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Building a Balcony, Should You Use Aluminum Railing or a Balustrade System for Safety?

Building a new balcony is an exciting time for any homeowner. Maybe you decided to make an overlook to enhance the front of your home or a leisurely upper deck where you can admire your backyard from above. Balconies are something that almost any two-story home can have, especially if you also have room for a door in the upper floorplan. Some people cut back the top of the home for a balcony, though most build a pillar-supported deck balcony which becomes (or already was) the lower porch roof.

Whether or not you already had the infrastructure, the single most important thing about balcony design -- beyond structural integrity -- is the protective railings. It's simply not safe to allow people to walk out and relax on a balcony without something there to ensure no one falls by accident. The next natural question is what kind of railing you need. In the architectural world, you have two primary options: Slender aluminum railing and a classically decorative balustrade system. Today, we're here to help you choose.

Aluminum Railing vs Balustrade System for Your Balcony

The first thing you'll want to know is which is safer, and the answer is that both are equally safe. When properly installed, both aluminum railing and a balustrade system are very sturdy and certainly strong enough to be leaned on, run into, and to hold up a full-grown adult to prevent them from falling. The biggest difference between the two is aesthetics and design.

The question is whether aluminum railing or a balustrade system would look best with your home design and, to a certain extent, whether you want to work in additional features.

Aluminum Railing

Aluminum railing is sleek, narrow, and very simple in design. It is made up of horizontal and vertical bars at even distributions. The top handrail is wider than the other bars. The vertical bars along the length are close enough to prevent a person, child, and most pets from slipping through and the railings are incredibly durable. Aluminum railings require essentially no maintenance beyond the occasional wash, as they are powder-coated which is even more durable than the best seal-coated paint.

Aluminum railing is the best choice for your balcony if your home is a modernistic style, particularly if your home features other similar metal accents. For example, if your window frames are metal, if your yard fence is made of metal bars instead of wooden pickets, or simply if metal bars would look more stylish.

Balustrade System

A balustrade system is a classically styled type of railing where the vertical columns are traditionally carved into flower buds just starting to open. You have seen them many places and are especially popular in high-end homes and resort hotels. But any home that would look nice with classic architectural details can use a balustrade system for their balcony to wonderful aesthetic effect. Balustrade systems are elegant but they are also visually broader than aluminum railings. They tend to be thicker, often wide enough to set a drink on the top rail, and the balusters (the vertical columns inside the railings) do not necessarily have to be opening flower buds. They can be carved or molded into any shape that you find pleasing and there are now a wide variety of balusters that can be chosen for a beautiful new balustrade system.

A balustrade system is the best choice for your home if you have a more traditional styled house that might look nice with romanesque columns. If you have a lower porch railing that is of a wider carved type, then an upper balustrade system would be a natural addition. Balustrade systems also tend to be more comfortable to lean against and feel sturdier due to their width and style. Balustrade systems add a classy and elegant style to your home's balcony if chosen.

Which Railing Choice is Right For You?

Choosing the right railing for your new balcony can be a tough decision. Check out the visual difference between aluminum railings and balustrade systems to envision which would look the best with your current home design. Contact us today at Worthington Millwork and our experts will be delighted to help you find the perfect railing system to match your home.