Why You Need to Fix Your Metal Railings as Soon as Possible
Metal railings are used commercially and residentially for stairs, landings, and decks as an added design and safety feature. Although architects, designers, and homeowners might choose them for their aesthetic appeal, railings are first and foremost considered a safety essential. They provide a safe hold should someone stumble but also prevent falls by allowing people to navigate stairs and open landings with support.
In some cases, metal railings might have been installed with design in mind, depending on the era in which they were installed. That means the design itself can pose a risk. However, age can also pose a risk as the fixtures and other components wear down. Although it might seem the railings are still doing their job, even mild damage can lead to disaster.
According to Criterium Engineers, stairway accidents are responsible for 12,000 deaths annually. And non-fatal injuries cost $92 billion a year. Stairway mishaps are also the second leading cause of accidental injuries in the United States. These accidents can result from a number of issues, including defective or missing railings. A lack of handrails or faulty ones also poses a risk for lawsuits.
Here’s why you need to fix your metal railings as soon as possible.
The Importance of Railings
Whether railings are used for commercial or residential purposes, indoors or out, they are affected by safety building codes. According to Criterium, these codes address:
- Handrails or stair railings provide a hold to prevent falls, especially on open staircases. These are either affixed to the wall or the stairs themselves.
- Guardrails provide a barrier to keep people from falling off stairs, balconies, decks, porches, landings, and more.
The requirements outline the height, location, strength, and grip of the rail. If you have an older property, there is a chance that your railings and stairs might not be up to code. It is a good idea to ensure that you are up to code so repairs and adjustments can be made to keep your metal railings safe.
The Dangers of Rust and Corrosion
Although metal railings aren’t prone to the structural damage of wood, metal railings that aren’t coated will be open to structural damage.
Rust is the most prevalent form of damage to metal railings. Rust forms from exposure to the elements and the oxidation of steel. Although iron and aluminum railings are layered with powder coatings and corrosion-proof finishes to prevent damage, without these coatings, the railings will wear down over time.
Air, water, and salt all contribute to the damage. If your railings are made of “non-ferrous” metal, such as aluminum and stainless steel, they might not rust but can still corrode. Corrosion creates pitting, divots, or pockets on the surface of the metal.
In some cases, aluminum and stainless steel can also have a chemical reaction when different metals come into contact with each other. That is why it is important to work with an experienced metal railing installer. They will know what components and fixture materials must be used to ensure long life and stability.
All of these forms of wear and damage make your railings highly unstable. That means they can come away from their fixings without any warning, leading to serious injury or even death. A timely repair will help keep people on your property safe.
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