm thinking just a top and bottom rail with square uprights (i said i wasn't very artistic!). What is a good spacing for the uprights? i see 4-5" in some drawings. What size/gauge should i be using? They will be around 6-8 feet long and anchor to columns or 6x6 posts. Should i put mounting plates to the decking? I will have to build them to size and truck them almost 400 miles so a mounting system that offers some adjustment would be great. Any input is appreciated!

  • #2
    Originally posted by Laiky View Post
    What is a good spacing for the uprights?
    there is no "good" spacing only "Code" spacing

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Broccoli1 View Post
      there is no "good" spacing only "Code" spacing
      What he said. Handrails are a big deal in most places and the local building codes will stipulate the "requirements". You should start there before you do anything IMHO.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Broccoli1 View Post
        there is no "good" spacing only "Code" spacing
        Ed speaks the truth.

        If you really want to get technical, you should also find out about the required minimum height for the top of the railing. If you are doing any handrails, you need to be aware of not only the shape of the handrail, but also the height as it relates to any stairs, and finally the details of any returns. Quite often, the handrail need to return so as not to leave protrusions for clothing to catch on (in an emergency egress situation).

        It all depends on the code requirements in your area... and the inspector(s), if any.

        Keep the design simple and build it well. Building something with thought and care will often lend enough to the design in and of itself.

        Comment


        • #5
          beyond meeting the code...

          check out king metals (http://www.kingmetals.com)
          or architectural iron designs (http://www.archirondesign.com)
          for ideas -- they have pretty extensive on line catalogs with
          lots of pictures.

          f

          Comment


          • #6
            Thank you all for your input, i will follow up with my partner who lives in the area. Then i'm sure i will have more questions. I will also try to find the pictures of the existing balcony railings. My biggest hurdle is that the property is almost 400 miles away, and i have a day job

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            • #7
              also keep in mind that there are sometimes a minimum horizontal load at a specificed height that it must withstand.

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              • #8
                a pic of the junk that needs replacing. I intended to make the new ones higher and anchor them better, those rickety columns aren't structural, and may be replaced with 6x6, not sure yet.
                Attached Files

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                • #9
                  To my knowledge most local codes have adopted the ADA standards.
                  They the ADA standards are a good place to start any way.

                  Found at http://www.ada.gov/reg3a.html


                  Generally it must pass the 4" ball test must be 42" tall and withstand minimum force of 200lbs lateral force applied to the top edge.

                  Generally one must know a bunch of stuff to make a proper guard rail

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    railings and codes

                    The first place to go is the place you get a building permit from, i.e. the place with jurisdiction over what you will build (many local libraries have copies of codes for free inspection). Each municipality usually adopts the basic code as noted above, 4", etc. but some opt for more restrictive rules. To further muddy the water, there are places with NO codes, but then there is the National code.

                    Know the rules before you start. Do NOT assume anything or let anyone tell you that "x" is ok! Pay for a copy of that portion of the code applicable to your project and KEEP IT!

                    None of this really matters until someone gets hurt!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Codes

                      Originally posted by jallcorn View Post
                      The first place to go is the place you get a building permit from, i.e. the place with jurisdiction over what you will build (many local libraries have copies of codes for free inspection). Each municipality usually adopts the basic code as noted above, 4", etc. but some opt for more restrictive rules. To further muddy the water, there are places with NO codes, but then there is the National code.

                      Know the rules before you start. Do NOT assume anything or let anyone tell you that "x" is ok! Pay for a copy of that portion of the code applicable to your project and KEEP IT!

                      None of this really matters until someone gets hurt!
                      What he says ond one thing more. If I have ANY question about a job that seems to deviate or conflict with code, I go directly to the building inspector for clarification. It may take a little more time, but there is no tearing out and re-doing later.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Thanks for all the advice. I will do my research before i do anything else. Unfortunately contract negotiations are going south so i won't be spending a penny until it gets sorted out.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Here's a place to start for ideas...

                          http://www.artisticironworks.com/dbrail.html

                          FATFAB hit the nail on the head.

                          The International Building Code requires railings to be 36 or 42 inches high... 36 for residential (as in single family residence) and 42 for commercial. An apartment complex is generally considered commercial. It appears that the existing rails are only 36 though. Hard to tell because I'm judging scale from the guy at the bottom.

                          No opening should be wider than 4".

                          The fuzzy part is that the rails have to withstand a concentrated load of 200 lb applied. That's a pretty long span across those columns for slender tubing to withstand 200 lb applied at the middle without excessive deflection.

                          Whatever IBC says... Whatever NYC has adopted from it, the ultimate test is whether the building inspector likes it and likes you. Sometimes they don't even look at it. NYC Department of Buildings even says on their website:

                          "Difficulties in understanding the Code has led to confusion, inconsistency, delays, and added cost for construction within New York City.

                          Lack of clarity within the Code and the need for various types of review leads to increased corruption hazards."

                          They pretty much tell you to have cash ready when the inspector comes.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            This might be too obvious but... search Google Images with a simple query of "balcony railings"

                            I got some nice pics at the link below since I recently considered a similar project:

                            http://images.google.com/images?gbv=...ilings&spell=1

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Bodybagger-
                              I don't think the existing railings are 30" high! Luckily for me it's not in NYC. Actually it's close to canada. From what i understand, there aren't many codes or inspections that take place up there. I have no intentions of building anything shoddy or questionable. I take any safety related thing i do very seriously. I will likely build a test railing first and determine fit and strength based on that, the columns are likely to be replaced. Maybe with 6x6 or 4x4 with an outer decorative cover. Either way the attachemnet method will be robust and i can also screw feet into the decking for verticle loads.

                              Comment

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