Planning for Stainless Steel Railing

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Published: 29th March 2012
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Stainless Steel Railing (SSR)

Stainless Steel Railing (SSR) systems are becoming the choice for modern railing among architects, interior designers, builders and Do-It-Yourself (DIY) homeowners.

SSR systems are used as an open space guardrail for interior and outdoor constructions, often used for balconies, decks and staircases. They are a preferred guardrail choice because of their attractive modern design, durability and low maintenance.

Originally, SSR systems were often designed by architects and interior designers, custom built by manufacturers and installed by experts with welding skills. Alternatively, SSR modular systems were created as a result of feedback and years of experience from builders to manufacturers. The modular systems have grown in popularity because they require no welding, and as a result, have become increasingly available to DIY homeowners.

Today, SSR modular systems offer a high quality, convenient and affordable market option that meet or exceed commercial-grade SSR systems.

There are many different types of SSR systems, but the most popular ones are glass and cable systems.

Stainless Steel Glass Railing

The glass systems are made of square or round posts with glass clamp attachments. The area in-between the posts is filled with glass or Plexiglass. Typically, the glass is tempered or laminated with polished edges. The glass thickness can vary from ¼”, ⅜” or ½”, depending on the distance between the posts. An additional top rail can be added for better support. The railing height usually varies between 36” to 42”, depending on the area between residential and commercial requirements, in addition to local building codes.

For example, California building code usually requires 42” high railing for commercial and residential construction. Other areas of the country require 36” for residential and 42” for commercial.

In the case when the height is 42” and the railing is used as a guardrail for stairs, a handrail (or grab bar) is required at a height between 34” and 36”. This handrail is usually mounted on the side of the railing system with special brackets on the posts.

It is recommended that you check with your city’s building requirements before starting your project.

Stainless Steel Railing Cable Systems

The cable systems are made of a square or round post with parallel cables in between them. The top rail, in this case, is required in order to give additional stability to the system which also prevents the system from collapsing due to the pull action of the cables.

The distance between the cables should be less than 4” to satisfy the 4” sphere (child safety) test by the building inspector. Therefore, the distance between the cable is recommended to be approximately 3” for a 5/32” diameter-type of cable for a distance of 5 feet in between the posts, since a size of 4” shall not pass in the middle distance between the post while deflecting the cables.

The same rule of the glass systems apply to the cable systems when it comes to the height of the systems 36” or 42” and for the handrail existence on the stairs. It is worth mentioning that some codes require having a handrail on both sides of the stairs, while others require the handrail on one side only.

Railing on the Stairs

Designing railing on the stairs is obviously a more detailed job than the one on straight runs. The height of the system required by the code is measured from the nosing line of the stairs to the top of the top rail. On straight runs, the height is measured from the floor to the top of the top rail.

For example, John wants to build a railing of the height 36” on his stairs. The posts are to be mounted in the middle of the stair tread. The stairs have a rise distance of 10”. The total height of the post is going to be 36”, in addition to half of the rise 10” (5”), which totals 41”.

Properties of Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is a steel alloy that has superior corrosion resistant property than mild steel. Stainless steel is also a stronger steel than mild steel and has better resistance to sheer, load and compression forces.

Brushed or satin finish stainless steel has become increasingly popular compared to the the polished finish, because of its high quality aesthetic and low maintenance.

Ordering a Stainless Steel Railing System

The order process of railing systems depends on the availability of certain offered services by the selling company. It is highly advisable to work with a company that offers AutoCAD® drawing services for your staircase project, as well as for straight runs. This approach minimizes errors and confusion between the buyer and the seller. There are companies that offer this as complimentary service.
Posts, especially staircase posts, will be custom fabricated according to the customer’s specific project dimensions.

The order process:
The customer provides pictures/drawings/dimensions to the seller.
The seller returns AutoCAD® drawings, with dimensions, to the customer for approval or modification.
Upon customer approval, the seller produces/fabricates the system.
The seller ships the system using parcel ground service (UPS or Fedex) and/or LTL truck freight shipping for over-sized items.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is advisory information. It is a builder’s responsibility to check and comply with international and local building codes.

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