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Balcony Railing Project

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  • Laiky
    started a topic Balcony Railing Project

    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!

  • Bodybagger
    replied
    Consider steel columns and wood rails?

    I designed and built a 2 story deck a few years back that reminds me of your situation. It was a complete rehab of a failing deck. But I did the opposite - used steel for the columns and wood for the railing. Columns were continuous HSS 4"x4"x1/8" sq tubing with brackets and connecting hardware welded off site... columns were installed first and everything was bolted or nailed into place. Even the handrails were all identical - made on the ground and bolted into place.

    It was a LOT cheaper to do wood rails.

    Everything was 10 feet on center, like your columns.
    BTW rails are 42 even though it is single family residential... it's a long way to fall!





    Attached Files
    Last edited by Bodybagger; 09-23-2008, 10:02 PM.

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  • Laiky
    replied
    Thanks again, i'm taking notes!

    Is there any restriction on making the railings in 2 pieces (left and right) and bolting them together? not sure yet how i'm going to ship 8'-10' sections, if it comes to that

    Leave a comment:


  • albertawelder
    replied
    I worked at a shop specializing in gates, railings, etc. We would use 2x1 tubing for the hand rail, 1/2"x1/2" square tubing for spindles, 1/2x1/4 flatbar for the sub-rail, 1x1 or 1 1/4x1 1/4 square tubing for posts, and on the end of the square tubing where the rail attaches to the column we would weld a piece of 2" x 1/4" flatbar (tabs) maybe 4" long with two holes drilled in it to attch using screws, on the sub-rail a 1" piece. the type of screws depends on the material you are attaching to. Any span of more than about 6' requires a post to be welded in the center of the length, so if you had a 10' railing you would want a post of 1x1 or 1 1/4x 1 1/4 in the center with a pience of flat bar on the bottom with to holes for attaching to the deck. This can go underneath the 2x1 handrail for a nice finish (a 10' piece of 2x1 with the post welded in the center. Also, in most cases the maximum distance from the sub-rail to the floor or decking is 3".

    And ...as bodybagger mentioned the 36",42"and4" are important. The 4"is the max space between spindles so remember this when calculating your spacing. If your spacing for the 1/2 x 1/2 is exactly 4" or anything less you will only have about 3"-31/2" between spindles and this can look to small. Just never go more than 4" on the spindles and never lower than 36" on the height. For the particular job your doing its a good idea to check code and see if it requres 42". In the end you have to tack everything up and take a step back to look and see if it looks right. This is the tricky part. If you se a design similar to the one i mentioned, and you weld all joints completely with solid mig welds strength will not be a problem.

    One last point, if welding long sections it's a good idea to brace the top (2x1 for instace) by clamping a piece of thick angle iron of whatever you have. The whole thing will want to warp when you weld it and it can become a real pain to bend back into shape. This should help keep it straight.

    Good luck

    Leave a comment:


  • SundownIII
    replied
    Laiky,

    Good advice with regards to meeting local building codes.

    The only thing I've got to add, after seeing the scope of said project. It isn't going to be CHEAP no matter how you go. With the price of steel today, that project will cost twice what it would have 18mos ago.

    Good luck.

    Leave a comment:


  • Laiky
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • Johnny
    replied
    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

    Leave a comment:


  • Bodybagger
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • Laiky
    replied
    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.

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  • mikeswelding
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • jallcorn
    replied
    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!

    Leave a comment:


  • FATFAB
    replied
    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

    Leave a comment:


  • Laiky
    replied
    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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  • NAS-NAS
    replied
    also keep in mind that there are sometimes a minimum horizontal load at a specificed height that it must withstand.

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  • Laiky
    replied
    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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