Author Topic: Updating stairway balusters to current code?  (Read 621 times)

Anon in Alaska

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 112
Updating stairway balusters to current code?
« on: July 10, 2018, 01:48:30 AM »
Hi, My condo building has stairways with wrought iron balusters about 6.5-7" apart. I'm the president of the board of directors here, and we're trying to figure out what to do. The current standard is that balusters not be more than 4" apart. We want to fix them to comply with the new code. I'm in Anchorage, Alaska, USA.

(We're grandfathered to the old code but this is a safety issue, so it's more accurate to say we want to fix them then that we need to. We don't want some kid to get its head stuck between our current balusters, nor pay potential legal costs.)

We have a three story building with stairs at each end from 1st to second and from second to third. We also have side stairs from second to first. Our stairways all have walls on one side so it's really just one side that needs to be fixed, so this is (one side) of six sets of stairs. We may also need to narrow the railings on our front porch (our back and side porches are newer, and meet the new code).

Per our property manager our choices are:
"1) To add in lattice fencing. This would require minimal cost and labor but may not be the most aesthetically pleasing option.

2) Another option would be to match existing material and add in additional balusters. (I.e weld new balusters between each of the current balusters).

3) You could also redesign these areas and build with all new material but this will likely be cost prohibitive."

4) Something else our property manager did not think of.

Option three seems too expensive to me. Suggestions?
« Last Edit: July 10, 2018, 01:52:09 AM by Anon in Alaska »

sokoloff

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1198
Re: Updating stairway balusters to current code?
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2018, 05:33:21 AM »
#1 will look horrible, IMO.
#2 will be a lot of labor, but is probably the best looking solution.
#3 might be almost as cheap as #2 if you change to a cheaper material than wrought iron.

Iíd be inclined to get bids on #2 at least and see what that looked like. Putting another baluster in between the existing ones is a grind, clean, weld, grind, prime, paint operation. Itís going to be a lot of labor and for a qualified welder, a fair bit of expense. Itís also probably the best looking, lowest long-term maintenance, and safest option.

TheWifeHalf

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 499
Re: Updating stairway balusters to current code?
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2018, 07:52:29 AM »
I vote #2, but I would get something that complements, but doesn't exactly match, the existing. Of course I don't know exactly how it all looks, but the new could be used as a design element.

Fishindude

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1803
Re: Updating stairway balusters to current code?
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2018, 01:30:04 PM »
If existing stuff is in good shape and could be easily replicated, I'd got route #2.   Have existing stuff sand blasted, weld in the new, then prime & paint the whole works and it will look good as new.  Shouldn't be too difficult to find a competent firm to do this.

thedigitalone

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 69
  • Location: PNW
Re: Updating stairway balusters to current code?
« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2018, 04:09:29 PM »
We stayed in a condo built in the 70's with a spiral staircase in the center and a full foot between each baluster. The HOA drilled and threaded heavy-duty stainless cables though each baluster about 4" apart which closed the gap up horizontally rather than vertically. It looked pretty good in the end, not perfect, but cheap and fast.

BudgetSlasher

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 510
Re: Updating stairway balusters to current code?
« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2018, 08:06:41 PM »
We stayed in a condo built in the 70's with a spiral staircase in the center and a full foot between each baluster. The HOA drilled and threaded heavy-duty stainless cables though each baluster about 4" apart which closed the gap up horizontally rather than vertically. It looked pretty good in the end, not perfect, but cheap and fast.

A solution like this was my first thought.

Even done well it will look a little out of place, but I find that the charm of, at least some, older buildings; that you can see how they have evolved over time to meet the evolving demands.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2990
  • Location: Emmaus, PA
Re: Updating stairway balusters to current code?
« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2018, 08:20:02 PM »
Strong transparent acrylic along the balustrade? Would look funny close up but it would be cheap and fast.

px4shooter

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 88
Re: Updating stairway balusters to current code?
« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2018, 06:41:04 AM »
Who is paying for it?

The amount of money dictates the options. Welding pieces in between is not a bad idea, but a welder isn't a cheap labor option. Then you have concerns over paint vs the current coating.

The cable idea is simple and cheaper, but you need multiple cables to reduce the gap threat.