According to the National Apartment Association, 2021 is experiencing a “balcony boom.” Now ranked only second to rent concessions on residential wish lists, balconies are becoming more prevalent in multifamily properties as a way to make use of coveted outdoor space. Homeowners are also finding joy in balconies, as these upper-level suspended spaces can serve as a dramatic focal point and relaxing alfresco dining area. For those wanting to incorporate balconies into their upcoming property or home renovations, making the right railing choice can heavily contribute to the design and increase its appeal.
In addition to keeping balconies safe and code compliant, the right balcony railing can take a small outdoor space from ordinary to outstanding in an instant. Its style and profile, along with the color and finish, all work together to give balconies a customized and coordinated look. With all the options available today, what's the best way to land on the perfect balcony railing? Take a look below as we provide answers to two of the most commonly asked balcony railing questions.
What is the railing on a balcony called?
Given that the railing on a balcony has been referred to differently over the years, it’s important to first understand what to look for when selecting materials. Classically referred to as a “balustrade,” the balcony railing got its name from the Italian word balaustra, meaning wild pomegranate flowers. This term was coined in the 17th century in reference to the railing’s balusters (the vertical or horizontal posts that make up a balcony railing), which bore a striking resemblance to a blooming pomegranate. While some people still use the term balustrade, most people today refer to these essential systems as simply, “balcony railings.”
Which material is best for a balcony railing?
- Steel can help create a balcony with an elevated sense of style. This material is great for traditional architecture looking for an ornamental style railing. Some manufacturers even offer railing accessories like accent top panels and pressed dome caps for easy customization. Plus, it’s also finding new life in modern homes, as today’s steel cable railings come with vertical and horizontal options that offer crisp lines to fit perfectly within minimalistic design. Praised for being lightweight, durable and easy to maintain— some steel offerings, such as those available with Fortress®, utilize the automotive coating process to prevent corrosion making the balcony railing virtually maintenance free. This in turn is what makes steel great, not just for homes, but also multifamily properties with frequent updates and maintenance needs between tenants.
- Glass railings are a great choice for those who crave a minimalist design. With the material’s ability to provide clear sightlines and open views, one of the main reasons it is so popular in balcony design today is because of its ability to create the illusion of more space and keep sights on display. Glass balcony railings also provide design versatility, as they perfectly complement other building materials used on railings. For example, drop-in-style glass railing panels or balusters make it easy to pair the beautiful material with wood or composite railing posts, extending a home or property’s style while preserving views. As well as looking attractive, a glass balustrade is also exceptionally robust— its wind blocking ability traps warmth on the balcony and provides a bit of a greenhouse effect. Glass balcony railings will last for many years to come and require little maintenance.
- Aluminum is a popular material choice for those seeking to achieve a modern look, but who also want something that offers premium performance capabilities. With vertical cable-railing infills also offered in aluminum, this material offers the perfect combination of style and functionality. The code-compliant, pre-assembled panels simplify the ordering process for property owners and result in quick and consistent installs. Plus, aluminum balcony railings are also great for those who live near bodies of saltwater. With a multi-layered anti-corrosion powder coating, it can make for a low maintenance solution.
Ready to gets started? Check out Fortress Building Products’ wide selection of stylish and safe balcony railing systems. And if you’re looking to complete your balcony design with high-performing additions that provide an extra touch of style, consider our lighting and accessories.