When it comes to designing barriers for buildings, whether residential or commercial, safety and aesthetic considerations oftentimes go hand in hand. This is especially true for the more contemporary high-rise buildings. Stringent regulatory measures and practices have been put in place through state laws, when it comes to reducing the risk of someone falling from a height. This is a risk both within the building and on its exterior. In fact, any opening in an establishment that allows for someone to fall one metre or more, is in dire need of a barrier. “Falling” here does not only refer to a perpendicular vertical change in position; it refers to any rapid descent to a lower level — even down a slope.
Exterior balustrades can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, depending on their location on your property, your personal taste and even style. Many materials ranging, from glass to stainless steel, have been used in the making of balustrades over the years. These are particularly prevalent in buildings that need more elegant options when it comes to barriers. However, even wrought iron is a material worth considering when it comes to balustrades, especially if you are going for a more rugged appearance for your building.
But how does one decide on what sizes to go for when thinking of balustrades for their balconies, swimming pools or even walkways? What options are available in the market? What considerations should be made when choosing the appropriate size for their needs?
Legally, regulations have been placed depending on where the balustrade is located. For interiors, a height of 0.9 metres from datum is deemed appropriate. This means that the top of the balustrade must be at least 0.9 metres in height from the point someone can stand on. Exterior balustrades are to be at least 1.1 metres in height. These include balustrades being used on balconies and terraces of the building. For staircases, the hand rails should be at least 0.9 metres from datum, whether they are located within the building or outside the building.
These measurements are standard procedure for any authentic company that manufactures balustrades. Any proprietor that is found to have not adhered to these regulations is liable to face sanctions as dictated by the state laws. Other measurements worth noting are the size of the handrails and the thickness of wire and glass fill ins. The recommended size for handrails is a diameter 42.2mm. However, sizes up to 48.3mm are available in the market. This is to allow for easy gripping of the handrail.
If you are using a stainless-steel balustrade, various fill ins can be used to enhance your barrier. Whether you are going for the more functional wire or the more aesthetic glass fill in, some standard sizes and guidelines can help you decide what would be better suited for your needs. When it comes to wire fill ins, most people resort to using 5 rows of 4mm wire between posts. Glass fill ins have also become a staple for contemporary real estate establishments all over Australia. 10mm toughened glass is usually the go-to when it comes to glass balustrades. Alternatives to this includes 21.5mm laminated glass. The standard post to post length for glass fill ins is 1.2 metres. However, lengths of up to 1.5 metres can be obtained and used, depending on your specifications as a homeowner or a commercial proprietor.
At the end of the day, factors worth considering when designing exterior balustrades for your residence or commercial premises are not just restricted to the aesthetics and functionality. The legal component is also of utmost importance. Not only do you want your building to be safe and beautiful, but adherent to regulations as well. If you are in doubt about the designing and installation exterior balustrades, contact an expert in balustrade manufacture, as well as your local state authorities for advice.