Decking balustrade – should I have one?

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A decking balustrade (also called a decking parapet) can be an important consideration in many instances. Firstly, it offers a reassuring safety element to any raised edge, even when the level is quite low.

The increased interest in multi-level decks has meant a greater requirement for decking balustrades – particularly when elderly people or young children are likely to use the deck.

But balustrades can be more than a safety feature. With so many designs and styles available, it can be a clear design element too. Not only is wood a common material to use, there are many examples of decking balustrades made from more contemporary materials much as metal and glass. These can complement the timber very well and provide safety coupled with a particular style.

We would advise that you consider including a deck balustrade into your design, even if you have just a low step – if your decking is not flush to the ground, there is always the hazard of tripping.

The balustrade does not have to be full height – this should depend on how high the deck is from the ground:

For 'low-level' decks up to 600mm from ground level – decking balustrade height should be 900mm.

For 'high-level' decks over 600mm high – decking balustrade height should be 1100mm. 

Bear in mind that when they are used as a safety barrier, they must conform to UK building regulations (the Building Regulations for England and Wales and the Technical Standards for Scotland). 

The TDCA can provide you with a Technical Bulletin that covers the issue of decking balustrade design and construction (Publication number TB04). This is available for free if you register with us (and this is free to do). Alternatively, you can purchase the Bulletin for a cost of £5. Please click here to learn more.