Balcony railing steel

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What's the Best Material for Balcony Railings?

A balcony railing not only functions as an important safety feature in our homes but, with the right design and material, can aesthetically change the look and feel of the house facade. Factors like the overall design of the home (traditional or modern), along with the railing’s resistance to external weather conditions, play a key role in deciding the most suitable material for the railing design. With so many materials on offer, such as metal, glass, wood and concrete, which material is most suitable for balcony railings and why?

1. SS (stainless steel)
SS is one of the premium materials used for balcony railings that can give the balcony a high-end modern look.

  • SS is a strong material, it is maintenance-free and does not require any painting once installed.
  • SS comprises a rust-proof layer of chromium oxide over the steel, which prevents the railing from corroding even in harsh climatic conditions.
  • It can be easily customised into any design.
  • One can achieve a flawless finish in SS; it effortlessly gives a sleek look to the balcony, just as in this example.
  • SS railings are very expensive compared to other metals that are used to fabricate balcony railings.
Take a look at stainless steel balcony railing images
2. MS (mild steel)
MS railings are most commonly used for the balconies of condominiums, apartments and residential complexes. These railings give a polished look to the balcony.

  • MS is a very strong and durable material.
  • The metal is malleable and easy to work with.
  • These railings can be easily painted in any colour to match the colour of the building exteriors. However, the most commonly used colours are black, grey and off-white.
  • MS is very easy to maintain; routine cleaning involves wiping the railing with a damp cloth.
  • One can achieve both simple straight-line designs as well as ornamental designs in MS.
  • These railings are budget-friendly and comparatively less expensive than SS railings.
  • MS has the tendency to rust when exposed to external weather conditions. Hence, these railings should be periodically painted to create a protective coating that prevents MS from rusting.
3. Aluminium
Aluminium is a strong, lightweight and affordable material. Aluminium railings give a modern look to the home. They are powder-coated in finishes such as matte, gloss or satin. The powder coating imparts an attractive look to the railings and does not discolour, corrode or peel easily.

  • Aluminium is a highly durable material and is highly resistant to harsh weather conditions.
  • Various designs are achieved with the sleek sections of aluminium and can be powder-coated in various colours.
  • Aluminium railings are easy to maintain and only need to be wiped with a damp cloth.
  • Aluminium railings are resistant to rust and do not swell or crack when exposed to heat.
  • Aluminium railings have a tendency to corrode and discolour due to oxidation in the presence of salt-laden air. So, avoid using aluminium railings in the coastal areas.
Find specialty contractors to fabricate your balcony railings
4. Glass
Break away from conventional railings and opt for glass railings, especially if your balcony opens to picturesque views such as the mountains or the sea. Glass railings are tempered glass panels that are suspended within a metal frame. One can also go with a frameless glass installation topped with a simple metal handrail, as in this example.

  • Glass railings give a modern, high-end look to the home.
  • They bring in a sense of transparency and open up views of the surroundings, thus making the balcony look bigger.
  • The glass panels also work as windbreaks.
  • Glass railing panels need to be cleaned regularly.
  • Glass is susceptible to scratches.
See these photos of gorgeous railings for the balcony
5. Wood
Wooden railings add softness and bring in an element of warmth into the balcony. But when it comes to safety, especially in high-rise buildings, it is strongly recommended to go for only metal railings because they are more sturdy. However, one could always combine wood as an infill panel within SS or MS railings.

  • These railings can be fabricated in various types of wood and can be finished in different colours.
  • Wooden railings complement both modern as well as traditional homes.
  • Wood has the tendency to rot and get attacked by termites.
  • Wood may splinter over a period of time.
  • Wooden railings require a lot of maintenance in comparison to other railing materials. It needs to be repainted and sealed at least once in two years.
6. Concrete
Concrete is a robust material. These railings, made of concrete, are available in a prefabricated form and are usually installed in low-rise bungalows or villas. Concrete railings are selected so that they match the external facade of the building, just as in the image above.

  • Concrete railings are sturdy.
  • These railings are cost-effective.
  • They are low on maintenance.
  • Not available in many designs.
  • Concrete railings are very heavy.
Find some great balcony design ideas
7. Cast iron and wrought iron railings
If you like the ornate look, then then bring in wrought iron or cast iron railings. Cast iron railings are fabricated by pouring them into a mould while wrought iron is first heated and then worked upon with tools.

  • One can achieve intricate and ornamental designs for the balcony railings in wrought iron and cast iron.
  • The railings can also be painted in rich colours like gold or silver to impart a royal look to the balcony.
    • One has to seal and coat the wrought iron and cast iron railings regularly so that they do not rust.
    • These railings are very expensive and require good workmanship.
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Tell us:
Which railing material will you consider for your balcony? Tell us why in the Comments below.

