how do balconies work

How do Balconies work?

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    It is extremely challenging to sell a unit that does not have a balcony because having access to outdoor space that can be shared with friends and family is at the very top of many prospective buyers' wish lists.

    However, balconies all too frequently have a poor layout and wind up being used for little more than an outdoor storage space. In addition, the fact that they are costly to construct makes them more of a liability than an advantage.

    A balcony can add aesthetic value to the facade of your home while also providing the home with additional space and additional outdoor areas. Decks and balconies are similar in appearance; however, there are significant differences between the two. Decks are attached to the ground through pillars, but balconies are only attached to the side of the building they are on. Decks, on the other hand, tend to take up more space than balconies do. The planning stage is the first step in the process of constructing a balcony, which is followed by the building stage.

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    How They're Built

    Wooden balconies make up a much smaller portion of the overall market compared to steel and concrete ones, with the former two materials accounting for the vast majority of the market share. There are two distinct varieties of concrete balconies: continuous slab balconies, which are essentially an extension of the concrete floor slab inside a building, and those that are constructed from steel frames that are attached to the structure of the building. The building's framework is extended with steel planks, which are followed by the placement of concrete. Railings are installed on both types of balconies after the initial construction has been completed. These railings can either be embedded into the concrete of the balcony or surface mounted.


    Types of methods of fixing Balcony structures

    How do you determine which method of attaching a balcony to your structure is the most appropriate, and what are the benefits associated with the various possibilities?

    Cantilevered balconies

    These are balconies that are built in such a way that they protrude from the front face of the building but have no visible supports other than the attachment to the front face of the building. Cantilevering the structure off the wall provides the necessary support for the weight as well as the imposed loads. These balconies won't have gallow brackets or chains because they won't need them. Although this kind of balcony will produce the most aesthetically pleasing result, the building will need to be designed for it in advance, and it will impose greater point loads on the structure. It is not possible to add on this kind of balcony; rather, it must be predesigned.

    Cantilevering a balcony can be accomplished in a number of different ways. Thermal bridging is yet another significant aspect of modern construction that must be taken into consideration, in particular in situations where a steel balcony is utilised (conductivity). A thermal "break" needs to be manufactured in order to satisfy the requirements of part L and the U values. To get around this challenge, there are a number of businesses on the market that sell balcony joints called "thermal breaks." Alternatively, a break can be manufactured by connecting two steel balcony connection plates with a high-density polythene (HDPE) sandwiched in between them.

    The thermal conductivity of timber joists is very low, making them an excellent solution that can be properly cantilevered by leaving a third of the joist protruding from the face of the building. This allows for proper cantilevering of the timber joists.

    Concrete is another popular building material, but the material's high thermal conductivity poses a significant challenge when it comes to constructing with it.

    Cantilevered balconies are typically constructed to have a depth of no more than 1500–1800 millimetres. After reaching these depths, the forces become much more powerful and call for much more technically advanced solutions. When the depth is reduced, the amount of movement that can be anticipated decreases as well. Due to the fact that they are cantilevered members, they will inherently have some movement and "bounce." Because of this, those who use the balcony may experience discomfort at times.

    Hung balconies

    Another method for providing structural support for the balcony involves the use of cables made of stainless steel that are attached to the walls and "hang" the balcony or balconies. The edge of the balcony is secured with a cable made of steel, and a large plate is attached to the structure of the building at an acute 45-degree angle. The balcony is set at an angle that is perpendicular to the direction that the building is facing. The fixing that is done at the wall makes the most of the bolt's strength by utilising both "shear" and "pull out" forces in equal proportions. As a result, the bolt's strength is maximised to the extent that it is possible.

    This is a solution that is used less frequently but has a high aesthetic value due to its uniqueness.

    Stacked balconies or balconies on pillars

    This is the type of balcony structure that is the most common. This is primarily due to the ease with which it can be implemented and the minimal load implications that it has for the building. It is not connected to the building in any way, shape, or form, as it is a distinct structure from the main building. The structure of the balcony is held up by pillars or posts that are placed vertically. These pillars bear the weight of the balcony or balconies, even if they are stacked on top of one another, and transfer it to the ground below, where concrete pads are typically cast. The size of these pillars is calculated by taking into account the dimensions, weight, and quantity of the balconies that are stacked on top of them.

