------------------------------------ November 5, 2015
Best of Both Worlds
a professional, when you think of railing, what is the first image that comes to
mind? If you are like most you think of metal, typically aluminum or steel.
Especially is this so among those involved in the design of commercial or high
use facilities and buildings. Railing is never really given much thought because
it's considered a low tech item. How could you possibly improve on railing?
no single product can satisfy every need, there is a technology unknown to many
designers and engineers that should be considered when seeking the best possible
product for a facility. After all, as professionals we want the best product and
best value for our clients.
understand the options let's first touch on the negatives considered inevitable
with all metal railing systems, painted or galvanized. While the subject of size
and gauge should always be considered, so as to satisfy use and load
requirements, let's assume that is always done. The issues associated with
metals have to do with primarily with maintenance. The costs associated with
proper maintenance can be exorbitant. Unfortunately, in the "real world",
most railing is ignored once installed. Even rail that is properly maintained
will still inevitably need refinishing and will deteriorate, corrode and even
rust. With aluminum its corrosion, oxidation and dissimilar metal reactions that
cause major issues. Rust destroys and leads to loss of structural strength. The
issues of color retention and fading are a nuisance but important to the rail
owner. Install railing in a humid or salt atmosphere, as we have in much of the
US, and the issues of deteriorating rail become ever more a concern. Read the
fine print in the warranty of any reputable railing manufacturer and you will
typically find "salt" as an exclusion.
above "metal" issues are not new. Decades ago "Plastics"
were being introduced to the building industry. One form of plastics, PVC, was
touted as the end all. The fact that PVC was readily available, was relatively
inexpensive, already being used widely in the plumbing industry and had a "story"
made it an obvious candidate for several building products including railing.
Sticking to the subject of railing, PVC railing proved over time to have issues
of its own. Structurally it would not meet the codes required in high-rise or
commercial construction or anywhere the rail would be subject to extreme use.
PVC railing was limited to pastel colors, was subject to fading, and became
brittle in cooler climates. Extruded profiles were almost impossible to bend so
radius railing was not practical. The use of PVC railing became almost
exclusively confined to residential applications where strength of product was
not as critical.
has changed? Not much! Let me clarify that statement. Technology has definitely
evolved. There are good PVC railing systems available if used in a manner
consistent with the design intend. Keep in mind, "Plastics" are simply
a recipe of various chemicals. Recipes" have been created so that the
plastic can meet the demands of whatever the end use will be. Like all products,
with PVC Railing you can buy a good, better or best system. Manufacturers
seeking a greater share of the market found ways to "cheapen" the
product. Certain ingredients, even when needed, were eliminated. Methods to
reduce the amount of material used in their products were adopted. The specifier
or buyer needs to be aware of what they are purchasing.
what is "New" in the world of railing? Actually, "new is not
accurate as the technology and even actual products have been manufactured using
this "new" technology since the early 1990's. Its "new" in
the sense that the technology is unknown by the majority. The awareness may be
lacking, however the system is tried and proven. Succinctly put; if you could
incorporation the advantages inherent with different types of metal systems and
marry them to the advantages of a properly formulated vinyl system then you
would have the best of both worlds. Let me elaborate.
Railing is a thick wall Plastic or Vinyl system containing a schedule 40 or
greater internal "skeleton" of either galvanized steel, stainless
steel or aluminum. In cooperation with plastic formulation, resin and color
experts, a plastic was formulated to meet the requirements for a rail system
necessary to surpass the structural codes commercially mandated. This product
encapsulates the correct size and gauge of metal within a specifically
formulated and proprietary acrylic or polyvinyl chloride plastic. Because the
rail system chosen makes a major architectural statement a process known as
co-extrusion was introduce to take advantage of the superior attributes of
multiple plastic formulations. A planned deviation from the industry standard of
thin wall PVC in square or rectangular traditional shapes and is used to better
meet the needs of the commercial designer.
previously stated, no one product or material can meet all requirements and a
high quality aluminum rail system with a quality finish, i.e. a properly applied
multiple layer powder coating, can offer many years of superior performance.
However, the long list of advantages to Thermoplastic makes it a product that
needs to be considered when choosing the right product to use in any design.
list of facilities that have specified Thermoplastics: i.e. Entertainment theme
parks, water parks, municipal and transportation facilities, sports arenas and
stadiums, large and small commercial buildings, even private homes have proven
Thermoplastic's place in the railing industry.
welcome the opportunity to support the above. It is not unusual to hear the
comment "I can't believe this is plastic". Allow us to show you
in pictures and with technical data the value in the technology that has married
the advantages of metal and plastic in rail design, the best of both worlds.
Allow us to assist also in determining if it is Thermoplastic or Aluminum that
best suits your needs. We will gladly share the wealth of information we have
available that simply could not be included in a short article such as this. Ask
us for pictures showing the use Thermoplastic enjoys. After all, pictures they
say, are worth a 1000 words.
see our Thermoplastic Products click
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