Balconies are deck-like structures projecting from the wall above the ground floor of a building. These structures get their structural support from vertical pillars and their likes. They are partly present to make up for the absence of a lawn or garden in accommodations above the ground floor.
A balcony can positively affect the overall look of your home’s exterior. It creates more outdoor space for a wide range of activities like hosting family and friends, a quick meal in the open, or relaxing. However, with how often people use this structure; it must be solid and safe.
Some balconies look safer than others. For example, balconies with posts or vertical pillars appear safer than balconies without posts because there is no visible support underneath. However, architectural advancements have allowed balconies to stay suspended above the ground floor without posts.
This post discusses how to build balconies without, including the different types of balconies out there.
How To Build A Balcony Without Posts
Balconies without posts primarily use building walls as support. Therefore, to successfully build a balcony without posts, you would need to consult an engineer.
Below is a simple guide to building a balcony without a post:
Create your balcony design plan:
Before beginning the construction process, you must create a plan. The design plan is your balcony’s blueprint.
While creating your balcony’s design, you must adhere to the city’s building codes for the construction of balconies. A licensed engineer should be familiar with these guidelines and would help you stay in check.
Also, create your design plans with the dimensions and materials you intend to use for the balcony structure. This stage is where you decide on the overall outlook of your intended balcony.
Purchase the required materials:
Usually, the balcony design would determine the materials you need for construction. Creating a design plan allows you to know what you need to build your balcony.
You can easily get the materials at hardware stores. Some of the materials you would need are a carpenter square, pressure-treated lumber, wood screws level, lag bolts, circular saw, joist hanger, drill, and wood adhesive, including measuring tape.
Using your desired measurement cut out your floor joists and ledger. Then join the cut pieces together with nails. Ensure you use lag bolts (at least 6 inches) to hold the ledger in place.
For the floor joists, check to see if there are any building regulations regarding joists spacing before you start installing floor joists. Then use the joist hangers to hold the floor joist in place.
Next is the subfloor. Glue and screw your subfloor to the joists for maximum security. Note that you should carefully select the subfloor material. You can use plywood.
Attach railing support and handrails:
The standard height for balcony railing support is between 36-42 inches above the balcony ground. So, cut 4-by-4 inches lumber to the standard railing height and attach them to the installed subflooring.
Attach the handrails to the support railing. Ensure that you use materials perfectly sized for easy grip. The balusters you use must have at most four inches of space between them. You can also design it in whatever fashion you desire.
Complete the flooring:
Cut the lumber for the main balcony flooring using the dimensions and the floor plan in your design plan. Then use both adhesive and glue to attach it to the subflooring.
Now that everything is set, you can work on sealing and painting the balcony, especially the railing support and the handrails.
Types Of Balcony Without Post
There are different types of balconies. One of the most popular types has posts or vertical pillars. However, those without posts are as popular as those with posts. Here are types of balconies without posts:
A cantilevered or projecting balcony:
These balconies are supported by cantilevering off a wall. They protrude from a building without any visible support. Cantilevered balconies usually have chains or gallows brackets.
Years ago, engineers made cantilevered balconies from concrete or steel. But with architectural advancements, cantilevered balconies have become more aesthetically pleasing.
It may be challenging to add a cantilevered balcony to an already existing building because of the pre-planning required. Therefore, cantilevered balconies are carefully designed before construction begins.
A cantilevered balcony shouldn’t have more than 1800mm depth. Anything more than the maximum depth of 1800mm causes an increase in the force, and this would require solutions that are more technical. Too much depth can cause too many bouncing movements, which may be uncomfortable for the balcony users.
Hung balconies are not as common as cantilevered balconies or any other types of balconies. These types of balconies hang from the wall of a building with a steel cable as support.
The balcony is usually constructed in a position perpendicular to the building. The steel cable runs from the balcony’s edge to the wall of the building (with a large plate), usually at an angle of 45°. Hung balconies are as aesthetically pleasing as the cantilevered ones.
Factors To Consider When Building A Balcony Without Post
With the help of an engineer, you can construct a balcony that fits your needs. Typically, it would be best if you determined the overall outlook of your balcony. Here are a few things to deal with before constructing your balcony:
The materials to use:
Generally, materials used for balconies include cement, wood, vinyl, and wood composite. The choice of material can affect the kind of activities that you can carry out on the balcony.
For example, wood looks good, and it might be a good option for your exterior aesthetics, but it requires extra care and protection. Also, natural elements can easily damage wooden balconies if it isn’t adequately sealed.
Also, the chosen material affects the cost of constructing the balcony. For example, wood composite is a perfect alternative for wood, but it is expensive. On the other hand, vinyl and cement are some of the cheapest balcony materials. Therefore, using any of these materials can significantly increase or reduce the amount you spend on construction.
So, vinyl doesn’t cost much. It is easy to install, but it isn’t as firm as cement or as aesthetically pleasing as wood. On the other hand, cement is not as expensive as wood composite. It is a solid material for your balcony, but it isn’t the easiest to install.
The size of the balcony:
It is vital that you know the size of your balcony, including how it fits into your building before construction starts. Put heads together with your contractor to figure out how to make your needs a reality.
The activities carried out, determines the size of the balcony. Other factors like how the size of your house, proximity to neighbors affect the size of your balcony, and the type
Before you construct your balcony, you must consider the amount of load you may expose it to against the amount of support strength it would have. You should also be aware of balcony weight limits in your city.
The engineer should educate you on the load-bearing capacity of the balcony, including what it means for your structure.
How Much Weight Can A Balcony Without Post Carry
As much as balconies without posts don’t have support pillars, they are as reliable as any other balcony type. All-balcony types have weight limits per square foot.
The average well-designed balcony can hold 22-45 kg per square foot. The material, design, and construction time all play a significant role in determining the weight limit of a balcony (with or without a post).
Do You Need A Professional For Balcony Without Post Construction?
Yes. You must employ a professional for every balcony construction. According to research in the United States, 500 people get injured from balcony and deck collapses every year. This study shows that we need to properly and adequately construct our balconies, and to achieve this, we must employ skilled and licensed professionals.
A licensed engineer would ensure that your design and construction plan adhere to building codes. They also organize the whole construction process to ensure that your balcony comes out well and strong. You would save yourself future costs by using the professional help needed for your balcony.
How Much Does It Cost To Build A Balcony Without Post
How much your balcony costs would depend on many factors. Top on the list is whether you’re building the balcony with a house from scratch or whether you’re adding a balcony to an existing building.
For the former, which is the case for cantilevered balconies, the contractor would probably factor the cost of the balcony into the budget for the house.
However, if you’re adding a balcony to your existing house, the size, materials, height, finishes, and labor cost affect cost.
According to the home advisor, it would take about $2000- $7000 to build a small to a medium-sized balcony. The price could go above this, depending on the material chosen.
Balconies without posts are solid if properly constructed. They are durable if properly maintained and are aesthetically pleasing for hosting family, friends, or even relaxing.
This post is an overview of what it takes to construct balconies without posts, their different types, and how much they cost.