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What Are the Best Tips for Designing a Wooden Balcony?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 20 September 2016
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Designing a wooden balcony starts with considering safety, aesthetics, and cost. A wooden balcony that looks fantastic on one building may look terrible on another, and a seemingly simple balcony design may actually cost a significant amount of money. Consider the materials used to build the structure as well has how much material will be necessary; the design of the structure will have an impact on its cost and strength, so some research into various designs will be necessary. A cantilevered balcony, for example, is an aesthetically pleasing and cost-conscious choice, but it may not be the strongest or safest.

Sometimes a wooden balcony can be built with timber commonly used for framing, such as pine. This is an inexpensive choice that will keep the cost of the project down, but if the pine is exposed to moisture, bugs, and direct sunlight, cracking and warping may occur, as can splitting or rotting. A cantilevered balcony made from pine may become unsafe as the wood bends, rots, or splits, and the wooden balcony may begin to bounce or sway. Stronger materials that are resistant to water damage, such as pressure-treated lumber or certain types of naturally water-resistant woods such as cedar, are much better choices, but they will drive up the cost of the structure.

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The builder should think carefully about how the wooden balcony will be used. Sometimes the structure will be purely decorative, which means it will not be weight-bearing. This will cut down on costs because fewer materials will be necessary to stabilize the balcony, and it can be simply affixed to the face of a structure. If the balcony is to be weight-bearing, the builder will need to consider how the structure will be stabilized. Some balconies feature legs and footings that extend to the ground; columns, for example, can hold up the balcony. Others may be supported by plinths, or blocks, that bear much of the weight of the structure.

Designing an enclosed wooden balcony will be a bit more difficult, as the framing materials and enclosure materials can vary significantly according to how the balcony is likely to be used. A balcony can, for example, simply be screened in with wire screens and wood or aluminum framing materials, or it can feature windows mounted in solid frames. Such materials will, again, affect both the usefulness of the structure and the cost of the project.

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