Metal balcony railings

Balcony railings will highlight your aesthetic sense. It is necessary for safety and at the same time stylish decorative detail for your house or restaurant. Your guest will notice your good taste as interior decorator if you chose modern balustrade rail made of stainless steel or brass. HMH Iron Design offers different variations of balcony railing, like:

  • ornamental wrought iron railings;
  • contemporary stainless steel banisters;
  • transitional brass rail;
  • wood handrails;
  • industrial glass railings.

We can manufacture and install balcony railing which perfectly fit to your main interior style. From classical to modern and high-tech design – our engineers can create unique bespoke element. In collaboration with famous architects we already done all kinds of jobs. From small one of a kind balcony for 1-bedroom studio in Manhattan to big balustrade rails in concert halls and hotels. HMH metal shop located in Brooklyn and has specific equipment to satisfy your needs in production your own stunning design.

We work with aluminum, brass, steel, bronze. Our team can weld it, cut by water-jet, laser or engrave. Also, we are capable to compliment object by crystals, figure decorations, glass, wood, stones. To make it look antique we use patina, satin brush and different types of covers, finishing and coatings. These options you can see on this page. Another popular idea is to apply metal grilles instead of traditional banisters for balcony railing. As a result, it has more advanced and sophisticated look which is really original and stunning.

Metal balcony: high quality

In addition, we advise using same materials, ornaments and finishings to each metal object in your house. Therefore, it makes balcony rail look appropriate to the main design composition. You can apply same material to all railings, cladding, furniture, doors and windows. By using this method, you will create refined whole home view.

Your wish to install high-end custom metal balcony railings made from will be fully satisfied. Call now to get a quote or find out about individual order options.

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The Best Material for Balcony Railings in Residential Complexes

Many apartment managers don’t have a history in construction, and it can get them in trouble in ways that they may not have expected. Balcony railings, for instance, are generally an afterthought for those who manage apartments, condos, or other multi-family residential units. Generally, more attention is paid to the paint on the walls than to these important safety features. As a result, balcony railings end up developing a visible history of maintenance that goes back to the very first day an apartment opened.

Uneven paint? I can tell that management didn’t include priming the railings in their budget. Rusting welds? That tells me that the railings were assembled on-site, and whoever installed them couldn’t be bothered to coat them properly. If I see multiple welds on the same joint, that tells me the railing has failed before, but more importantly, since rusting will continue on the inside, that it will fail again. The best material for balcony railings is one that doesn’t constantly need these half-hearted repairs. In fact, the best material, properly coated, will result in railings that don’t even need painting.

The Best Material for Balcony Railings: An Overview of the Options

To understand the best choice for a balcony railing material, it’s important to know your options, and their strengths and weaknesses. Wood’s drawbacks with rotting and splintering keep it from being a serious contender for anything but single-family homes where the residents can maintain it. For large residential complexes with multiple units, the serious contenders are metals.

  • Aluminum is a lightweight metal with excellent structural properties for its weight. Its lightness makes it a good choice for many purposes, and with careful planning, it makes a great material for balcony railings. Unfortunately, it is often used without care. For instance, it is often found on balconies in buildings along the coast due to a mistaken belief that it will not corrode. When installed with steel fasteners in a high salt environment it can start the process of galvanic corrosion, in which the railing corrodes before the steel bolts holding it in place rust. Even when its weaknesses are accounted for in design, it can still be undermined by laziness or ignorance in installation. Opting for cheaper fasteners or skipping coated washers can create circumstances for aluminum to corrode and eventually fail.
  • Stainless Steel is possibly the best material to use in any outdoor environment. The chromium in stainless steel forms an invisible but rust-proof layer of chromium oxide that keeps it from corroding, even in harsh conditions. The first reason it is not used more widely is that it is more difficult to produce than regular steel; the second is that it is more expensive; and the third is that in certain situations it is weaker than steel. Finally, it is much more difficult to work, making it largely impractical for balcony railings in most forms. However, high-quality stainless-steel cable railings are in widespread use and do make an attractive railing option, although the need to adjust the tension makes this impractical for most complexes.
  • Steel is quite possibly the single most versatile material, and that is why it is also the most commonly used in balcony railings, especially for large complexes with many units. It is stronger than aluminum, although it does weigh more. Depending on how it is heat treated, it can be stronger than stainless steel while retaining more flexibility. It is also relatively inexpensive and easy to work. Its single real disadvantage is that it rusts, and there are a variety of ways this is addressed, which we’ll discuss in the next section.
  • Glass railings are a new development. These are tempered glass panes or balusters that are suspended using clamps or posts, or in a frame of aluminum or steel. These have the advantage of really opening up views, and when the single pane version is used on high-rise balconies, they are able to act as deck or balcony railing windbreaks.

