The hunt for the perfect balustrade for your project can be overwhelming, with pros and cons depending on the budget, scale and aesthetics you want to achieve..
Whether you’re looking to choose your metal balustrade based on its strength (steel balustrades) or its lightweight properties (aluminium balustrades) , we have all the information you’ll be needing to make an informed decision that fits both yours and your client’s needs.
Building regulations on balustrades outline that any material can be used, provided it can stop people and/ or pets falling, by resisting force and pressure. Whilst we know that not any material can be used, (paper wouldn’t hold up particularly well as a balustrade!), it is important to have access to and understand all of the information before you make your decision.
With the main function of balustrades being both privacy and safety, they must meet certain requirements when used in both private family homes, residential areas and public spaces. But if both steel and aluminium fit the legal requirements, how do you choose between the two based on what is best for you?
The Strong Balustrade Option: Steel
Steel means strength… right?
As you will well know, the amount of carbon in steel makes in unyielding, a core requirement for a balustrade. People will always assume a balcony, banister or handrail is strong enough to hold them, so what better material to use than the unyielding steel?
· Stainless steel does not bend, with a high tensile strength able to handle 50,000-100,000 pounds per square inch.
· Steel has very low maintenance costs, with its high resistance to corrosion and easy to wipe surfaces, once in place your balustrade will remain aesthetically intact for a long time.
· Steel is an easy material to handle in the construction process too, with no special requirements to worry about on site
However, whilst steel’s strength is telling, it can often add up in both material price and the equipment needed to transport it, thanks to its sheer density and weight.
It’s also important to note that that current global steel shortage isn’t helping the case for steel. Experts claim that the cost of steel has risen by an alarming 200%, as highlighted by fortune.com
This means you’ll be paying more and waiting longer if you specify steel as your core material for your balustrade.
So, let’s look at steel’s lighter counterpart, aluminium, and see how it weighs up against the unyielding and tough steel.
The Lightweight Balustrade Option: Aluminium
If steel is the strongest option available, you may be wondering why would anyone opt for anything else in their construction project. However, aluminium possesses some convincing properties to consider when making your decision for your balustrade.
· Compared to steel, aluminium is cheap and easy to extrude. As a result, bespoke designs to fit your needs can be easily and efficiently created.
· With its ability to be anodised, you can not only customise your balustrades in an array of colours, but you can even create the appearance of sleek stainless steel without the cost.
· Like steel, aluminium is highly resistant to corrosion. Paired with a low-cost initial purchase and minimal maintenance, it is much easier to keep your budget down.
· In case of a fire, aluminium has the capacity to ‘heat sink’ rather than reflect heat, keeping the area above it cooler during the first 30 minutes of a fire, an essential period for escape.
· Aluminium is only a third of the density of steel, resulting in a more lightweight balustrade structure.
But how do lightweight aluminium balustrades help you?
The lighter the balcony and the stronger the anchors: the fewer connections you need. With fewer connections in an aluminium frame, the total weight is under half of that of its steel counterpart. Your project can be increasingly cost effective, whilst still maintaining and reassuring the fundamental safety standards required.
HJA Fabrications manufacture and supply made-to-measure aluminium balustrades for any of your requirements.
Check out our product page here.
Contact Us for more information and find out how we can help with your architectural fabrications.