Balconies and Guards: “Safe-Guard” Your Railing Design


What This Presentation Covers:

Balcony and guardrail failures continue to inform how design and construction phase decisions impact long-term railing durability. In this session, Dave Young will focus on various aspects of durable design in regard to membranes and coatings as well as guardrail connection detailing. Some of the failures he will examine broach the temperature extremes, from freeze/thaw damage to buckling guard components during the recent extreme heat event in Portland, Oregon. He will also discuss various approaches that can be used to support long-term durability of balconies and guardrails.  

This presentation was delivered as part of our Building Science Live Series

 You'll Learn About:

  • How to prevent failures similar to what occurred at the 1987 Lansdowne Park railing failure.
  • Why the new balcony inspection ordinance in Berkeley, CA, was driven by balcony failure mechanisms.
  • Anticipating and designing for extreme temperatures, both hot and cold, which could lead to guard failures.
  • How to apply various balcony and guardrail best practice design decisions, material selection, and detailing approaches that support long-term durability.


  • Format: 1 hour recording + quiz. Downloadable slides are included.
  • Audience: This session will be of interest to architects, builders, building developers, and others in the industry who are interested in how railing design decisions can impact the long-term railing performance and safety.

Continuing Education Credits: 

This presentation is delivered by David C. Young