In Australia, builders have to comply with the Building Code of Australia (BCA) which specifies a number of different requirements for balustrades, stairs and handrails. This is true whether the balustrade is indoors or outdoors, on a landing or patio, or many metres above the ground in blocks of units or multi-storey commercial developments. 

When installing a balustrade at your building, there’s a number of building code regulations that you need to know about. 

Homeowners, building managers and body corporates should know what is involved in installing compliant balustrades – not just the builder. That way, you can ensure that your builder or construction contractor installs the safest railing system possible that will perform well for many years to come. 

When do you need a balustrade? 

A balustrade is required for any type of walkway, stairway, balcony or deck, where the floor level changes by more than 1000mm. 

How high does a balustrade need to be? 

One of the most important things is the height of the balustrade, and this is often where builders can trip up. 

The height must be 1 metre above the floor or ground which sounds simple enough. However, this refers to the finished height of the floor: meaning when floor coverings like tiles, carpet or decking beams are added, the installer can unwittingly raise the floor height so that the balustrade is no longer compliant.

Standard ULTRALOX panels come with a minimum height of 1050mm to comply with Australian standards and building regulations. This means that builders have 50mm of leeway to work with, ensuring even the thickest tiles and carpet can be installed without compromising the effectiveness and safety of the balustrade. 

What about balustrades on multi-storey buildings?

For buildings with multiple floors such as apartment buildings, hotels, commercial developments and units, there are extra regulations to take into consideration. 

Floors or levels that span more than 4 metres above the level below must have extra safe balustrades installed. In particular, any horizontal elements must be designed in such a way that they are difficult to climb. This is applicable to any part of the balustrade that sits between 150mm and 760mm above the floor. 

This means that any decorative elements or cross pieces are generally a bad idea on balustrades that are used on multi-storey buildings. 

That’s why ULTRALOX balustrades have a single low cross piece for support with no through pieces in the middle that might make it easy for someone to climb. 

What is the lifespan of a balustrade? 

Another key factor when reviewing Australian balustrade regulations is that they apply to all installations, not just new projects. 

That means that over a number of years, a balustrade can be subject to weathering or wear and tear which could render it non-compliant. This is particularly relevant when looking at wooden balustrades: being a natural material, wood is prone to rot, splinter or warp meaning it can easily go from compliant to non-compliant in just a few years. Not to mention the regular maintenance to keep it in good shape!

That’s why smart homeowners and professional builders choose an aluminium balustrading system that will stand the test of time. Durable aluminium is engineered to last, looks great, and requires virtually no maintenance. 

Choose ULTRALOX to stay compliant with regulations

ULTRALOX is a prefabricated aluminium panel system that is coated in durable architectural grade powder coating. 

100% Australian compliant, it is engineered and approved to Australian Standard 1170 – Commercial and Residential Buildings. With several stylish designs available and a hidden fastener system, it is quick to install and compliments a range of different building styles. 

Contact ULTRALOX to find out more about safe and compliant balustrades and railings that will make your building look great for years to come.