The Air Up There Preserving & Protecting Balconies

 It’s no secret—living space is at a premium in New York City. Balconies can go a long way  toward providing a little extra elbow room by giving co-op and condo residents  the square footage necessary to entertain, relax or simply enjoy a view of the  sunset.  

 As with any structure, balconies need a steady diet of care and maintenance to  look their best and last their longest. By planning for that care, boards and  managers can save money, ensure safety and preserve the aesthetic value of  their balcony spaces. And with the right outlook, maintenance and repair can be  relatively painless.  

 How They’re Built

 These days, the vast majority of New York balconies are made from steel and  concrete, with a smaller percentage of wooden structures represented in the  mix. There are two kinds of concrete balconies: continuous slab, which is  simply an extension of a building’s concrete floor slab and those that are constructed from steel frames that are  mounted to the structure. Steel planks extend from the building’s frame and are then filled with concrete. On both types of balconies, railings  are added after initial construction and are either embedded into the concrete  of the balcony or surface mounted.  

 Wooden balconies are constructed in much the same way with beams run into the  unit so that they become part of the flooring system. Again, railings are added  at the end of the process.  

 What Can Go Wrong

 There is one very important reason that any and all balcony professionals tell  their clients that proper maintenance and care is vital—and that’s the fact that balconies, when they go bad, can be very expensive to fix and  also pose a serious hazard. With wooden balconies, for example, a couple of  different scenarios can play out without the proper maintenance or initial  installation. If too much pressure is exerted on the wooden cantilever—half of which is under the unit’s floor and the other half of which serves as the balcony’s floor —that pressure can cause sagging which will affect the stability of the floor  inside.  


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  • What have you found works to keep pigeons off the balconies - they require washing the balconies which the article indicates may be harmful and more significant, they prevent enjoyment of the balcony.
  • Do you have a comment regarding the life span of a concrete cantilevered balcony? Overtime concrete balconies will lose the original proper pitch due to long term creep. The only way to correct the pitch is to add slope usually by the means of additional concrete. This is an issue as you would now be overloading the structure and compounding the problem. I imagine there has to be a life cycle date where the owners understand at some point demolition and full reconstruction is necessary.