What factors should you consider when specifying a balcony?

Balconies are one of the most effective ways of adding external space to a building, without taking up valuable – and often expensive – ground space.

If you’re working on a commercial scheme, the benefits include breakout space for employees and views for visitors. On the flip side, the advantages are plenty when it comes to a residential project, too.

A balcony can often add quality of life, i.e. in a small apartment which has no other access to outside space. But balconies are not just limited to apartments – they can also be used in larger, detached properties to create numerous living spaces.

If you’re an architect or specifier, it’s likely that you already have a deep understanding of these benefits. Once they have been specified early on in a project, there are a number of factors which might influence which balcony system you choose.

David Lawson, Managing Director at MultiBal, shares his advice for specifying the right balcony for your project.

Juliet balcony or a walk-on balcony?

Juliet balconies are a brilliant way to invite additional air and light in upstairs spaces. Also, if space and budget are limited, they can offer a perfect solution. This type of balcony is a balustrade around a window or door opening, allowing you to bring fresh air inside without requiring an additional structure.

When it comes to walk-on balconies, there are two options. Inset terraces form part of the structural façade and are often specified when it is not practical for the balcony to protrude beyond the fabric of the building. In cases where protrusion is not a concern, that can then obviously become an alternative option.

Design considerations

A balcony can be designed and manufactured to complement the style of the building and the materials used in the façade, including cladding or render colour. 

MultiBal balconies are also available in a gloss or matt finish, according to the appearance you’re going for. There are different design options to choose from. 

Our Belgrave Juliet Balcony, for example, offers a minimalistic, understated look, while our Berkeley Juliet Balcony was designed with architectural appeal in mind, comprising two round bars.

For a walk-on balcony, our Streamline product is ideal, especially if you want the material to blend seamlessly with the building. Offering clean lines and a simple finish, it is perfect discreet option.

When it comes to projecting balconies, the Buckingham three-sided balcony offers a bold design statement. 

What technical details should you think about?

Each scheme will require different technical features from a balcony system. 

One of the first considerations is how the product fixes to the structure. Does the system sit in line with the edge of the building or does it sit proud of the elevation? The style you choose is likely to depend on two factors: your design preference, and planning stipulations. Our range of balcony products include options for both.

Corrosion is another important influence. It is one of the most common problems with any external balustrade, which impacts on both the aesthetics of the building as well as its structural integrity. MultiBal’s balconies are manufactured from aluminium, which has outstanding corrosion resistance properties. In fact, we began by making products for use on North Sea oil platforms, so we know a lot about corrosion resistance. As such, our products do not corrode. The paint we use even has an expected life of at least 25 years dependent on postcode, meaning you will not need to periodically treat or repaint them.

How safe are the products?

Safety for the end user is one of the most important factors to consider. All balcony systems sold in the UK must meet stringent safety requirements. We have achieved CE Execution Class 2 for the manufacture of structural work in aluminium, along with OHSAS 18001 Health and Safety Management accreditations.

Further, the alloys used in the products have a zero fire spread rating. 

How easy and quick are the products to install?

On a construction site, time is money. Any products that are quick and easy to fit help to reduce installation costs.

There are plenty of different balcony systems on the market, including glass and steel, but MultiBal’s products are manufactured from aluminium. By design, our aluminium has been engineered to provide a similar span of capabilities as steel systems. Compared to glass, it is just one third of the weight.

This low weight makes manual handling on site easier and safer, reducing the risk of injury.

As the products are supplied ready-assembled, they have no requirement for welding or hot works, removing the need for permits and reducing the risk of fire/welding injuries. 

Do they conform to building regulations and planning stipulations?

Building regulations and planning stipulations will be a big influence on your choice of balcony system. 

Each council often has its own standpoint on balconies, often depending on how built up and urbanised the area is. Some councils, for example, may discourage them, if they feel it would look out of place or overlook residential areas. Simple design measures may make balconies more acceptable in planning terms.

Our existing stock of balconies are designed to fit double and single openings, whereas our bespoke builds are able to fit any size.

Each of our products are also designed to conform to BS 6399 PT1 and NHBC guidelines.

To sum up, there are varying and contrasting factors to think about when specifying a balcony. By working with MultiBal, you are able to discuss these requirements with an expert and find the best product to satisfy each one.

To arrange a consultation, call 01698 841199 or email info@multibal.co.uk.