    It is common practise to go with this solution despite the fact that it results in the visibility of vertical pillars due to the fact that it is structurally simple and easy to put into practise.

    Tips for designing balconies that people will use


    A balcony that overlooks a busy street will only be used for brief periods of time, and only a standing balcony with the bare minimum of furniture will do. If, on the other hand, there is a lot of foot traffic on the street, then people will be able to tolerate the noise and it will be appropriate to have a sizable balcony.

    Cut down on the wind.

    Strong winds are typically experienced on higher floors, which means that people won't want to use balconies located on those levels. You can reduce the force of the wind by constructing recessed balconies, which are balconies that are set into the wall that surrounds them, or you can protect the sides of cantilevered balconies by installing full-height glass. When this isn't sufficient, balconies can be made almost completely enclosed using walls and railings.


    Even in cold climates, protection from the sun's heat and glare should be a priority. Balconies that face south can be easily shaded by deeper balconies located above them. Patio blinds are necessary for protection on east- and west-facing balconies because of the low angle of the sun, which prevents this method from shading those balconies.


    Between 1.5 and 2 feet is the minimum depth that can be utilised for standing on a balcony. Coffee for two can be enjoyed at a height of 3 feet. A dining table with a circumference of 6 feet can comfortably accommodate four people. It will be more comfortable if you go from six to eight feet, but going any deeper is generally only beneficial when hosting large groups of people.


    When it comes to privacy, balconies are typically not a problem. The one and only exception to this rule is when two adjacent buildings face each other directly; in this case, opaque or semi-opaque railings can be crafted from concrete, frosted glass, or dense latticework.

    Adding protection

    The majority of balconies in brand-new buildings are designed to be extremely open to the elements; they project outward from the building face and have glass railings. This is excellent news because having a balcony that fully protrudes into the room rather than one that is fully recessed provides superior visibility.

    On the other hand, balconies that are sufficiently deep lend themselves well to designs that are partially recessed. On the one hand, these balconies offer protection from the elements, and on the other, they provide a view that encompasses the entire room.

    The level of transparency of the railing is another important consideration. It is important to have a railing that is transparent so that you can look outside while sitting, particularly on higher floors where there may not be much to see at eye level. On the lower floors, opaque railings offer privacy from the neighbouring buildings while simultaneously allowing the owner to see the view.

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    The location of the balcony within the unit has a significant impact on the overall experience. When compared to a balcony that is connected through a bedroom, one that can be accessed from the living room or the kitchen will have a warmer, more inviting atmosphere and will be used more frequently. It is awkward for guests to access the balcony if they have to walk through someone's bedroom, which will likely result in decreased usage of the balcony.


    You shouldn't be too concerned about the view; it is nice to have a beautiful view from the balcony, but it is not required. Try not to worry too much about it. People don't typically go out onto their balconies to see the same view that they can see from inside their apartment; rather, they use them to spend time outside.

    How Is a Balcony Built?


    The first thing to do when constructing a balcony is to make a plan. The first step in the planning process is to determine the location of the balcony, as well as its dimensions and the kinds of materials you want to use to construct it. The size of your balcony as well as its intended use will help determine the materials that are used to construct it; the stronger the materials must be, the more weight a balcony must support. Before beginning construction on the balcony, you will need to first create detailed structural drawings for each component of the balcony and include the dimensions on all of the drawings. Never begin construction without first developing a comprehensive plan, and always check with your community's building department to see if any permits are required before beginning work.


    When planning a balcony, special attention should be paid to ensuring that all weight support systems are designed appropriately and taken into account. Joists, also known as lateral pieces of wood, are used to construct balconies. These joists run between the primary support beams of the structure. The floor of the balcony is held up by joists, which also serve to reinforce the beams. The juncture between a joist and beam requires special support mechanisms, such as ledger strips or joist hangers. When adding a balcony to the exterior of a building, it is necessary to provide weight support while also ensuring that the balcony is securely attached to the building. Investigate a number of different approaches to achieving this goal, including the utilisation of diagonal support beams, clasps, joints, and masonry material, such as cement or even concrete.


