Aluminum Railing Installation Practices: Surface Mount vs. Face Mount

There are typically two methods for installing aluminum railing systems.  To determine which method best suits your needs Atlantic Aluminum has outlined the advantages and disadvantages to each mounting strategy. 

SURFACE MOUNT RAILING INSTALLATION

Surface mounted railing is when a railing system is installed into the surface of the foundation; surface mounted railing is also referred to as ground mounted.

The benefits of installing railing with a surface mount application include less labor to install, less invasive to the finished concrete foundation, requires no addition equipment to install, requires no coordination with other trades, and can be installed from the surface of the deck.

The disadvantages of Surface Mounted Railing Systems is that it decreases the deck or balcony space and will have visible anchors and mounting brackets.

FACE MOUNT RAILING INSTALLATION

Face mounted railing is when a railing system is installed to a balcony edge rather than the walking surface.

The biggest advantages of face mounting a railing system is that it will give increase the area of a balcony or deck by approximately six inches.  It also increases the aesthics because the anchors and mounting brackets are less visible.

The disadvantages of Face Mounted Railing Systems are as follows:

1-Balcony edges range in thickness from 5-8”.  Anchor engineering will not allow center of anchor to edge of concrete (distance to be less than three inches). This will result in only one anchor in the center of each slab edge per post.  Consequentially a railing system installed in this manner will not meet IBC engineering load values.

2-Another disadvantage is that a lift is typically required to install the railing from the exterior of the building  thereby incurring additional costs for labor and  equipment.

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