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  • Balustrade Regulations

    Balustrade Regulations in Australia

    Balustrades are an essential part of any building or home. Balustrades are erected as a safety measure to protect people and prevent them from falling off any raised surface. This pertains to a surface that is at least a meter above the ground and includes balconies, terraces, patios and verandas. Balustrades are also built in areas that see the movement of people between various levels of the building like stairs and ramps. Since a balustrade is a safety structure, in Australia, builders are required to comply with balustrade regulations as set out in the Building Code of Australia (BCA).

    The Building Code of Australia Parts 3.9.1 and 3.9.2 Volume 2 and Australian Standard 1170.1 specify the standards to be complied with while constructing a balustrade. These standards deal with the safety issues relating to movement of people and require that a balustrade must be installed for any surface that is more than a meter above ground and not bounded by a wall. According to the Balustrade regulations in Australia, it is required to construct a balustrade at the edge of a staircase, corridor, inclined floor, hallway, pathway, mezzanine, patio or veranda.

    The rules specify that the height of the balustrade should be one meter above the finished floor surface including the flooring tiles, carpet, etc. It also needs to be stiff and sturdy enough so as not to collapse under the weight of a person leaning on it or exerting pressure on it. The balustrade can be equipped with a non-slip handrail.

    Balustrade Regulations in Australia:

    • 1. A balustrade must be at least one meter in height above a finished floor or where there is an open window it must be 4 meters in height.
    • 2. A balustrade on the inside edge of a landing must be at least 865 mm above the floor of the landing and not more than 500mm long.
    • 3. A transition zone needs to be created where the height changes from 865mm on the flight of stairs to 1 meter on the landing.
    • 4. The balustrade must be built so as to effectively prevent an adult or a child from falling through or going over it. Any openings in the balustrade cannot be more than 125mm; they must prevent a child from crawling through.
    • 5. The balustrade must be sturdy enough to withstand the pressure of an adult leaning against it or sitting on it. According to AS1170.1 of the BCA regulations, the balustrade must be able to take a point load of 0.6kN and distributed load of 0.4kN applied on the handrail. It should be able to take the impact of an adult falling against it and not collapse under the weight of people leaning against it. The handrails must also follow the same stringent standards.
    • 6. AS 1604 specifies that handrails, posts, balusters and newels must be made of natural timber of Class 1 or Class 2 category. Timber could be Ironbark, Spotted Gum, Blackbutt, Merbau, Kwila or Jarrah. If sapwood is used, it must be treated to H3 standard, to ensure the strength of the timber.
    • 7. All metal connectors, fitments, bolts, nails, screws and brackets must be hot dipped galvanised or corrosion resistant. In case of coastal environments where there is higher possibility of rusting, the BCA specifies that stainless steel or any other equivalent corrosion resistant metal fitments be used.
    • 8. All the holes in the balustrade must be filled up with exterior grade wood filler. All joints must be coated with Alkyloid primer and preservative coating must be applied on timber-to-timber joints. The BCA rules for balustrades state that all timber structures must be covered with at least two coats of exterior paint.

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