In large residential complexes, steel is really the only practical choice that can last over a long time. Aluminum is its closest competitor, and is sometimes used instead, but because it tends to be weaker than steel and more subject to dings and dents (depending on quality), and because it’s vulnerable to galvanic corrosion, it doesn’t get chosen as often as steel. Stainless steel could work in the role, but its expense and the difficulty involved in working it makes it impractical. That leaves steel, which, when part of a thoroughly thought-out and well-designed railing system, is much less likely to rust, losing its single biggest disadvantage.

Not All Steel Railings Are Created Equal

As I mentioned earlier, one of the things I check at an apartment complex is the condition of the welds. I used to build railings as a welder, and I know how to do the job correctly. The proper way is to get the measurements from the site, fabricate the railings at an industrial site, and turn them over to an experienced painter for coating. Even if everything goes exactly right, it will still begin rusting within only a year or so of installation. It will start doing so even more quickly if an onsite modification is needed. This is because even the best rustproofing is simply too expensive for most local steel working shops to use, and paint over primer doesn’t hold up well over the long haul. Even a powder coat, as tough as it is, is porous enough that it will let a small amount of moisture through and cause rusting after a time. Two different methods, however, when used together, can stop rust in its tracks.

The first of these is galvanization. Steel stock comes from the maker coated in a thin layer of galvanization. Unfortunately, when the piece is welded, the galvanization around the welds is burned off. That is why many apartment complex railings begin rusting at the welds first. A basic layer of galvanization is still an important step in protecting a metal railing, but that thin layer of zinc plus a paint or powder coat layer isn’t enough to prevent rust, particularly around the welds.

Electrophoretic deposition, usually called e-coating, is an additional option. This method was first used by the automotive industry to protect car undercarriages, and now is used by at least one railing manufacturer. This is a process in which a rust-resistant coating is added by submerging a finished piece of metalwork into a solution bath while running a current through it. This bath is filled with particles that have an opposing electric charge. This draws the particles to the metal where they form an even coating of rust proofing, filling in even the smallest crevices of the weld. This is a non-sacrificial coating that can be covered over with a UV-protective powder coat to create an incredibly durable, attractive surface.

You may have figured out by now that, in my opinion anyway, the best material for balcony railings is steel, rust-proofed through means of galvanization, an e-coat, and a powder coat (which protects much better than paint). This combination simply has the greatest strength and resistance to rust available. The e-coat fulfills a similar function to the chromium oxide that keeps stainless steel from corroding. When e-coated steel is given an appearance coat like a high-quality powder coating, it has a life cycle that is competitive with stainless steel. When it is part of a complete railing system that leaves the coating intact--with mounts that don’t break the protective layers or with screws that are also coated--then e-coated railings become completely maintenance free.

There are many companies that make balcony railing systems, but one of the few that makes steel commercial-grade railing using an e-coating in conjunction with galvanization, a zinc pre-coat, and a powder coating is Fortress Building Products. They offer railing systems, including mounts, that are carefully engineered to be rust and maintenance free over the long haul. This durability is a hallmark of everything Fortress® makes, from decking to fencing. Property managers looking for outdoor solutions to refresh residential complexes should check out Fortress’ range of solutions.

Fortress Evolution Steel Deck Stair System was recognized as a 2020 Architectural Record product of the year.

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Stainless Steel Balcony Railings

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Moto Europa:  9/17/10
Stainless Balcony Rails

A design-build firm asked Foreman Fabricators to make a cable fill railing for the Moto Europa Museum in downtown St Louis.   We supplied the balcony rail structure using stainless steel components, and installation was handled by our customer. 

Click Here to Use the Online Glass Rail Calculator

Beauty was key on this railing and a considerable amount of effort went into making the welds inconspicuous and then polishing them for a natural appearance.  The designer had chosen stout components as necessary to withstand the tension from the cable infill, but in the end it made for a bold appearance on the overall product.  The railing was so heavy that we had to press office workers into service when it came time to move the railings around for polishing in the shop.   Foreman is the go-to choice when contractors need stainless steel railings of this type.  Our extensive experience in measuring, designing drawings, rail fabrication and project coordination ultimately makes the contractor’s job easier.


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