Content written by Antonia Harding from British Spirals & Castings
If you are interested in adding a balcony to your current or planned home, then there are a few things to consider:
There are a huge variety of balconies available. You could choose something as elegant and simple as a Juliet balcony. These compact features allow you to fit full height glass doors on upper floor rooms, flooding the room with natural light and air but do not offer any sort of seating area. Alternatively, you could opt for something far grander such as a large balcony or veranda which can act as a seating or decking area.
The first question most people ask when considering a balcony is whether or not you need planning permission. The simple answer is that you always need planning permission for a balcony that projects out from a building (excluding Juliette balconies). If the property is listed or situated within a conservation area there may also by additional restrictions. It is always worth contacting your local planning authority to confirm these details before committing to any work.
Your balcony should work as an integral part of your home rather than just something that is ‘stuck on’ as an afterthought. There are a number of materials and flooring gratings available which will all obviously affect the look. However, careful consideration needs to be given to how your balcony will be supported.
The simplest option is to fit a balcony using a bolt on structure, supported by gallows brackets or traditional columns. In some cases, it is necessary to fit the balcony using a cantilevered structure which ties directly to the floor of the home. This is a costlier option and requires a lot of structural work can sometimes be the only option if conservation areas do not allow for a self-supporting structure.
Design and Materials
Typically traditional timber decked balconies are the cheapest balcony solution but, as anyone with timber decking will know, they can be extremely slippy when wet. As the balcony surface is solid they can also cut out natural light to the rooms below.
In contrast, perforated steel or cast aluminium or cast iron decks can help to preserve natural light levels and allow water and dirt to drain away, ensuring they do not become a slip hazard. The decking plates and balustrades are available in a wide range of styles, from ornate Victorian patterns, to simple diamond patterns. Cast aluminium balconies are extremely strong and durable but weigh in at about one third of the weight of cast iron. This can make them cheaper and easier to fabricate, transport and fit.
Once you’ve considered the size, shape and design of the balcony, one final consideration is where you want to add external stair access. An external staircase makes it much simpler to move between a garden and the balcony without having to traipse through your house.
The most suitable staircase will depend on the height of your balcony and the garden space available. Wide, straight staircases are ideal if the balcony serves as the main access route to the garden, whilst a metal spiral staircase can provide a stylish, compact option for first or second storey balconies.
Enjoy Outdoor Living
The addition of a balcony or veranda can completely transform how you use your home, and the enjoyment you get from it. The simple, low maintenance spaces make it easy to enjoy the pleasant summer months outside, helping to seamlessly blend indoor and outdoor spaces.