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Posted on 2nd September 2016

Whether used for atriums, staircases, balconies, terraces or external areas, balustrades have an important role to play in ensuring the safety of a building for its users.

In most installations, however, one of their primary functions is also to enhance the building’s aesthetics, so specifying a system that looks right is critical.

It’s important to remember that a balustrade’s system aesthetic role is twofold: firstly the system itself must look stylish, high quality and in keeping with the building.  Secondly it must not detract from the design of the building itself.

Achieving both of these goals in a single installation can be challenging, as the design team must walk the fine tightrope between an aesthetically pleasing architectural feature and unobtrusive safety specification.

For most installations, glass is the material of choice for infill panels, as this helps to enhance natural light penetration within the building and does not obscure the building’s interior.  However, in some applications, modesty screening is required and here fritted, etched or screen-printed glass can offer the ideal solution, providing a subtle pattern that can be used to complement the building’s interior design, while still maximising natural light.

Glass infill panels can also be used to display company logos or echo the design style of the interior with a range of effects to suit the individual building.

Conversely, steel infill panels are rarely used for aesthetic purposes and are largely consigned to back office spaces where their purpose is purely functional. However, for designers aiming for an industrialised interior look, perforated steel infill panels can also be used to great aesthetic effect.

The handrails are equally important to the look of the finished balustrade system, with polished stainless steel offering a timeless look. Maintaining that clean, polished surface over time is also critical, however, so it’s important to specify a quality product that will stand the test of time. Delta offers a ground breaking nTechnology treatment for stainless steel hand rails and supports, which reduces cleaning requirements and thus helps prevent unsightly ‘tea staining’ discolouration, ensuring balustrades always look as good as they did at installation.

Finally, fixings also have an impact on a balustrade’s aesthetics. Using bolt through lugs on glass infill panels rather than clamp lugs reduces the number of fixings required for a BS6180 and BS EN 1090-1 compliant installation, maximising the clean lines of the system.