The Real Estate Encyclopedia
The Rules And Regulations For The Safe Use Of Timber Balustrades
Category - Home Ownership Questions - Building Your Home FAQ's

The information provided in this article is based on that provided in the Building Code of Australia (BCA), which all buildings are required to comply with. The BCA is mainly concerned with the safety of building users and occupants, so the design and construction must take into consideration both the strength and durability of materials and components as well as the constraints outlined in the BCA. It is important to ensure that your timber balustrade complies.

The regulations in place require that timber balustrades and railings (together with members and connections, which provide structural support) to be able to resist 0.9 kN inward, outward and downward loads at any point. It also requires that balustrades and handrails be able to resist an inward, outward or downward uniform load of 0.6 Kn/m for single occupancy private dwellings and 1.13 kN/m for all others.

In locations that are exposed to the elements or where they will be otherwise subjected to sources of moisture, the balustrades and handrails should be either a Class 1 or Class 2 species (such as blackbutt, spotted gum or jarrah). In locations that are internal and, therefore, not exposed to the elements, timber species of any class are suitable. The timber should, however, be free of major strength reducing features.

Corrosion Resistance
In weather exposed locations, all metal connectors (including nails, bolts, screws and brackets) should be a minimum of hot dipped galvanised or (in the case of screws) should feature a minimum Class 3 corrosion resistance. In coastal environments that are subjected to airborne salt deposition, stainless steel or equivalent corrosion resistant metal connections should be used to prevent rusting and other issues.

Painting & Finishing
For unprimed timber, nail holes should be stopped with an exterior grade wood filler. All surfaces, ends and joints should be primed prior to assembly. Final topcoats of paint or stain should then be applied. For protective coated LOSP treated timber, nail holes should also be stopped with an exterior grade wood filler. Once the primer has dried, two full coats of premium 100% acrylic topcoat should be applied.

When hardwoods have been used for the construction of a timber balustrade, 2/2.5 diameter nails should penetrate a minimum of 22mm and 2/2.8 diameter nails should penetrate a minimum of 20mm. When softwoods have been used, 2/2.5 diameter nails should penetrate a minimum 53mm and 2/2.8 diameter nails should penetrate a minimum of 47mm. Both types require number 8 and 10 screws to penetrate 15mm.

We hope that you find the above information useful in ensuring that your timber balustrade not only complies with BCA and other legal requirements, as well as in ensuring the safety of building users. Donít forget that there are plenty of other BCA requirements that you need to be aware of, such as minimum heights and sizes for your balustrade. If you suspect that your builder is not complying with these requirements, be sure to bring it up immediately.

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