Composite balustrades are an excellent way to improve the safety of a new decking area and ensure your garden meets your local planning authority’s rules and regulations.
Ecoscape offers an extensive range of composite products that are perfect for UK installation thanks to their durability, longevity, and easy installation.
This guide will explore how to fit composite balustrades so you can enjoy a high-quality product that lasts a long time.
Composite balustrades are independent columns used to create a safety railing system on decking, terraces, and balconies.
They are an excellent way to ensure the safety of users on a raised deck or area that has a drop at the edge. Balustrades are also required on some stairs or steps that lead down from a decking area.
Composite is a popular material to use for decking and balustrades in the UK because of its ability to handle wet conditions. Unlike timber alternatives, composite won’t be affected by UV rays and doesn’t need the same level of maintenance.
The long-lasting material does not need to be treated or painted, and Ecoscape balustrades come with a 20-year warranty.
Ensuring composite balustrades are installed correctly is essential. Correct installation will help you to enjoy the best performance and ensure the railing system is safe for use in domestic or commercial settings.
Ecoscape not only offers high-quality products but installation advice is also provided to ensure you get the most from the materials.
Following the supplier installation guide lets you install the system to the manufacturer’s specifications. Failure to do this can result in a compromised performance from the balustrades and can even risk your warranty being invalidated.
You must also use approved accessories for installation for your warranty to be valid. The accessories and components are designed specifically for Ecoscape products and guarantee a good fit and performance.
Composite Balustrade Installation Guide
The following instructions and advice will help you to install Ecoscape composite balustrades. You should always follow the supplier instructions that will be provided with the materials you buy.
Installation guides will typically be similar, but there may be small differences unique to specific brands.
The safety and performance of your balustrades will depend on the quality of the installation. Only professionals or people with adequate experience should carry out an installation project like this in order for your balustrade system to work correctly.
Failure to properly install your balustrades will result in your warranty being invalidated.
To properly install composite balustrades, the following tools and equipment may be necessary.
- Tape Measure
- Spirit Level
- Power Drill
- Screw Driver
- Power Saw
- Non-Marking Mallet
Your PPE should include protective gloves, eye goggles or a protective face mask, dust mask, and ear protection if you use power tools.
When drilling or sawing, you must ensure you are working in a well-ventilated area to minimise the risk of ingesting air-borne particles.
Ecoscape Composite Balustrade Components
Your composite balustrade system supplied by Ecoscape will include the following;
- Handrail/Top rail
- Newel Post
- Post Cap
- Spindle Inserts
- Bolt Down Support
- Bottom Rail
You can explore a more detailed list of Ecoscape composite balustrade components on the following component list.
Step-by-Step Composite Balustrade Installation Guide
If you are planning a decking project and will be installing balustrades, the following step-by-step guide will help you ensure they are installed correctly.
Step 1 – Install Your Decking
The first step before you can even think about installing your balustrades is to install your decking area.
This will include preparing the area, installing decking pedestals or a subframe, and placing your joists.
You will then have to install your composite decking boards, remembering to allow thermal expansion gaps, a slight gradient of around 1%, and appropriate drainage and ventilation measures.
A full Ecoscape composite decking installation guide is available and should be followed for correct installation.
Step 2 – Preparing the Newel Post
You will need to cut the newel post to your desired length. This can be done with a standard hacksaw.
You should then insert tanalised timber (44 mm x 44 mm) into the newel. This will create a strong connection.
This insert should allow at least a 1 mm thermal expansion gap between the newel post’s inner wall and timber insert.
You should leave a 20 mm gap to allow the post cap to be fitted and a 700 mm void at the bottom if you are using Bolt Down Supports.
Step 3 – Newel Installation
To provide adequate support, use additional joist sections to box in the newel. You must ensure the position is square before fixing it to the substructure.
Use an M8 dome head coach bolt to secure the newel. Then use exterior screws to fix the substructure in place around the newel. Pre-drilling the fixings will minimise any risk of materials splitting.
Alternatively, you will be able to bolt the support down using 7.5 mm x 100 mm exterior grade masonry screws. Pre-drill the area before screening through the decking boards into the joist beneath.
Use a flexible adhesive to hold the newel in place, and you can file down the base to achieve a flush fit.
Step 4 – Cut the Handrails
If necessary, you should cut the handrails to size. This will be needed if the gaps between your newel posts are under 1,640 mm. Your handrails will form the bottom rail and top rail and hold the spindles in place.
Step 5 – Mark the Handrail’s Spindle Positions
You will have to mark the top and bottom handrails to place your spindles. They should never be spaced at a distance exceeding 99 mm.
Mark each position on both handrails and drill pilot holes in the centre point of the spindles. The grooved side of the top and bottom rails should face down to minimise the risk of water pooling.
