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What to consider before ordering a staircase or balcony

04 October 2023

Straight steel and timber staircase

When ordering a staircase and balcony, there are lots of important questions to consider. In this blog we’ll talk through some of the most important ones. We’d also recommend getting in touch with us at the earliest possible stage, as we can work with you answer many of these with you. This means this can all be factored into the initial design, ensuring a smoother process from design right through to installation.

Key considerations and challenges

The first thing to consider is if there are any specific challenges posed by your project. These could be things that you might not have ordinarily thought of as a challenge until you’re far into the process, and at this point this could led to unexpected delays. These can cover a range of things:

  1. Are there any site or planning restrictions? These can vary greatly from project to project, and they can force people to reconsider the dimensions of the staircase or balcony they’ve chosen, the installation process, and the choice of materials – especially relevant in the case of conservation areas.
  2. What substrate is being used? If you’re planning to fit the staircase or balcony into an existing structure or substrate i.e., a brick wall, you will need to think about which fixtures and fittings are appropriate. This may impact the design of supporting brackets we use.
  3. Does it need to match an existing design? It may be the case in a conservation area that the staircase or balcony needs to match the existing metalwork or style.
  4. Are the building walls out of square or plumb? The walls of most buildings are rarely even, and older buildings can undulate. In any project’s design stage, the exact measurements of the building needs to be taken into account early, so there are no surprises when it comes to installing the piece. In addition to a trusty plumb line or level, we can also carry out laser scanning of sites to precisely capture the undulations of your building.
  5. Is your project in a seaside location? For balconies and staircases that are external, its always important to factor in the weather. Exposure to saline air can degrade some structures over time. We can work with trusted partners to provide a marine grade finish will offer the best protection and preservation for your project.
  6. Who will be using to staircase or balcony? This could impact a number of things, such as the rises of a staircase, the height of railings, or the widths of balconies. For example, public buildings will have more stringent regulations regarding the height of railings and the gaps between balusters – but any building that could be used by children under five will have to adhere to requirements that protect them.
  7. Which other Building Regulations apply? Depending on where your project is located and what its end use is, a number of specific Building Regulations may apply.

As mentioned, we can work with you to answer each of the above questions and find the best solution for your project. In addition to these potential challenges, there are a few other key questions that we can work with you to answer.

Riser bars

What materials should you use?

As manufacturers of bespoke pieces made from a range of materials, we’re often surprised when the material selection on a project is treated as an afterthought.

There can often be misconceptions of what material you should specify for your project – such as thinking that wrought iron is the best, or only, choice for railings. While this could be true for conservation areas or when the materials are pre-defined due to planning restrictions, in most cases the material is rarely specified, and defaulting to cast or wrought iron can add unnecessary cost or complication to a project.

Any material options are best to be discussed at the earliest design stage, as the material can impact the types of designs and finishes that are easily achievable, as well as the overall cost.

What design do you want for your project?

There are endless possibilities for how your piece can look, especially when you can opt for a completely bespoke design. You may need to ask yourself how intricate of a design you want for your project; different levels of intricacy can mean different materials such as laser cut steel, or wrought iron, need to be used for the project. It’s worth considering how a highly intricate or bespoke design will be more costly and have a longer lead time than one based on an existing mould. We have a range of beautifully designed moulds to choose from, drawn from thousands of period architectural patterns, that can suit any style or taste – or we can match the design of existing balusters, railings and gratings for your bespoke project.

What type of finish do you want?

Last, but not least, considering the finish you want at the start of your project will give you a piece you’re truly happy with at the end. The finishes may be defined by the material choice, or the planning approach, so should be considered alongside everything else. For cast aluminium pieces, powder coating can give a smooth and even finish on both external and internal jobs. Powder coated pieces are more resistant to fading, corrosion, chips and scratches – so it’s worth considering how a piece might be used in a certain environment.

If you’re wanting a unique coloured finish, it’s worth discussing with a manufacturer how this can be achieved. We offer a wide range of RAL colours for powder coating to suit any project, and our trusted partners can also provide marine grade painted finishes in many colours for the cast or wrought iron pieces.

Working with British Spirals & Castings

The key to achieving the highest quality results for your project is to bring the manufacturer in as early as possible. At British Spirals & Castings, we can collaborate with you to address any challenge and find a solution that works for your project.

Get in touch

If you are interested in having a spiral staircase, balcony or railing designed and installed in your own property, visit our gallery to view some of the options and submit a quote or get in touch via phone or email.

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