- Style and Ascetics
- Strength and Durability
- Cost and Maintenance
- Meeting mandated engineering/design criteria of local, state and national building codes such as:
- Spacing maximums between independent members
- The handrail “grasp ability” for ADA compliance
- The connection and mounting pull out values
- Will the acidity of a salt laden atmosphere negate the load values of the original system?
- Water infiltration
- Reduction in strength due to rust, oxidation or other corrosion, electrolysis
- Degradation caused by ultra violet sunlight
- Will the system retain sufficient margins of safety once the influence of use, abuse, the environment and weather take their toll? Keep in mind that testing is done in a controlled environment.
- How do you insure that proper installation and fastening will maintain the same safety margins?
- Does your source handle or make just one or two types of railing?
- Will they attempt to steer you to their own, even when a system more appropriate may be available?
- Not all rail is created equal. As with most products, there is often a good, better, or best grade in each category. Is your source knowledgeably concerning the benefits of various paints, power coatings, metals, plastics, gauges and qualities of both metals and thermoplastics? What experience do they have with each?
- Aluminum. What gauge? Welded or mechanical? Painted or Powder Coated? What pre-treatment is used to insure adhesion of the finish? Can this material withstand the effects of a coastal salt laden environment? Is the system a boxed program, designed to be field trimmed and fabricated, or is it made to fit my building? What danger is there that if not properly field assembled, the system will maintain its strength and therefore, code compliance?
- Thermoplastics. Plastics are “recipes” or formulas. What type of plastic? Is it PVC, ASA, HDPE? Can I use the same PVC residential deck railing on a commercial structure? Is the railing reinforced for strength? Do the issues common to some plastics, that of fading, brittleness, lack of colors, etc., apply to all type of plastics? Why would one use a “plastic” system in a highly corrosive of abusive application?
- Steel. What grade and gauge of steel? What about the finish and potential for rust? Is the system welded or mechanical?
- Number one, it’s what everyone knows ― as wet paint is what we grew up with. In our younger years, we went to the local hardware store and bought a bucket of paint. We did not purchase a bag or a drum of powder!
- Second, the wet paint manufacturers have done an admirable job, making it easy to specify their products ― there are color wheels everywhere.
- Third, certain exterior building components, window-curtain wall systems, and metal building facades are provided in a “wet paint” finish and the designer is looking for the railings to match.
- Will the railing system meet all relevant building codes? More importantly, will it maintain its performance standards over time or will it diminish under the pressure of environmental conditions?
- It the railing system requires maintenance, how much will it cost? How often will it have to be maintained? How long will it take to complete?
- Is the railing system’s appearance consistent with the image you wish to present?
- Why the fuss about railing?
- But why plastic railing??
- Corrosion resistant.
- Does not fade, crack, or peel.
- Complies with all national building codes.
- Flexible design.
- Smooth, high-gloss finish.
It’s light and strong, beautiful and recyclable. And it won’t cost you a fortune.
It’s strong – Aluminum profiles can be made as strong as needed for most applications. Cold-weather applications are particularly well-served by aluminum because, as temperatures fall, aluminum actually becomes stronger. Read the rest of this entry »