Traditional Balcony Methods
What are Bolt-on Steel Balconies?
This type of balcony is a steel-framed structure bolted on to the building. Balconies can be cantilever or self-supporting with a timber or open mesh deck.
Disadvantages of Steel Bolt-on Balconies
Traditional cantilever steel bolt-on balconies offer the aesthetic appeal of no visible means of support. However, there are a number of disadvantages associated with this option and with the self-supporting type of bolt-on steel balcony:
- Time-consuming to install. Our Glide-On™ technology is proven to be up to 50% more efficient, allowing up to 34 balconies to be installed in just 6 hours compared with only 5-10 steel bolt-on balconies per day.
- Finishing works. Unlike bolt-on balconies, our Cassettes® come complete with preassembled soffits, fascia and decks etc, reducing finishing works and associated costs.
- The heavy weight of a steel balcony means that more brackets are required to connect back to the main structure. Our aluminium Cassettes® are approximately half the weight of steel. This reduces the number of anchor connections, saving cost and minimising the risk of cold bridging.
- Visible welds and fixings. Our Cassette® balconies are engineered to keep fixings discreet, with preassembled soffits that complete the underside.
- Health and safety hazard of installers having to connect the balcony from underneath while the crane holds its weight. Our Cassette® balconies simply glide-on to pre-erected support brackets, with no need for fixing from below under live load.
- Misalignment issues. This can occur with traditional RC frame casting, resulting in programme delays and costs. We provide templates with cast-in anchors so its Cassette® Glide-On™ balconies fit first time.
- Compared with traditional steel balconies, which need to align holes perfectly, our Cassettes® have a more adjustment both horizontally and vertically than steel balconies.
- Coordinating multiple trades on site. Our Cassette® balconies are manufactured offsite and arrive as fully assembled units, reducing trades on site.
- Overall cost. Typically, our Cassette® balconies, with their fast-track Glide-On™ connections, offer a more cost-effective solution than bolt-on balconies, with significant savings to be made through program and crane cost reductions, anchor quantity reduction and all soffits etc pre-fitted in the factory.
Below is a video of Bolt-On balconies being installed the traditional way. delivered to site, craned up and into their final position. Note the reason these are slow and how accuracy is so critical. Also, note how having men underneath has been designed out in the Glide-On™ balconies making them a much safer option.
What are Concrete Balconies?
There are two main types of concrete balcony:
Projecting: With this type of balcony the building’s concrete frame forms a projecting platform or cantilever concrete deck. A balustrade is fixed around the exposed perimeter.
Inset: Traditionally, this is an integrated concrete deck, which is recessed into the building façade. The open side is guarded with a balustrade.
Disadvantages of Concrete Balconies
Integrated concrete balconies can be used to stunning architectural effect. However, there are some disadvantages to this type of balcony.
- Finishing works. Traditional finishing methods can be costly and time-consuming. Using Sapphire Cassettes, which come complete prefinished with soffits, fascia and decking, saves time and labour on site.
- Coordinating multiple trades on site often causing confusion and delays. Sapphire Cassette® balconies are manufactured offsite and arrive as fully assembled units, reducing trades on site.
- Visible welds and fixings. Sapphire Cassette balconies are engineered to keep fixings discreet, with prefinished soffits that complete the underside.
- Waterproofing considerations. Concrete balconies tend to be treated like a flat roof and are usually finished with a waterproof Also, inset concrete balconies are directly above internal rooms, so the interfacing detail between the balustrade and the waterproofing on the balcony needs careful consideration. Sapphire Cassettes are specially engineered to overcome interfacing issues.
- Drainage provision. Traditional concrete balconies with upstands can trap water and form a pond. To meet NHBC regulations, adequate provision for drainage must be considered at an early stage and integrated into the balcony design. Sapphire Cassettes can be supplied with a built-in drainage system that meets regulations and saves time on site.
- Integrated concrete balconies offer no void in which to run unsightly pipes, balcony drainage connections etc. All details can be incorporated into the Sapphire Cassette module offsite, avoiding the cost and hassle of on site works
- Health and safety on site. When installing traditional balconies there is the potential hazard of people working underneath a balcony to fix soffits and fascias. Sapphire’s aluminium Cassettes are delivered to site fully finished, ready to be lifted into position for final fixing from above.
- Glass handling. Lifting and installing large panels of glass on site can be a safety hazard and there is also the risk of damaging glass during handling. With Sapphire’s Cassette balconies, the glass is already in place.
- Overall cost. In most cases, Sapphire’s Glide-On™ balcony system can provide a better all-round solution without a lot of the interfacing issues and costs associated with concrete balconies.
- Thermal breaks. Concrete balconies must have a continuous thermal break along all connecting edges which increases costs dramatically. Sapphire’s Glide-On™ system only needs thermal breaks on the arms.
- Concrete slabs must be thicker than Cassettes® in order to meet the NHBC requirement for a 150mm splashback. Concrete balconies cannot draw rainwater and are therefore required to have a splashback, this significantly increases the weight of the balcony increasing the strain on the building. Sapphire Cassette® balconies have drainage solutions built-in allowing for extra slim cassettes and lightweight balconies.
- Balustrade posts require a minimum thickness in concrete balconies to prevent the underside cracking out when drilling. Sapphire balconies have prefinished balustrades secured into the Cassette®.
- Decking and soffits must be installed on site including pedestals and rails which add weight to the structure and time to the project. Installation typically requires two installers increasing site costs. Sapphire balconies are prefinished requiring only the final decking boards to be secured.120
At Sapphire we’ve had years of experience working with concrete balconies but found so many disadvantages caused unnecessary delays and headaches on site. As a result, we found a better solution that provides all of the benefits associated with concrete and more, without the hang-ups.
What are Juliette/Juliet balconies?
A Juliet balcony is essentially a balcony consisting of a balustrade connection to the building facade without a deck to walk on; not, as many assume, a glass balcony.
Made famous by Shakespeare, made perfect by Sapphire, the Juliet (or Juliette) is a specialist balcony commonly used to protect openings such as French doors on an upper floor of a residential development. Sometimes specified where a full, walk-on balcony isn’t practical for design or budgetary reasons, the Juliet version offers an effective way to create an open, outdoor feel to an indoor space in an apartment, for example.
We only supply Juliet balconies as part of larger projects as they are technically only a balustrade in front of a door.