Which balcony system is safer?

Bolt On Balcony System

Bolt On Balcony System Example


deteriorating cantilever balcony example (not made by Midwest Stairs & Iron)

Failing Cantilever Balcony Example

Know More About Bolt On Balconies

If you have a question about your current cantilever balconies, or want to know more about bolt on balconies, call Midwest Stairs & Iron. We are retrofitting bolt on balconies to replace cantilever balconies, and identifying life safety issues of cantilever balconies across the country.

Cantilever Balconies vs Bolt On Balconies

Bolt on balconies are safer than cantilever balconies. The recent tragedy of the cantilever balcony in Berkeley, CA raised awareness of the potential catastrophic failure of cantilever balconies. The tragedy demonstrated how hidden joists can hide dangerous rotting conditions, within just eight years! The engineers who inspected the site said there were clear signs that the beams supporting the deck had rotted due to water exposure.

What are cantilever balconies?

Cantilever balconies allow a balcony to hang without external bracing. Usually, a cantilever balcony uses joists that pass through the building wall. The area of installation is often out of sight from above, and may be well above eye level from below.

What are bolt on balconies?

Bolt on balconies are self-supporting balconies with bolt attachments on the side of the building and in plain view.

What advantages do bolt on balconies have over cantilever balconies?

Cantilever Balconies

Anyone can do a basic visual inspection for ensured and continually safety of a bolt on balcony. The most difficult challenge with a cantilever balcony is maintaining a weather tight joint where the joists pass through the wall. Joists will move with changes in moisture and temperature, as the result of expansion and contraction. Unseen rot and water damage often result, with a great risk of noticing when it’s too late for the cantilever balcony. Caulk is often the weather sealant from water damage, and caulk wears quickly in outdoor elements. To rebuild a cantilever balcony often takes having to repair the inside joists, removing drywall, and fixing extensive damage to the inside of units, which can be a lengthy and pricey option.

Bolt-On Self-Supporting Balconies

Bolt on balconies are self supporting to the building. No joists exist within hidden view. Installation is two to three times faster than a cantilever balcony, if made and shipped complete by Midwest Stairs & Iron. Longevity is enhanced with secure connections, metal construction, and powder coating. A bolt on balcony is typically made out of aluminum or steel, with options of glass railing, acrylic railing, cable railing, etc. The steel or aluminum can be powder coated with a wide spectrum of colors. Aluminum balconies are growing fast in popularity for their enhanced resistance to the weather elements. One of the best things about bolt on balconies is the ability to easily remove and reinstall whether you want a new color, new style, or for some reason someone took a sledgehammer and did some damage. Tenants like the feeling of safety and aesthetics. Architects like the vast design possibilities. Property developers like the cost value and life safety enhancement.

How to test your current cantilever balcony for safety?

Call an expert. An expert will inspect methods that may include using a ladder to examine the cantilevered joists at their point of wall penetration. The tool is to use a screwdriver or awl to probe the joists, look for gaps, and punch a small hole to check for rot. The inside of the building may show signs of water damage, or a bump in the floor. A weak frame is a life safety hazard, and is a constant problem in traditional cantilever construction at low-rise apartments and condominium complexes.

What is the maximum size of a bolt on balcony?

Choosing a balcony system is important to life safety. Bolt on balconies and diligent inspections can greatly minimize the risk of becoming a news story. A true self-supporting bolt on balcony currently has a maximum size of 6’ depth x 20’ width; additional modifications can be made to support larger sizes.