Interesting Innovations: Balcony Drainage

Adding a balcony to a building is often considered to be adding ‘jewellery’, making the building look more elegant and high-profile whilst also giving the residents of the apartments an essential outdoor space to relax. However, by adding outdoor space to a residential building, the need for proper drainage becomes essential. Whether drainage is needed because of spillages or heavy rain, the liquid needs to be disposed of somehow. Without proper drainage, the base of the balcony could suffer water damage, the concrete could crack or the metal could corrode.

With Sapphire, interesting innovations in drainage are possible.

The drawbacks of fixed pipe drainage

Traditionally in countries such as the Netherlands, balconies have been cast in concrete and fixed to a building’s façade after waterproofing details have been added. This is a tried and tested, though largely time-consuming, method of balcony connection and is common across cities like Amsterdam and The Hauge.

Concrete balconies require drainage fixed to the balcony itself, letting the water run from grates at the rear edge of the balcony into pipes that run down the side of the building. This traditional solution can be unattractive and with the addition of angling the floor towards the drainage area of the balcony, it can even take extra time in the manufacturing process.

An interesting innovation in drainage – controlled edge drainage

Over the past ten years, Sapphire has developed a smart soffit approach for the ceilings on the underside of balconies that are divided into small sections, allowing liquid to drain evenly along the length of the balcony. This design has been successfully adopted in many projects across the UK and Ireland in high-rise residential buildings up to 30 storeys tall.

The smart ceilings provide a soffit drip tray, known as ‘controlled edge drainage’, and are fitted to the underside of all aluminium Sapphire balconies as standard. The rain and other liquids flow through the balcony decking and drain forward, with the ceilings angled in such a way that avoids draining onto the balcony below. Controlled edge drainage also leads to aesthetic benefits as no rear pipes are needed on the building.

Soffits - Controlled drainage

Read more about controlled drainage and how we use soffits to drain water from the balcony....

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What are the costs associated with drainage?

Thanks to Sapphire’s innovative approach, drainage doesn’t need to be expensive and can even extend the lifespan of a balcony.

Free-draining balconies (or balconies without drainage solutions) are the lowest in cost but come with the safety issue of water draining onto balconies below or not draining correctly at all. Adding a form of drainage such as a drip tray provides a relatively cost-neutral approach to drainage, whereas a rainwater pipe, for fixed rear drainage, can typically add a further 25% to the cost of a project and may make the construction significantly more complex.

At Sapphire, we recommend all balconies should use soffit drip trays, and our smart ceiling solution is added to our aluminium balconies as standard, meaning the cost of a drainage solution is factored into the design from the very start.

Drainage is an important part of balcony design and should be considered from the very start of a balcony project. Whilst free drainage is the cheapest option initially, the lack of proper maintenance could lead to severe water damage at a later point and could have an adverse effect on the continued cost of the balcony. Your project could benefit from Sapphire’s aluminium balconies with smart ceilings included for controlled edge drainage, so consider this option from an early stage.

Learn more about drainage by downloading our whitepaper here:

Balcony Drainage Whitepaper

Download our whitepaper on balcony drainage to understand more....

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