It’s easy to take a look at a stunning balustrade system in an outright marvel of architecture and get the impression that what you’re looking at is beyond the reach of the average man…figuratively speaking, that is. However, it has in fact never been easier to choose, design and arrange the installation of any such project, from a simple handrail to the most cutting-edge multi-level balustrade system on the face of the Earth today.
Making the right choice in terms of a balustrade system or handrail for the home or office can have the most enormous impact not only on the aesthetics of the place, but also on its safety and indeed its overall value. A glass balustrade system for example can add an all-new dynamic beauty to a room while at the same time providing an essential physical barrier, just in the same way that simple stainless steel handrail systems on staircases work in favour of health and safety while adding a touch of class.
As with many things of such a nature, it is really just a matter of deciphering exactly what effect and purpose the installation is intended for and summarily deciding on an option.
More often than not, a handrail is installed primarily as a safety feature with its aesthetic prowess taking something of a backseat to the proceedings. That being said, the right handrail can set off any stairwell or walkway to an extent little else comes close to.
As a simple feature, the primary and perhaps only consideration will be that of the materials – all of which have their own unique selling-points and benefits:
- Aluminium – The ultimate in strength and performance, aluminium is not only able to withstand an incredible amount of punishment, but also to look quite stunning at the same time. Aluminium can also be one of the easiest choices when it comes to installation and adjustment as the material is naturally very light.
- Stainless Steel – In many respects an excellent and more affordable alternative to aluminium, a stainless steel handrail is incredibly strong, stunning in appearance and one of the easiest handrail materials to keep clean – perfect for high traffic areas. What’s more, its non-porous properties also promote excellent hygiene and ease of cleaning.
- Wood – Perhaps the most elegant and timeless choice, quality wood can be superbly durably and capable of standing the tests of time while delivering a wonderfully classic aesthetic. Usually a better choice for lower-traffic areas.
- Glass – Glass handrails have come a long way over recent years and are now some of the strongest and most extraordinarily beautiful in the world. However, their upkeep in terms of cleaning and polishing can be higher than the above three.
Balustrades can, by contrast, be considerably more demanding installations, though in many ways demand the same areas of thought – primarily involving materials. However, given the fact that a balustrade will inherently occupy a much larger area than a simple handrail, the importance of the decisions made can be far higher.
Glass Balustrade Systems
One of the most popular options for use in modern contexts is that of glass balustrades. Presenting 100% crystal clear properties covering panels and handrails alike, glass balustrades are by definition extremely minimal and never fail to blend into their surroundings with seamless elegance. There are few better options on the market today when it comes to making the most of all available light and space, as glass balustrades do not obstruct any views and thus can make the interior of any building look and feel considerably larger.
To summarise therefore, the primary benefits of glass balustrades include:
- Zero obstruction of views by way of pillars, panels and handrails alike – ideal for raised features and atria.
- Hard-wearing materials that can be used either indoors or outdoors – excellent weather resistance and zero chances of rust.
- Infinite options for customization and the addition of wood or metal accents for a new aesthetic.
Aluminium and stainless steel balustrade systems
The ultimate in strength, durability and ease of maintenance – the use of cutting-edge metals results in a balustrade system that is pretty much as bullet-proof as it gets. As such, this variety of balustrade is perfect for areas in which practicality, safety and downright good looks need to be balanced across the board – i.e. high traffic and heavy-duty areas where a touch of class is still important. And what’s more, there’s always the option to combine the two and create bespoke stainless steel and glass balustrade systems to bring together the best of both worlds.
The primary benefits of the metal balustrade therefore are:
- Non-porous for excellent overall hygiene.
- Very low-maintenance and easy to keep clean.
- Extremely hard-wearing for areas of heavy use.
- Surprisingly affordable options.
Elegant Wood Balustrades
Just like basic handrails, there are also limitless options on the cards for wooden balustrade systems, which are of course timeless in their elegance. While perhaps better suited to low-traffic areas and therefore largely more decorative, they can also be some of the most affordable, easy to install and cheap to maintain.
By Francesca Holmes
Francesca Holmes quite literally wrote the book on frameless glass balustrade systems and is currently in the process of branching out his e-book empire with several upcoming projects. When not on a mission to bring high-end architecture to the masses, she enjoys exploring the great outdoors with her fiancé and the couple’s three huge dogs. He lives and works in Somerset.