Read more about Balustrades:
- What are balustrades?
- Steel Balustrades
- Tensile Wire
- Wrought Iron
- Timber Balustrades
- Glass Balustrades
- Uses & Manufacture
What are balustrades
Typically a form of a railing, a balustrade is commonly used for safety in
homes and offices. Yet besides being a safety feature balustrades have long
been created as a thing of beauty, adorning their space and often standing
out as works of art.
Of course their most important aspect, as mentioned above is their
security potential – after all one cant install a balustrade that someone
will fall through with little effort and even the most beautifully crafted
balustrades must be strong, durable, reliable and last the distance.
A lot of their security features has to do with the materials used in their
construction. It’s obvious that while a material such as aluminium would be
easy to craft and meld into intricate patterns, it simply wont provide the
safety needed, its too flimsy. This is why most balustrades we see today are
crafted from wood, steel, wrought or cast iron, tensile wire and even glass.
Because of the nature of their application most balustrades are custom made
to fit the space, and unless you are building a series of identical buildings,
the chances are that most balustrades will be a unique feature, designed and
crafted not only to fit the space, but also fit the theme of their surroundings.
After all a high-tech tensile wire and stainless balustrade would look out of
place in a Victorian period home as much as a hand tooled old fashioned wood
balustrade would look out of place in say a high-tech office block.
They must look good, blend into and enhance or compliment their surroundings
and be strong.
YSteel balustrades are reliable and can be extremely beautiful. Steel can
be shaped or cut into a variety of shapes or designs and when polished can
fit into either a high-tech environment or when down skilfully, can compliment
a contemporary setting, even rustic. They can be as simple and straightforward
as you want or as elaborate as you want, it’s your choice and your budget.
The beauty with steel is that is can be painted, galvanised, powder coated or
scored in order to create a rough, modern finish.
A fairly new innovation, this style balustrade is perhaps better suited
for areas that do not require high levels of safety. Generally their
construction consists of nothing more that few line of wire run horizontally
between two supports and then winched tight. This leaves fairly large open
gaps between them and if you are standing on a 10th floor building, perhaps
they are best avoided.
However, there is a use and need for these balustrades, and once installed
can give a very minimal, modern look, high-tech finish to a space.
Wrought iron balustrades offer many options and can also be tooled into
intricate, thought provoking styles and shapes. Usually considered quite
rustic, wrought iron balustrades are able to fit into many décor schemes
perfectly and their natural colouring has an appeal of its own.
Timeless beauty and elegance, timber balustrades over time can become a much sought
after item to have. Whether you are after a straight up and down pole or a hand carved
frieze, timber will definitely increase the value of your home both aesthetically and
in terms of financial gain.
Timber is versatile, easily tooled and can be left in its natural state (which should be encouraged if you
are using an exotic or beautiful wood), stained or painted.
It is unfortunate that the use of timber has lessened, but perhaps people’s awareness
of the environment makes up for this loss. In its place many suppliers offer timber look-a-likes
in the form of polymers which are economical, look great and can also be crafted into interesting designs.
A fairly new idea, glass balustrades are for many the number one option when a view is at stake.
A glass balustrade can shape the look of any staircase or patio and is one material that can withstand
the elements with ease. Of course glass used in this construction is not your normal window glass;
this is glass that has been toughened exponentially in order to ensure safety.
The illusion of space a glass balustrade will give you is extraordinary compared to their denser
counterparts, glass balustrades will not block our light or a view, or you could elect for acid
etched designs or sandblasted or tinted finishes which still allow light through, although somewhat filtered.
While possibly one of the most intriguing if not aesthetically pleasing choice in a balustrade, glass
does come with a price. Glass by its natures is capable of shattering or chipping which can lead to
potentially serious injuries or damage to property. For this reason the glass used in their manufacture
has to go through a process of toughening and strengthening in order to cope with everyday use and wear.
Talking about wear and tear, glass is not a great idea for high traffic areas, and is capable of giving
those who have to clean it a great big headache. Glass shows the dirt really quickly and as their main
feature is the clear vision they aim to provide, it is imperative that they remain sparkly clean at all times.
Uses & Manufacture
While it is usual for balustrades and their handrails to be constructed from the same materials it is not
unusual that they aren’t. For instance many balustrades today can be seen teamed with materials such as
stone or plaster and even marble, even a mixture of wood, steel and other man-made or natural materials.
The sky is the limit!
The materials used in design and manufacture should take into account where the balustrade will be placed
as some materials just wont wear well outdoors while other materials are impervious to the elements, take
galvanised steel vs. timber for instance.
The most common shapes seen in balustrades is geometric, yet with most materials it is easy to curve
shapes to suit your need and space, but this does have an effect on price.
Designing a balustrade leaves plenty of room for imagination, and while some take the form of a series
of straight up and down pillars, other comprise intricate cut out motifs that are welded together to
form a story, or hand carved majestic wood that speak of past eras. Whether you choice is geometric or
more creative, your design will need to depend on the design and architecture of your building, while
a borderless sheer glass façade may suit a particular setting, it may not suit lets say a rustic home
set in the countryside.
A balustrade is not something most of us dwell on, yet the absence of one is instantly noticeable. If
you follow some simple rules in your design and safety selection, you will have a fitting that will
last as you need it.