Deck Balustrade information guide
What Balustrade materials should I use?
Deck balustrades are constructed from many different materials, some better than others and as long as they are fit for purpose and conform to one or two standards there is seldom any issue.
Plastics are commonly used for balustrade structures, but there are better materials available - steel, stainless steel or aluminium as these have the longest service life. Timber balustrades are also rather common, soft woods requiring much more maintenance than hardwood.
There is a multitude of infill panels, steel cable, timber spindles, glass panels and more. These are all acceptable as long as they conform to the construction and structural standards.
Balustrade height regulations advice
A residential low level decking is an external structure deemed to be 600mm or lower. For these decks the balustrade should be set at a minimum height of 900mm on both stairs and landings and resist a minimum horizontal uniformly distributed line load of 0.36kN/m, a uniformly spread load applied to the infill of 0.5kN/m2 and a point load applied to part of the infill of 0.25kN.
High level residential (over 600mm) and commercial decks in public areas should have the balustrade set at a minimum height of 900mm on stairs and 1100mm on landings and resist a minimum horizontal uniformly distributed load of 0.74kN/m, a uniformly distributed load applied to the infill of 1.0kN/m2 and a point load applied to part of the infill of 0.5kN.
The balustrade should be designed so that no gaps in the structure are wider than 100mm.
The loads are detailed in kN/m (kilo Newtons per metre and can be understood as approximately 1kN/m = 102 Kilograms of force.
If you are creating a complex structure and are unsure what is and want is not acceptable you should see an experienced (indemnified) decking builder or indeed a Structural Engineer (IStructE)
Oh and if you don't know what you are doing... then don't, call a specialist.