    Before beginning construction, a good builder will always make sure they are prepared for any emergency. This requires gathering all of the necessary tools and components before continuing. Invest in additional supplies just in case there are hiccups. Determine where the power outlets for the power tools are located and look for alternative power sources, such as batteries. Always clean and prepare the surface you plan on attaching the balcony to, and make sure that it does not require any work; regardless of how well a balcony is built, it will not endure in the absence of a secure wall.


    The construction of the balcony, similar to the construction of any other structure, starts from the ground up. To begin, prepare the wall that will serve as the support for the balcony and instal any necessary support networks, such as diagonal beams. Constructors produce as many materials as they can before actually installing anything; for example, it is possible to construct joist and beam systems, the floor of the balcony, and railings on the ground independently of one another. Installing the joist and beam system first, then beginning to attach the floor to this, and finally working the railing into the unit while finishing the floor, is the recommended order of operations. After you have finished, put something heavy on the balcony before you stand on it; it is preferable to break a patio table than to break your neck. Bear in mind that you should never attempt to construct a deck if you are unsure of what you are doing because you run the risk of injuring both yourself and others.

    Outdoor Vs. Indoor Balconies

    The construction of an indoor balcony is very different from the construction of an outdoor balcony. Outdoor balconies are similar to decks in appearance and are attached to the exterior of a building. The design of a building can incorporate indoor balconies in various ways. Installing an indoor balcony calls for significantly more complex planning and construction methods, including careful consideration of how the weight will be supported and how the structure will be integrated. It's also possible for outdoor balconies to be incorporated into the building's overall structural design. If this is the case, the builder will instal the balconies as the structure is being constructed, rather than adding them on later as an afterthought.

    Visual Inspections are Important for Balcony Safety

    A fundamental visual inspection can be carried out by anyone to ensure the ongoing and permanent safety of a bolt-on balcony. The most challenging aspect of constructing a cantilevered balcony is ensuring that the weather joint at the point where the joists penetrate the wall is watertight. As a consequence of expansion and contraction brought on by shifts in both moisture and temperature, joists are subject to movement. The end result is hidden rot and water damage, which poses a significant threat to the building's structural integrity. Caulk is frequently used as a weather sealant to protect against water damage; however, caulk deteriorates rapidly when exposed to outdoor elements. Rebuilding, repairing the inside joists, removing the drywall, and making interior repairs are typically required in order to make an unsafe wooden balcony safe again. These fixes can be time-consuming and expensive.

    A Safer Balcony Option

    Because they do not require additional support from the building, bolt-on balconies are considered to be the more secure option. Behind the interior structure, there are no joists to be found. Installation time is cut in half to one third compared to that of a wooden cantilever balcony (if prefabricated and shipped complete by Midwest Stairs & Iron.) Secure connections, construction from aluminium metal, and powder coating all contribute to an item's increased longevity. A bolt-on balcony is typically constructed out of steel or aluminium, and it can be adorned with a handrail made of glass, acrylic, cable, or any number of other materials. Powder coating allows for a wide variety of colours to be applied to metals like steel or aluminium. Because of their longevity and increased resistance to the effects of the weather, aluminium balconies are quickly becoming the material of choice for new construction. One of the best things about bolt-on balconies is the ability to quickly remove and reinstall them in the event that they are damaged in any way, be it because someone used a sledgehammer or because you simply want to give them a new colour or style. Tenants place a high value on both aesthetics and visual safety. The practically endless opportunities for design appeal greatly to architects. The cost value and the enhancement to life safety are appealing to property developers.

