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5 considerations for specifying pool balustrade and handrails


Pool environments in leisure centres, schools and other environments are often the most extreme environments that balustrades are used within on a day-to-day basis. Amongst other challenges, the harsh chlorine environment creates high levels of corrosion on the metals used for the balustrade. This post explores the top 5 considerations when specifying pool balustrade and handrail systems in these harsh environments.

Pool Balustrade image 01


1.What corrosion classification for different areas in the building?

Corrosion classifications are graded from C1 to C5 based on the ISO 12944-2 standard. This ranges from very low (C1) corrosion classification buildings that are in heated areas and have a clean atmosphere through to very high (C5) corrosion classification in high humidity and aggressive environments.

Often leisure centre buildings have more than one classification in different areas of the building. For example, this could be the front-of-house areas possibly being a C2 or C3 environment through to the main pool area being possibly a C4 environment.

It is important to establish corrosion classifications that suit the specific building use and location as this can determine the metal finish specification and other balustrade design considerations.


Pool Balustrade image 02

2. Finish of the metals

There is a variety of metals that are used for balustrades in pool environments, but it is important to correctly specify the metal finish and type. This applies to balustrades posts, handrails, gate fixtures and other components.

For stainless steel, this should be at least a 316-grade stainless steel with a fully polished finish rather than a satin finish. A satin finish has a fine texture on the stainless steel which inhibits the chlorine water running off the stainless steel. This will potentially accelerate rusting of the stainless steel.

Likewise, in a C4 or C5 environment aluminium should be anodised rather than just powder coated with a proprietary powder. This will enable the aluminium to be granted a satisfactory design life.

Lastly, steel in C4 categories should be hot dip galvanised with a higher coating thickness depending on how easy it is to maintain the steel in the area in which it is installed. Steel in C5 categories may also require additional coatings to achieve a satisfactory life span. Please contact us for further specialist advice on this specification.

Pool Balustrade image 03

3. Designing for cleaning and maintenance of the specified system

A rigorous cleaning and maintenance programme is essential even with all other considerations taken into account. Initially this involves designing any gate hardware, balustrade to handrail connections and other components with minimal hidden areas where corrosion could occur. For example, balustrade posts ideally should have a fully welded connection to the handrail to minimise corners where corrosive water could sit and cause rusting. Other cleaning considerations may also include reviewing whether a maintenance schedule can be put in place for cleaning glass regularly.

Pool Balustrade image 04

4. Earthing of the balustrade system

In pool environments all balustrade posts should be earthed correctly. Early design engagement is very important to identify balustrade post locations so that first fix wiring can accommodate the balustrade design correctly. The balustrade posts also need to be designed with a simple earthing lug welded to the base of the balustrade post.


5. Requirement to meet building regulations

Lastly, and probably most obviously, all balustrade systems must be adhere to building regulations including, BS6180, Approved Document K and Approved Document M where applicable. This includes considering the loading that is applied to the balustrade in the different usage areas and whether the balustrade is protecting a fall or just providing a separation barrier between different areas. For example, a separation barrier between a learner pool and the main pool won’t have the same loading requirements as a balustrade protecting a first floor viewing gallery.

Please refer to other BA Systems resources on relevant building regulations:

Other resources can be found on the following websites:

  • The full Approved Document K file can be found on the website here.
  • The full Approved Document M file can be found on the website here.

This guide is a summary of some key points for consideration when specifying balustrades and handrails. For more detailed advice on these regulations or any other current standards, please contact as on 01603 722330 or

If you require further technical specifications, drawings, CAD files or images please contact us on to receive access to our technical library.

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