Some of the strictest building regulations in the whole world can be found right here in the UK, and to anyone not fully familiar with them, it can often seem like something of a minefield. The last thing you want is incorrect balustrade construction causing delays to your project, so to help you avoid the extra delays and costs that come with it, we’ve put together this handy guide on the key factors to consider for your balustrades when it comes to building regulations.
Document K…sounds like something out of James Bond!
Document K is an approved document relating to balustrade building requirements, put together by the Government and pertaining to building regulations and their specific requirements across England and Wales. Mainly focusing on protection from falling, collision and impact, Document K outlines what’s required of homes and commercial properties, in addition to the higher standards required of public buildings (which are likely to have more visitors, who’ll be unfamiliar with their surroundings).
Will The Balustrade Be A Safety Feature?
Document K also lays out the government’s Workplace Regulations Act of 1992, which highlights how employers have a responsibility to ensure their workplace is safe for their employees to use. These regulations are ultimately put forward with the goal of preventing personal injuries, and ensuring that all individuals, including those with disabilities, have adequate access points.
Different buildings will necessitate different balustrade building regulations. When it comes to homes, balustrades are necessary when there’s a change of 600mm or more in the floor level. For public buildings, this drops to 380mm, or when a staircase has more than two risers (the vertical space between steps).
What Building Regulation Inspectors Will Want To See
Building regulation inspectors will want to see a number of things, but predominantly, they will want to ensure any and all balustrades are adhering to their specific height requirements. In addition to the different regulations that apply depending on the building category, there will also be different regulations depending on the type of balustrade.
Regulations For Metal Balustrades
If you’re fitting metal system in a public building, with stairs less than 1,000mm wide, then at least one handrail is required. If the stairs are wider than 1,000mm, then there must be a handrail on both sides. All landings and ramps must also feature a continuous handrail, with a finish that reduces the chances of clothing becoming snagged on the end and causing personal injury. Height requirements are still in effect, with any change in floor level of at least 600mm requiring a balustrade 1100mm from the ground, with any bars no more than 99mm apart.
Regulations For Glass Balustrades
Tempered and laminated glass are two of the most frequently used materials for this product in the UK, with glass systems on the whole becoming increasingly popular. One common misconception that often arises with the glass version is that a metal handrail is required; frameless glass balustrades are a popular option when it comes to balconies, thanks to their seamless look, and as long as they follow all building regulations, then don’t necessitate a continuous handrail.
Like with metal balustrades, glass ones also have height requirements. In homes they must be 900mm high, with external balconies 1100mm from the ground. When it comes to public buildings it’s typically also 900mm, although this can be 1100mm too if required. Landings and assembly points are the same, although assembly points with fixed seating must have balustrades 800mm high, with 540mm between the seats and the system to allow for access. Finally, any that are in an area that’s going to be used by children must have no gaps between sections that can fit a sphere of 100mm.
Balustrade building regulations don’t only enforce the height, they also give strict guidance for their load requirements too. When it comes to glass, there are three important considerations:
Firstly, there’s the line load. This is the horizontal force on the balustrade, which would equate to someone leaning on it.
Secondly, the uniformly distributed load (UDL) needs to be considered. This is the horizontal force that the balustrade’s midsection will have to withstand.
The final consideration is the concentrated load. This is the horizontal load that accounts for any sudden force, such as an impact from an individual.
Choose Stainless Handrail Products
When you are planning your project, you want kit to come from a company you can trust. We know just about all there is to know about glass and aluminium systems. Get in touch today for a free quote and find out why our expert team of technicians are the best in the business.