Vertical bar bolt on balconies

The benefits of steel over concrete for projecting balconies

Using steel has become increasingly popular in balcony construction, where architects and developers want to create a stylish and modern appearance. There are many advantages that the material offers including a lower requirement for maintenance, lower impact on the environment, and high levels of durability.  However, aside from the material benefits of steel, what are the benefits to your project of choosing a steel balcony over a concrete alternative? Our team at Brooksby have identified the major benefits below:

Reduced Scaffolding, removing balcony install from the critical path
Because our steel balconies are manufactured off-site, they are brought to site already constructed and assembled as one complete unit. This achieves instant edge protection due to the balustrades being fitted in the factory, removing the need for temporary edge protection.  This allows the scaffolding to be struck at the earliest possible opportunity, prior to the install of balconies, in effect removing the balcony install from the critical path, significantly reducing the costs of the overall construction.  This then frees up the area directly below for groundworks.

In addition, with our slide-on FlightDeck® balconies, we can work from top-down, and install balconies directly behind the scaffold strike, before all the scaffold is down. (Conversely with traditional steel bolt-on balconies you can’t start installing balconies until the scaffold is fully struck as you must work from the ‘bottom up’.)

However, with cast-in concrete balconies, scaffolding is inevitably an expensive factor, especially if it cannot be erected in straight runs, and it must remain up for the duration of the balcony install.

Reduced crane time
In the same vein as reduced scaffolding costs, a reduction in requirements for a crane will also significantly lower costs. This is increasingly evident with our Flight Deck® slide on, cantilevered balcony system, where pre-manufactured balconies slide onto pre-installed arms in the building structure, minimising crane time drastically.

No propping required
Steel balconies use cast-in connectors which are installed by the frame contractor.  These connections back to the frame of the building are all that is required to support the structure of a steel balcony during installation and thereafter.  However, with concrete balconies there is a need to support the formwork with costly and timely set up and removal.

Increased thermal performance
With steel balconies the connections into the building frame are much less extensive, so the opportunity for thermal transfer is much reduced, giving improved thermal performance.

Waterproofing details removed
With a concrete balcony the whole surface of the balcony requires manual waterproofing, however with a steel balcony the drainage requirement is installed off-site beforehand in our factory to our exacting standards, once again reducing the need for on-site work.

No on-site drilling and dust
With steel balconies, there is no need for any on-site drilling. With steel balconies having the benefit of offsite manufacture, there will be no dust from drilling for balustrade posts, which reduces the silica dust risk. It also reduces the opportunity of imperfections or damage within the balconies caused by additional dust on-site. Drilling, which is required with concrete balconies, often involves additional complications such as penetrating re-enforcing bar causing delay and extra cost.

Reduced Health & Safety risks
When concrete balconies are installed in-situ, there will be more people working on site in the same proximity. This inevitably heightens the Health and Safety risks.  Steel slide-on FlightDeck® balconies can also be installed in less time, reducing the timeframe of the overall construction programme. They can also be installed from the top-down, no longer having to be fixed from the balcony below, achieving HSE compliance by removing the need for people to work under a live load, thereby eliminating another potential danger.

Quality factory finish
When you can control the environments in which you build balconies, you can maximise the quality and finish of the final product. On construction sites, there are many variables which can alter the quality of each balcony, meaning some will inevitably be produced with imperfections. Concrete balconies will require site fitting of all soffits, facias, balustrading and decking. Off-site manufacture of steel balconies ensures they are all made with the same quality finish, giving peace of mind and the required consistency for your build. In addition, we encourage clients to visit our purpose-built assembly facility during the manufacturing phase. This allows a first-hand look at the finished balcony prior to installation.

Lower Cost
Although at first sight concrete may appear to be a lower cost option, it will certainly not be once all the hidden costs of the points raised above are considered. Additional programme time, scaffolding, crane time and balcony imperfections will all add up to significant but hidden on-costs.

If you would like to know more about how Brooksby manufacture our FlightDeck® steel balconies offsite for construction projects across the UK, please do not hesitate to get in touch with one of our team today on 020 7731 3310.