Balustrades serve two important functions, which are that of providing safety and adding aesthetic value. As a result, there is no guarantee that what works beautifully in one home will be a good fit in another. Applicability varies in relation to both functions.
To avoid making costly mistakes by investing in the wrong type of balustrade, we will be taking a closer look at all options available and their suitability, in accordance with the needs of the residents and the property itself. Before we get to that though, let’s first take a brief look through the applications and functions.
Why Are Balustrades Essential?
Balustrades serve to add aesthetic value to staircases, but as already mentioned, their prime functionality is that of providing safety on the stairs. The safety requirements are not just optional either, given that the Australian government enforces the need to have balustrades by law.
The requirements which a property owner must fulfil to be in compliance with those regulations, depend entirely on the length between the top surface and the ground, which is being bridged by the staircase in question.
For example, the Building Codes in Australia make it mandatory for all staircases to have a balustrade of one meter or more if the height between the upper and the lower surfaces (deck to ground/floor) is also 1 meter or more.
There are also other building codes which owners and contractors should be well aware of. Examples include:
- Balustrades safeguarding a stairway that’s used to bridge a height of more than 1m cannot have openings exceeding 125mm
- If the height bridged by the staircase exceeds 4m, horizontal rails and other climbable accessories must not be placed 150mm – 760mm from the ground
There are several other requirements which must also be complied with, and you can find out more about them on the official government page. What we gather from them is that balustrades are not just a precaution or an aesthetic accessory, but they are very much a necessity by law.
Wrought Iron Balustrade
These are are stylish, customisable and, contrary to what most of us might be used to seeing, can easily be painted in a range of other hues than just black or grey. As far as maintenance is concerned, a wrought iron balustrade will hardly need to be cleaned on a regular basis like a glass balustrade would need to be.
Despite all advantages and the sturdiness which quality wrought iron provides by default, there is a chance that you will have to deal with rusting fences at some point in time. Nevertheless, with proper sealing on a consistent basis, wrought iron balustrades can provide customised aesthetics and sound safety to any staircase for a long time.
Thanks to modern technology and toughened, reinforced glass, there is hardly any other type that can match glass balustrades in terms of durability, aesthetic appeal and practicality. Glass doesn’t rust or break without significant force, but there is just one complaint which comes naturally with anything that has been made from glass; they do require regular cleaning, or glass balustrades might begin to look displeasing to the eye.
On the other hand, if you pick a glass balustrade from Majestic Stairs, they can easily mitigate this common issue. By laminating the glass surface with reinforced, stainless steel/timber handrails, it is possible to reduce the glass’s net surface area and consequently, the balustrade’s daily maintenance needs quite significantly.
Go through the site and see how they have transcended barriers in between the different types of balustrades by ingeniously combining multiple materials and creating hybrid balustrades that simultaneously incorporate timber, stainless steel and glass.
Timber or wooden balustrades are difficult to beat, as far as classic charm is concerned. If you have rustic décor or even a contemporary home design, where wood plays a big role in creating the theme in question, timber is the perfect choice.
The problem with wood is that it is the most vulnerable material used in balustrade manufacturing today. Irrespective of the quality and the sealing, wood is biomatter which will rot away eventually.
It’s best to combine timber with glass balustrade for the most aesthetic and practical effect. Rotten planks can be easily changed when needed, as the support in such hybrids is usually provided by stainless steel or at lower heights, the glass itself.
Stainless Steel Balustrade
Stainless steel is one of the strongest construction materials in existence, but it too can rust, given that steel is an alloy of iron. However, that is unlikely to happen anytime soon, and it is probably not going to happen even in the foreseeable future, as long as there is even moderate maintenance.
For the most part, a pure steel balustrade, or a glass balustrade that has been reinforced with stainless steel for maximum protection, are among the sturdiest options one can choose.
Steel balustrades, in general, find themselves at home when surrounded by contemporary interior/exterior décor. Minimising the amount of visible steel in a balustrade’s construction can also provide outstandingly beautiful results, without sacrificing on the durability and strength which comes with stainless steel.
Hybrid stainless steel and glass balustrade is the default choice for all high-rise buildings, due to the necessity for providing the strongest possible balustrades in them.
Although aluminium was not mentioned as one of the options, it is most certainly one that you can opt for. The problem with aluminium is that it is chemically a soft metal which doesn’t rust, but oxidises all the same.
The oxidised upper layer will often act as a protective casing for the main metal underneath, which would have been sufficient for any other purpose than balustrades. The handrail surface would not be suitable for grabbing after it becomes oxidised in places.
Sealing and colouring on a regular basis will prevent such effects to some degree, but wrought iron might still be a better choice for anyone willing to invest into longevity and quality.