I'm considering raising the height of an existing steel balcony railing by at least 60mm. At this stage it's still a concept and I'm considering if it's possible / worth the effort, and if I'd be happy with the finish.
This would involve:
- Attaching a piece of timber at least 60mm thick along the top edge
- Wrapping/covering all other pieces of exposed steel with timber (facing internally, visible from indoors)
- Staining all the timber for a consistent finish
Context for the project:
- I have a 4790x2030mm third floor apartment balcony
- I intend to add a small section of decking on top of this existing balcony floor (tiles). Thread about my plans for the deck here: https://www.workshop.com.au/t5/Outdoor/Low-Merbau-Deck-on-Apartment-Balcony/m-p/47246#M7242
- The decking will raise the floor of the balcony by at least 115mm (25mm pedestal, 70mm joist, 20mm decking)
- In Victoria, a balcony railing must be at least 1m higher than the balcony floor (including the height of any tiles/deck added on top)
- My existing balcony railing is 1055mm high - meaning I'll need to raise it to at least 1115mm.
The key challenge I'm facing is how to attach timber to the top railing, ideally without needing to drill into the steel. In theory I can achieve this by 'wrapping' around the steel. (See rough diagram / example photo below). I'd love some advice on how I'm planning to go about this.
The steel railing is 75mm wide and 10mm thick.
My concept below would require:
- Large 'railing' timber on top. At least 110mm wide and 60mm high.
- Thin timber, screwed into the bottom of the 'railing', to connect the railing to the timber underneath steel.
At least 30mm H, 20mm W. (wouldn't be too fussed if there was some overhang here if that's too small)
- A piece of timber beneath the steel (eg. a decking board), 75mm wide and 20mm high.
I understand these are all very specific dimensions and it's unlikely there are off the shelf products that will meet these requirements.
Key Questions for the community:
- Are there any similar projects you can direct me to?
- What materials would you recommend I use as a starting point for A, B, C?
- Am I likely to experience any issues with heat/moisture by attaching these two materials in this way?
- Do you have any alternate suggestions on how I could achieve a similar result? (eg. I could scrap this concept and use planter boxes instead, but that doesn't really come close to meeting the safety requirements of the balcony height)
Things I have considered:
- Changing the external appearance of the apartment (will consult owner's corp)
- Adjacent apartment, how this may impact the connection between the two railings
- Adding weight to the balcony
Solved! See most helpful response
We have the Merbau 115 x 115mm DAR Laminated Post which could be used for part A. There is nothing else I can think of that is 110mm wide and 60mm high. For B you could use SpecRite 70 x 19mm Pre Oiled Merbau Picket Blanks and if you were to cut them down the middle you could use them for C as well.
Have you thought of screening off the balcony handrail to form a solid barrier? You might need to do a bit of investigating, but obstructing access to the handrail could potentially supersede the required height. For instance, I've used this screening fixed to the top of my pool fence to increase the height to meet requirements. In my case, a solid barrier without footholds was required to extend the fence. You will most likely need to contact the local council and have the extension/screening checked that it complies.
My first thought would be to continue with the timber theme and use SpecRite 1800 x 902mm Merbau Slat Screen Panels from the deck level up to the required height. The panel comes at 1800mm but there is a convenient cross brace at around the 1200mm mark where you could cut them to size. I think the Merbau screening would complement your decking and the variation of slat sizes used in it would add interest.
If you were to use these as a visual barrier you would have more options as to how you could raise the handrail behind them to comply with regulations. As the handrail is not seen you could then use inexpensive treated pine with the method you have described.
Please let me know if you need further information or had questions.
Thanks Mitchell - incredibly helpful as always!
The Merbau 115x115mm post you've recommended not only meets my design to the millimetre, it also comes in the exact finish I was hoping for (see matching dark stain on partition wall + BBQ cover in the photo I shared). This could be exactly what I'm after.
I noticed it comes in a length of 5.4m - I would have loved to achieve this using one solid length, however there's simply no way for me to get a piece of timber like that to the top floor. Unfortunately I think I'll need to grab 2x the smaller 2.4m lengths and try to create a clean join between them when spanning the ~4m railing.
Likewise, the 70x19mm pickets you suggested are almost perfect for both B and C. The default finish on this looks very close to your suggestion for 'A' - I might be able to get away not doing too much work trying to stain this to match.
I'll be interested to hear what the woodworking experts you've tagged have to say about this also - especially if they have any recommendations regarding any additional treatments I should be applying to the timber to protect it from the elements / any issues I might run into regarding heat, moisture etc.
The screen panels you've suggested are a great alternative, and I've put a lot of thought into this today. While I agree this would give me lots of flexibility with raising the structural height of the railing behind the screen, I feel this might be an overwhelming amount of timber (timber deck, timber slats along the rail, timber BBQ cover, timber partition).
My original plan - only covering the steel with timber - leaves a white space in-between each rail. I've got some thoughts on how I could fill this for a striking visual impact, perhaps with creeping vines etc.
I'm going to work your product recommendations into my designs and share some updated mockups shortly.