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Choosing a Railing System: Top 4 Considerations

Form and function are the foundation of any architectural project. But it’s the details that will bring your client’s dreams to reality. A beautifully designed railing system is like a piece of fine jewelry that will adorn the masterfully sculpted building structure.

Railings

However necessary to the safety and structure of a building project — have the potential to make an aesthetic statement to all who enter any built environment. Yes, there are many building codes that must be followed when planning, designing and manufacturing a railing system, but here are a few considerations in selecting an ideal railing system for your project.


BUILDING / OCCUPANCY TYPE

The type of occupancy should be the foremost consideration in the selection of a building’s railing system. Although there is really no set rule or a code restriction, in our years of experience, we have learned that there are certain types that work best for specific applications.

Glass Railing Systems

This is a widely accepted and popular selection in the design of open concept space. Glass railing systems are available in post-supported or structural glass. On exterior applications, glass is preferred to create an unobstructed view. Although glass is perceived as a fragile material, it becomes stronger when it is fully tempered and laminated. At VIVA Railings we have experienced that people tend to respect the “perceived” fragile nature of glass and do not abuse or tamper with glass as much as they might a metal system.

MINIMALISTIC GLASS RAILING TOYOTA HQ (36 of 40)


Metal Panel Railing Systems

Metal panel railings should be considered when the goal is to incorporate the aesthetics of patterns available with woven wire mesh, perforated metal or a wide array of laser-cut patterns. Metal panel railings are also a great option when the client wants to avoid the maintenance of glass or the potential for people to climb the railing, as may be an issue with a cable or multiline system.


Cable or Multiline Railing Systems

An ideal choice for landscape or deck applications as these systems require minimal maintenance. When using cable systems for school applications, consider a rigid toe rail to prevent kids from stepping on the bottom runs. VIVA Railing offers CUBE, CIRCA, TEE, and BEACON for cable and multiline.


BUDGET

We are often asked to provide budgets and to rate the economy of scale (cost advantages for more efficient production), as should be a top consideration for every item on a project. Establishing a budget helps you to estimate the job upfront and prevent value engineering for key high visibility areas that are prone to get axed out. The VIVA Railings team is equipped to provide pre-design and pre-construction consultancy to assist during this phase of your project.

The following chart provides a general indication of the price point for railing systems. Note that there are many other factors that would impact pricing, such as quantity, layout, mounting detail, etc.

VIVA Railings has a patented SHOE structural glass system that results in a simple, fast, and clean installation. In addition to easy maintenance, our structural glass system requires approximately 50 percent less installation time than most similar systems on the market. Creative-minded architects are ecstatic with the endless options of our glass systems available on tempered laminated glass.

Cable, multiline, and VIVA Railings’ new CableNet systems are great choices when trying to achieve an unobstructed view without the hassle of glass maintenance. These systems work well for industrial-type interiors, decks, ramps, bridges, and landscape applications.

$:       Cable Railings, Multiline Railings & Aluminum Glass Railings
$$:    Glass Railings, Wire Mesh Railings, Perforated Metal Railings, Laser cut Panel Railings
$$$:  Structural Glass Railings, Fascia Mount, Heavy Glass (meet wind loads, etc.)

 

Other factors that impact cost include but are not limited to:

  • Changing from stainless steel to LED rails. VIVA Railings has iRail LED systems available in Linear and Pods.
  • Changing rails to wood.
  • Higher wind loads resulting in the heavier glass.
  • Inadequate substructure resulting in special mounting details.

THE LOOK

Although listed third, the appearance of the railing system can create a powerful first impression. So it is understandable that the first question most of our customers ask is, “Which is the coolest looking railing system that I can get for this project?”

 

Choosing the right look begins with the overall look and feel of the project. Most projects today have a modern design, and structural glass railings are the most popular (by far) railing system for a modern look. Why? Glass is an attractive material due to its ability to allow light through and create a feeling of open spaces.


VIVA Railings has a patented SHOE structural glass system that results in a simple, fast, and clean installation. In addition to easy maintenance, our structural glass system requires approximately 50 percent less installation time than most similar systems on the market. Creative-minded architects are ecstatic with the endless options of our glass systems available on tempered laminated glass.


Cable, multiline, and VIVA Railings’ new CableNet systems are great choices when trying to achieve an unobstructed view without the hassle of glass maintenance. These systems work well for industrial-type interiors, decks, ramps, bridges, and landscape applications.


The above options lean toward a minimalistic design, but if you want to create a statement —  a true work of art — VIVA Railings offers laser-cut FOLD and STRUC metal panel systems. Customers who select one of these systems are able to choose from a wide range of patterns or provide a custom design, such as a flowing design that repeats every few panels, creating an image or a logo.

fold panel railing system


Finally, the finish of the railing system brings the entire look together. We recommend a stainless-steel satin finish for longevity and maintenance, especially for wearing components like the handrail. Our customers have the option to select powder coating from a standard range of available colors or a custom color of their choice.

Due to the demand for a blackened finish on stainless steel, VIVA Railings offers a special finish called ECM (an electron process that imparts color to stainless steel).

 


PROJECT SCHEDULE

Architectural railing systems are generally a project-specific fabrication and not an “off the shelf” item. For this reason, consideration of lead times should be an important factor in the railing selection. Depending on the system, some are more dependent on field measurement than others.

 

Railing systems with faster lead times:

  • Structural Glass e.g., SHOE and VIEW
  • Cable Railing Systems
  • Multiline Railing Systems
  • Continuous CableNet Railing Systems
  • Top Mount (vs. Fascia Mounts)

 

Best practices conducive to hold-to dimensions (independent of structure available for field measurements):

  • Long linear runs
  • Straight Stair (vs switchback or dog-legged, curved etc.)
  • Mount on steel substrates
  • Early steel/structure shop drawings and hold-to agreements
  • Scope buy out within 30 days of owner award

 

In addition to code requirements, there are various other factors that should be considered when selecting the right railings for your project. The VIVA Railings sales and pre-construction team is available to answer your questions. Email us at info@vivarailings.com  or call 972-353-8482 Ext 10.

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