Valentine’s Day – The Juliet Balcony

It is perhaps the most romantic scene in all of English literature: Juliet stands on her balcony with Romeo in the garden below, star-crossed lovers meeting by moonlight. Colloquially known as “the balcony scene,” it contains Shakespeare’s most famous romantic line “O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?”.

There is nothing that says romance quite like a Juliet balcony, but what exactly is a “Juliet Balcony”?

A Juliet balcony is traditionally defined as “a very narrow structure with vertical metal bars, fitted to the outside of a building in front of an upstairs full-length window in two parts that can be opened like doors.” However, a modern Juliet balcony can take many forms, and these days we see a lot of people opting for a glass structure fixed back to the wall, especially popular in loft conversions.

A Juliet balcony is not usually designed to be stood on, but essentially acts as guarding to prevent you falling from the open doors, especially if you are leaning over, in search of your lover.

As such it’s important that it complies with current building regulations so here are some tips to make sure that you keep your loved ones safe this Valentine’s Day.

• Juliette balcony guarding must be no lower than 1100mm from finished floor level.
• There should be no gaps in the guarding larger than 100mm, as a child could slip through a wider gap, or get thier head stuck between the railings.
• If you are using glass, then the glass needs to remain in place even if it shatters, so specify toughened & laminated glass for maximum safety, not monolithic glass.
• Make sure the fixings are into solid structure, and are deep enough to resist the imposed loadings, of someone leaning against the guarding.
• Clipped panels with no bolts through the glass, should be supported on all 4 sides not just clipped on the vertical edges.
• Make sure you specify the correct type of fixings, and keep an eye out for corrosion, which can occur if two different metals come into contact.
• We would avoid the use of timber as this can rot with time and can also create a route for external fire spread.
• Keep a gap in the base of the balcony to prevent rainwater collecting, as collected rainwater can lead to damp ingress, and in winter this can freeze, and cause the glass to shatter.

If you are planning on installing a Juliet balcony as part of your next building project then contact us for more information and to make your Building Regs application. Then watch out next year for the ultimate in romantic gestures as you propose to your partner from the safety of a correctly installed Juliet Balcony.