Keeping Balconies Safe and Attractive Just Hanging Out

 Ever since “Romeo and Juliet” made them famous, balconies have been popular additions to our homes and living  spaces. For co-op and condo communities, balconies can add an extra perk, a few  more feet of living space that allow us to enjoy the outdoors and some time in  the sun.  

 As with any structure, balconies need a steady diet of care and maintenance to  look their best and last their longest. What goes into caring for balconies and  what happens when they need fixing? With proper planning and the right tools,  maintenance and repair can add years of enjoyment and value to your co-op or  condominium community.  

 How They Work

 For the most part these days, balconies are built out of steel and concrete with  a few wood and steel models mixed in here and there. According to Stan  Wellinsky, vice president of Valcourt Building Services LLC in Elizabeth, New  Jersey, there are two kinds of concrete balconies: continuous slab, which is  simply an extension of a building’s concrete floor slab, and those which are constructed from steel frames that  are mounted to the structure externally. 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 balcony  or surface mounted.  

 Keep Them Looking Good

 Concrete balconies “should last forever with routine maintenance,” Wellinsky says. Without proper maintenance, however, “I’ve seen them develop problems in 10 years or less.”  

 But what qualifies as “proper maintenance?” The first step to finding signs of deterioration is to look for them, says R.  Neal Eisenberg, a preservation and restoration consultant with Gotham  Waterproofing & Restoration in Bayonne, New Jersey. On balconies, owners should look for  cracks, rust stains, salt stains or any discoloration in the roof or floor.  These are signs that the metal helping to support the balcony may be rusting,  or water may be deteriorating the slabs.  

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11 Comments

  • We had cathodics done on our balcony. But there standing water that needs to attended to, because of not leveling and pitch propery. What can be done so we don't ruin the cathodics. The contracter is passing the buck who iis responsible. We are asking to lightly sand it down and pitch it right
  • Balcony Profile - Normally the contractor is required by the engineer to flood the balcony prior to the CP installation in order to avoid the situation you are describing (assuming an engineer was used on the project). ie: The balcony profile must slope away from the structure. What type of CP was used during restoration? Pucks? Conductive coating? Ribbon, Mesh? Saw Slot? How old is the CP system? And/or when was the restoration accomplished? How old is your building? Is the building on the beach? In Florida, Texas?
  • what is the standard slope for an exterior balcony for drainage purposes? thanks
  • I have a water leak on my balcony. After several epoxy injections, water leaks are still present underneath. The first time we reported this problem to the developer, his team opened a portion of our concrete until they reached the steel bars. Then left it exposed for several months until a contractor was hired to inject epoxy on the balcony. The epoxy injection was done over the tiles only and was able to seal a small area of the crack underneath. Now the developer and his contractor want to inject epoxy underneath the floor as another solution to the problem. Is that the right way to do? I am concerned because I am afraid that the water will be locked inside the concrete. I am afraid that the developer is finding an easy way out to deal with this problem which is still under his responsibility since the complex has not been yet turned over to the association. Am I right to be worried? Thanks.
  • Hi, I have a condo in FL and was told our cathodic system was showing a 6 = good on the report. What does this mean? A sample of the concrete was taken and I was told it was good. What else should I do? Most Stressed
  • Just because a hairline crack is slightly visible under the paint, there is no signs of corrosion whatsoever because of the layers of paint but I'm being told by condo association the concrete railings need to be replaced. Can this possibly be true. I swear the rail looks new it's hard to see the cracks and there must be some way to repair them as no water as even penetrated them. Is this a case of contractors milking the job?
  • I am in a condo in Florida. We have concrete, with ceramic tile over it on balcony. Makes for easy cleaning and a beautiful look. We have pidgeons, and during nesting season they make a real mess on the porch. We can manage to clean, scrape and mop up the messes because of our tile surface. Now we are being told there is going to be balcony work done, and we will not be able to put tile over the concrete. If we end up with the same bumpy painted finish the halls have, we'll never be able to clean our balcony. It will be an eyesore and dirty constantly. Isn't there some solution where we can be on the ocean and still have our tile? Isn't the jack hammering and taking up tile going to stress the balcony's structure? Our tile is in very good condition the grout is sound and there are no cracks. We are concerned. Please tell us what to do. The manager of this place is like a dictator and always gets the cheapest companies. He said the concrete company said we could not tile again. Thank you. Please answer as soon as possible. Ann
  • We have same dictator and pidgeon problem. Our tile is perfect and makes cleaning successful. Maybe we are in same FL condo! Good luck. They are tearing up our balconies now. They are double the money they said it would cost.
  • How long should balcony repair be we are being told 4 months. Windows boarded up and no patio use for 4 months.
  • Will potted plants on balconies cause damage due to trapped moisture?
  • Architects have told us our balconies (20 total, about 100 sq ft each) require resurfacing every 15 years, costing $80K; and "recoating" every 5 years at a cost of $20K. Does this sound right? Such expenditures are terrible, and of the architect is banking on his percentage of the project costs when the work is performed. What have others experienced?