Most of the time building contractors decide about balcony railings at the last moment while constructing apartments, condos, or any other multi-family residential buildings. Usually, more attention goes on painting of the walls, as compared to this very important safety feature. Therefore, balcony railings will have more history of maintenance, sometimes even on the very day when apartment was opened.
You can hear complaints about porch railing that starts from improper painting to rusting welds and the list goes. In fact, had they selected the right material for the railing, there would not be a need for painting too.
An overview of different options
For understanding about the best choice for the balcony railing material, we must know what are the options available for materials and what are their pros and cons. Wood cannot even be considered here as an option, as we know it will rot after few years. For any large residential complexes, the options are usually among different metals.
Let us see what are the various plus points of aluminum as porch railingmaterial. It is a light-weight material having excellent structural properties because of its weight. Due to its lightness it can be a good choice. Also, it has a very sleek appearance and can easily be painted or anodized to match with the surroundings and it is easy to maintain.
Unfortunately, often many contractors have used aluminum as balcony railing in the buildings, which are located near the coast, because of mistaken belief that aluminum will never corrode. However, when they were installed along with steel fasteners, it was found to be starting the galvanic corrosion process in a high-salt environment.
Stainless steel can possibly be the best material choice for any kind of outdoor environment. Its chromium forms an invisible and rust-proof chromium oxide layer that prevents corroding, in any harsh conditions. However, due to following reasons they are not preferred:
- It is quite difficult to produce stainless steel than any regular steel
- It is much more expensive
- In certain situations, stainless steel is much weaker than steel
- It is quite difficult to work, and very impractical material for using as balcony railings
Steel is the most versatile material and hence it is also most commonly used for balcony railings, particularly for any large complexes with number of units. It is much stronger than aluminum, though it weighs more. It is also much inexpensive and easily workable. Only disadvantage is the rusting, which also can be addressed in number of ways.
Glass railings are relatively a new development. Nowadays, people are using tempered glass panes and also balusters, which are suspended by using clamps or any posts, or by enclosing them within a frame made of either aluminum or steel. The long-term use of such use of glass will be known after few years, however people are liking them, as it has another advantage of opening up views because they are transparent.