    How to test your current wooden balcony for safety?

    how to test your current wooden balcony for safety

    Call an expert. An expert will perform an inspection, which may involve climbing a ladder to inspect the exterior and interior wood cantilevered joists of the structure. In a standard safety inspection, a screwdriver or an awl is used to punch a small hole in the joists, check for gaps, and probe the joists in order to look for rot. It is possible that the interior of the building has sustained water damage, as evidenced by a bump in the floor. Traditional wooden cantilever construction at low-rise apartment and condominium complexes often presents ongoing challenges, one of which is the existence of a weak frame, which poses a risk to human life.

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    All About the Maintenance

    There is no standard treatment available for failure to perform maintenance. "If you stay on top of maintenance by sealing cracks and using clear coatings, your costs are going to be significantly reduced, and you are going to put some longevity into your ownership," says the author.

    Balconies have the potential to last for many generations if they are properly maintained. There is no conceivable reason why concrete balconies couldn't last for half a century. On the other hand, the balconies of some buildings that were constructed about five years ago need to have a comprehensive restoration done to them.

    For example, wooden decks "should be washed and sealed once every two years." [Citation needed] There are many locations that operate on a three-year cycle, but what this typically means is that you only get one year of maintenance and two years of water damage. You should still do it once every two years, even if the product claims it will last for three years.

    A significant portion of maintenance can be avoided by attentively adhering to a regular sealing, coating, and care routine as well as by performing tasks correctly while the structure is being constructed. It's possible that corrosion issues started appearing long before the first residents moved into the building. It's possible that the concrete was exposed to water or salt before it was even mixed in, or in older buildings, the contractors might have added a concrete accelerator to the mixture. Salt, which is a component of that accelerator, is the element that ultimately leads to corrosion.

    It's also possible that location plays a role in determining how often a balcony should be maintained and how much care and attention is required to keep it in good condition. "Corrosion will begin sooner if you are in closer proximity to saltwater," said the scientist. Concrete and steel are susceptible to having their health and well-being negatively impacted by the carbon dioxide produced by heavy traffic.

    When issues arise, taking prompt action can help reduce the amount of damage caused. "resurfacing the balcony deck, fascia, and underside with a concrete deck coating material," one possible strategy for repairing the damage, is also a possibility. The application of concrete repair mortar for surface cracks and hairline cracks, as well as the application of a concrete patching product for spall repair, are both essential components of the repair process. The removal of rust "from exposed metal rebars or wire mesh and the application of a rust inhibitor coating" is likely to resolve issues relating to rust. This will bring the surface back to its original state. And lastly, "loose railing posts should be reset in non-shrink grout with the penetration fully caulked," as it is stated in the previous sentence.

    Despite the fact that these repairs can take anywhere from a couple of hours to several weeks for a complete replacement, the time and effort spent on them are more than justified.

    Our balconies serve as both safe havens and passageways into the surrounding natural world. They are among the most prized pieces of real estate that we own, and that status alone makes them worthy of being protected.

    FAQs About Balcony Repair

    There are balconies available on a wide variety of property types, including homes, apartments, restaurants, theatres, and concert halls for music. It is possible for the balcony to fall apart if the railings are not properly maintained. When something like this takes place, victims may sustain serious injuries.

    It is believed that the earliest balconies date back more than two thousand years to Ancient Greece. Back then, they most likely served to address purely functional needs, such as to increase air circulation in hot climates or to enhance natural light to the interior of a building. Balconies are thought to have been invented in Ancient Greece.

    If you overload a balcony, you run the risk of creating a safety hazard that could put you or another person in harm's way. Having said that, the load-bearing capacity of balconies is typically between 50 and 100 pounds per square foot. However, there is a possibility that the structure of your balcony was originally built as a patio, which could result in a change in the load rating capacity of the balcony.

    The safety of balconies is an important topic of discussion, particularly with regard to falling concrete. On balconies, it is common to see places where the concrete has been removed. In most cases, the pieces of concrete that have broken off and fallen to the ground can be seen; however, they have merely been discarded at this point.

    Whether they are attached to the second or third story of a house, balconies are always constructed at the same height as the floor they are attached to. For a second floor, this height is typically somewhere between 10 and 13 feet, and for a third floor, this height is typically between 20 and 26 feet.

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