3 Recommendations for Retrofitting Exterior Aluminum Picket or Glass Guardrail on an Existing Building.

When balconies – and the railings attached to them – fail to meet code after decades of wear and tear, consulting engineers and building owners must identify appropriate retrofit solutions that are both visually appealing and safe.

Although selecting replacement railing for a high-rise property may seem daunting, the process can effectively progress with ease when a qualified railing manufacturer is involved from the start.

Below are three recommendations for selecting a railing manufacturer and replacement solution for your next retrofit project in design:

RECOMMENDATION #1:  Select a Railing Manufacturer-Installer with In-Depth Code Knowledge 

Codes involving balcony railings have changed in at least several important respects over the past decade.  In 2010, Standards for Accessible Design as part of the Americans with Disabilities Act added substantial requirements for balcony railings influencing their overall design.  Projects that broke ground after 2015 began to require tempered and laminated glass for all railing applications. There are many other significant code requirements on a local, state and national level that impact railing system design and installation.  A qualified railing manufacturer will have the ability to provide reassurance on adequate code-compliance as applicable to your project.

RECOMMENDATION #2:  Ensure Shop Drawings Will be Stamped by a Professional Engineer (P.E.) 

Professional engineers typically review a railing design for structural load, substrate requirements, wind load on railing assemblies, thermal fluctuation and a host of other conditions.  A P.E. stamp ensures the railing materials and construction techniques – including internal welding and anchorage requirements – are adequate for the long-term suitability of the project.  Railing manufacturers like Kane Innovations will always provide you with stamped drawings, clearly stating that appropriate calculations have been performed on your specific system.

RECOMMENDATION #3:  Stick with High Quality Materials for Your Railing System

Railing materials typically do not exceed 1/3 of a renovation cost.  Removal and surface preparation is generally the most expensive component, followed closely by installation labor cost.
Quality railing materials that provide the longest solutions include:

  • AAMA 2605 Kynar Finishes:  These finishes are tested in the harshest coastal environments to ensure they retain long-lasting adhesion and durability on your project for decades.
  • Extruded Aluminum Substrates:  For any multistory application, extruded aluminum components provide the ideal combination of strength and inherent resistance to oxidation.
  • Use Laminated Glass with an Ionoplast Interlayer:  Commonly referred to by its brand name, SGP is the appropriate choice for architectural glass that will withstand exposure to the elements.

Kane Innovations always provides professionally engineered and stamped drawings for all handrail and guardrail systems.  We recommend careful coordination with necessary trades to ensure timely installation of your Sterling Dula brand railing systems.

Need design assistance with a retrofit railing project?  Contact us



We’re your source for custom engineered, fabricated and installed glass and aluminum railing systems.  

In contrast to our competitors, we offer: 

  • In-house design professionals available to work with you to provide guidance on connection details, substrate requirements and address all custom requirements, from stairways and gates to a variety of mounting conditions.
  • Timely engineering submittals, including:
    • Stamped drawings in the state of your project
    • Specifics on all connection details
    • Awareness of today’s cracked concrete code and wind requirements
  • AAMA 2605 Kynar and 2604 powder coat with a wide range of standard and custom colors
  • SGP glass from multiple vendors; ceramic frit is also available.

Representative projects include:

The Carlyle – Chicago, IL (Sundeck Railing Replacement – Chesterfield Glass Railing)

The Carlyle – Chicago, IL (Balcony Railing Replacement – Classic Picket Railing)