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.