Step 6 – Attach the Bottom Handrail
The bottom handrail should be attached to the deck. This is done by screwing a 7.5 mm x 100 mm external masonry frame and fixing screws right down to the substructure. Pilot holes should be drilled to avoid the risk of damage.
Step 7 – Fix the Spindle Inserts to the Handrails
Using a high-quality exterior screw that measures 3.5 mm x 25 mm, screw the spindle inserts to the top and bottom handrails.
Pre-drill pilot holes and put the inserts square.
Step 8 – Install the L-Bracket to Your Top Handrail
Ensuring the L-bracket is flush with the end of the top handrail, a 3.5 mm x 25 mm exterior screw should be screwed in.
This process should be repeated with each end of the top handrails.
Step 9 – Attach the Spindles to the Inserts
You can now push the spindles onto the inserts on the lower rail. If you require force to do this, a non-marking mallet may be needed.
Step 10 – Install the Top Handrail
The top handrail should then be pushed down on top of the spindles. If you use a non-marking mallet to insert the spindles, do this gently and take care not to damage the materials, and always ensure the spindles are set and lined up.
Step 11 – Fix the L-brackets to the Newel Posts
After inserting the spindles into the top handrail, the top handrail must be attached to the newel posts.
This is done by screwing 3.5 mm x 25 mm screws into the newel. Ideally, tanalised timber will have been inserted to create a strong and secure connection.
Step 11 – Fit the Post Caps
Post caps should be added to the newels by pushing them down. This protects the interior of the newels and provides a great finish.
These steps can be repeated to complete the full installation.
Buying Ecoscape Composite Balustrades
Ecoscape offers an excellent, environmentally friendly way to complete a decking project. Every year, Ecoscape recycles thousands of tons of plastic, some of which goes into the composite balustrades.
Reclaimed wood fibres from sustainable sources are also used to create high-quality products that are available.
The five balustrade colours available are Ash, Charcoal, Autumn, Walnut, and Graphite. These colours match the Clarity range of composite cladding, decking, and fencing.
The long 20-year warranties ensure the quality of the product for prolonged periods. The durable membranes ensure they look great and withstand the temperamental UK climate as well.
You will be able to choose between a full composite system, composite and wire, or composite and glass to find the perfect style for your decking or terracing project.
To find out more about Ecoscape’s quality products, installation advice, and prices, visit the dedicated composite balustrade page.
Do you need to install balustrades with composite decking?
Not all decking installations will require handrails. Always check with your local planning authority to check whether your plans will be accepted.
Typically, any decking installations that are raised over 600 mm will require a handrail for safety reasons.
A handrail should be a minimum of 1,100 mm from the decking to comply with regulations.
Stairs or steps leading from a decking area will require a handrail on both sides for stairs wider than 1 meter.
Is composite the best material for decking balustrades?
Composite offers a number of excellent benefits for use in the UK. The material is hardwearing and durable, with excellent scratch and scuff resistance.
Composite balustrades are available in a variety of colours and won’t need to be painted. The low-maintenance alternative to traditional timber decking and railing requires significantly less maintenance than wood which will need to be painted and treated to protect it from the weather, wood boring insects, and general wear and tear.
Composite materials are also easy to install. Ecoscape goes to great lengths to provide customers with extensive installation and care advice to ensure all composite products last as long as possible.
What is the downside to installing balustrades and railing?
Some railing can significantly reduce the light a deck receives. It can also obstruct views if you are sitting or lying down.
Thankfully, Ecoscape glass and wire composite balustrades offer a great solution and ensure terraces and decks don’t suffer from these issues.
What other balustrade materials are available?
As well as an extensive range of high-quality composite balustrades, Ecoscape also offers a collection of aluminium and stainless steel systems.
Whether you are looking for styles to suit a traditional property or want a more contemporary look, there are options for everyone.
How much do composite balustrades cost?
Composite balustrade prices will vary depending on the manufacturer, quality of materials, and style.
Ecoscape composite balustrade systems start from £77.60 per square meter, and there are lots of colours and styles to suit your needs.
The importance of proper balustrade installation can’t be overstated. The integrity and safety of the products you use rely on the correct installation process being used.
Ecoscape provides high-quality products, installation advice, and all the materials you need to ensure your composite balustrades are installed safely.
A poorly installed railing system is extremely dangerous and will invalidate the product warranty. You should only undertake a project of this magnitude if you have the experience to carry it out to a high standard. Employing professional installers is advised if you have any reservations.
Composite balustrades can ensure your decking area is safe and looks great. The stylish selection available from Ecoscape will give you a stunning finish that can match other Ecoscape composite products already installed in your garden.