Designing balustrade for stairs, mezzanine floors, partitions and barriers is one of the more complex requirements for any built environment. There are many elements to consider, from suitable fixings for the building fabric to the horizontal load-bearing capability. Many architects find it difficult to know where to start, so with that in mind Neaco are introducing our Balustrade Design Guide, a four-part series which focuses on the design options and technical demands of each key balustrade component. In Part 1, we’re focusing on stanchions.
The primary concern for stanchions is the method of fixing to the building structure. The nature and fabric of this structure determines which methods of fixing your require. Stability is the key to structural integrity and horizontal load-bearing, so it’s important to determine a viable solution (you can read more about horizontal load requirements here). There are broadly four common methods used to fix balustrade stanchions:
1) Grout-in base
This is the most common solution in balustrade design. Stanchions can be grouted in to a void which is core-drilled into the structural concrete. The stanchion should be inserted to a minimum depth of approximately 125mm into structural concrete. A cover at the base can conceal the grouting and provide a more attractive aesthetic.
SUITABLE FABRICS: concretes, Structures, back-filled cavity wall installations
2) Flat base
This adaptable option is suitable for various fabrics which are unsuitable of grout-in installations, e.g. steel. A flat plate can be secured with bolts on each side for a straightforward installation. Plates can also be manufactured at bespoke angles to adapt to raked surfaces commonly found on stairwell structures and ramps.
SUITABLE FABRICS: solid concrete surfaces, structural timber, steel beams
3) Side fixing
When it’s not viable to install down into the ground, side /face fixings can be used on balconies and stringers. This method is often used when there is a lack of space on the horizontal surface. It’s also useful when a grout-in or flat base installation is not possible on an uneven surface finish or a sensitive membrane such as damp-proofing on a roof. A side fixing system can be slightly more time-consuming on site but it does create more floor space, particularly on stairwells and mezzanine floors. The stanchion can be directly bolted onto the wall with button caps to cover up unsightly screws.
SUITABLE FABRICS: solid concrete surfaces, steel, structural timbers
4) Female Socket Flat Base
This is an unusual option which is used in tricky installations where the balustrade stanchion needs to be fixed within a void below the finished floor level, which is sometimes required in balcony installations. In these types of installation the stanchion requires additional strength, stability and support which is provided by the Socket Flat Base which is fixed to the lower surface below the finished floor level. The Socket Flat Base is bolted onto the surface and the stanchion is slotted into the socket. A cover can be applied where the stanchion appears above the floor level to provide a neater appearance.
SUITABLE FABRICS: Concrete metal decks, hollow plank floors
Tubular stanchions are still the most popular specification but a variety of other aesthetic options for balustrade design, including square stanchions and flat-bar stanchions. Neaco have also developed an innovative stanchion profile called Shape (pictured below left) designed for economical use of materials. For further details on Neaco’s full range of stanchion options please visit our balustrade section
CLICK HERE TO READ PART 2 OF OUR BALUSTRADE DESIGN GUIDE