Framed balustrade systems are essentially a balustrade which uses metal uprights to take the structural loads. This includes vertical bar balustrades, balustrades which have a glass infill, metal boxing to form a solid wall, etc.
Vertical bar balustrades are a common option. Whilst historically they were considered to be a low cost, industrial-looking infill option, now vertical bar options are used as part of a neat architectural style. Using glass infill panels with a support framework used to be a much more common solution. This has become less common because of the simplistic, and neater base fixings of frameless structural glass to Cassette® balconies which removes a lot of the previous costly base channels used for frameless structural glass systems.
Vertical Bar Balustrade – Product Overview
Historically, vertical bar balustrade solutions were chosen as a cheap way of providing a guarding which wasn’t easy for children to climb. With the cost of glass significantly being reduced, this became a less common choice.
More recently vertical bar balustrade options are being used to create distinction and architectural style. Rather than the industrial roadside railing look, with main posts and infill panels between, We have created a solution which enables individual fixing of bars to avoid vertical bar infill panels and to allow a consistent uninterrupted flow.
Key features for end users are both kick plates and sloped handrails to prevent objects falling to balconies or paths below.
When specifying vertical bar balustrade systems, the first design consideration is what the upright should be. With vertical bars, there are essentially two choices; rectangular sections or round bars.
Rectangular sections make installing a fascia a very much simpler task. They are typically formed using extruded aluminium which makes them light weight and cost effective. On the other hand, round bars are often machined from solid bars which can make them quite a bit more costly.
Whether round or rectangular, vertical bars are each fixed mechanically which avoids welds. This also spreads the load, so that large intermediate, corner post, etc. aren’t required.
With fascia’s being slid into position and fixed after the vertical bars uprights have been finished, this means that fascia’s fixing from the outside are really only an option when using rectangular bars. Round bars can however have a fascia behind to hide the Cassette® skeleton.
Round bars are typically made from solid stainless steel bar, with a milled flat surface where they join to the Cassette®. This makes it a considerable amount more expensive than the rectangular bars, which are typically made from extruded aluminium.
On most vertical bar projects, we have provided a two part handrail. The first part is a core rail which sits on top of the vertical bars, with each infill bar being mechanically fixed through the corerail.
One of the four standard profiles, or a bespoke aluminium extrusion is then clipped into position and fixed. Corner joints are typically achieved using mitre joints, and where there are joint’s needed on a long straight run, they are typically butt jointed, with the handrail and corerails joints staggered to provide optimum strength.
Framed balustrade systems are far less commonly specified than historically. This is partly because the cost difference compared to structural glass is far less than it used to be, and partly an aesthetic choice, or trend.
Cassette® balconies make the base detail of frameless structural glass much simpler than fixing it to concrete or steel frames. This makes framed systems even less common with Cassette® balconies.
Framed systems are more expensive and can be less safe with monolithic glass. We have a company policy to have no monolithic glass on any of our balconies and we would recommend toughened or heat-strengthened glass.
The main use of framed balustrades are in conjunction with architectural panels (e.g. patterned or perforated) which tend to be thin, so need a frame for structural support. Above are our four standard balustrade systems which can be included.
Whilst historically, glass infill panels were very common, there has recently been increasing specification of perforated, mesh, and solid metal panels to add unique signatures to building facades.
Such panels use a supporting frame, including balusters and handrail, to fulfil the structural loading performance of standards like BS6180. These support infill panels which are usually laser cut, or punched from thin aluminium material. If glass is preferred, 10mm monolithic toughened glass can be used for more of an open feel, however, it is recommended to consider structural glass for simplicity and increased safety.
Solid walls are typically used as either part of the architectural style of the building façade, or as a way of obtaining some privacy. Solid walls or “End Boxes” as they are often called, are made from a similar construction to the Cassette® skeleton, from a structural framework, clad with a coated aluminium cladding.
The thicknesses of these boxes can vary according to aesthetic preferences. Some clients have chosen to have the deeper with decking continuing up the inside whereas others choose to have a thin box clad entirely in powder coated aluminium.
Privacy is often a key consideration when it comes to terraces, continuous walkways, or balconies which have access from differing apartments. Separating these can be done in a variety of ways, from using fins or other architectural façade features, or by using screens.
Creating a screen can be done relatively simply by using standard concepts used for balustrades. The slightly more difficult part to get right, is how these fit with the overall aesthetic tone of the balconies, and the building façade.
Selection is typically driven by how much privacy is considered necessary, for example can people see through gaps in the privacy screen, and secondly the cost of the options.
It must also be considered that on many buildings, the use of a balcony can be seen from neighbouring building or from the ground, so the privacy screen may be viewed as more of a fence, or barrier between different properties balconies.
By far the most common privacy screen options, is the use of satin pre-etched glass, which is a cost effective and durable solution, which creates privacy but still allows light through.