How to Choose the Right Balustrade and Baluster Materials for an Outdoor Space

Posted on: 19 May 2017

Your outdoor staircase will need a balustrade, or a railing, with balusters, or the materials that hold the railing in place. You also need this type of fixture along a balcony and may want to install one along the edge of a deck as well. When choosing the materials for a balustrade and the balusters under it, note a few suggestions that would work well for your space.

Glass

If you want an uninterrupted view, such as from a balcony or to stairs leading to a pool area, glass is the right choice, as even thin bars or wires can obstruct that view. Choose thick safety glass that won't shatter or bend under weight and pressure. Frameless glass can offer a modern look and clear view, and thick panels can work as both a railing and baluster. However, if the material seems too modern for the space, consider adding a wood frame or wood balustrade along the top of glass panels. This will tone down the glass while still not getting in the way of the view.

Metal

Metal can be very durable and sturdy, but note that steel may eventually rust and corrode and would need some maintenance and repair. Also, if the balustrade is in direct sunlight, this can make the metal too warm for it to be comfortable; a person could literally burn their skin when reaching for the balustrade or may not want to use the handrail, which can compromise their safety. If the staircase or other area is in constant, direct sunlight, consider choosing another material.

Privacy

On a balcony or deck that is in close proximity to neighbours, you may want some privacy. Horizontal wood slats are usually the best for this, as they block off the view while still allowing some airflow and light between the slats. For maximum privacy, you can also create a wall from the wood, and this material may be the easiest to install as a handrail, as is needed around staircases and steps.

Children and pets

If you have children and pets, you want to be careful about using any material that is designed in bars and slats; there may even be legal regulations in your area about the spacing of these balusters, to keep children and animals from getting stuck between them. A solid piece can be a better option; this might include glass or metal panels, or vinyl panels for easier cleanup and for areas where metal may get too hot, as mentioned above.

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