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Handrails and Safety Railings

Adding railings, handrails or balustrades to a flat roof that you intend to use as e.g. a balcony or roof garden / roof terrace can be a great looking and practical finishing touch. Before building the idea firmly into your plans however it is worth remembering first that:

  • Planning Permission may be required if the railings / handrails could be considered to be a ‘permanent’ feature.
  • It is possible to add ‘non-permanent’ handrails to your flat roof balcony / garden area which don’t require planning permission. Unfortunately the designs available on the market for these often tend to lack some of the finesse and visual appeal visual of the permanent versions.
  • Fixing handrails to a flat roof needs to done in a way that will maintain the integrity of its surface i.e. not piercing the membrane and creating areas where water could get in.
  • Building regulations require handrails to be at least 1100mm high.
  • If your flat roof balcony, terrace or roof garden is overlooking a neighbouring property you may be required to have a privacy screen e.g. a glass screen that’s etched, sandblasted or coloured.

What should you do?

  • A good first step would be to contact your local planning office and find out how the regulations would affect your ideas for handrails / railings / balustrades around your flat roof area.
  • Check that the designs that your flat roofing company suggest for your flat roof area will comply with relevant building regulations e.g. BS6180 - the Code of Practise for Barriers in and about Buildings and BS6399 - Loading for Buildings.


Handrails, railings or balustrades have to be able to stand up to the elements, need to be solid and safe, and should look good. The most popular options are:

  1. Wrought iron
  2. Stainless steel and glass (with toughened glass)
  3. Aluminium (powder coated).

Stainless steel is very strong, looks good and is resistant to corrosion. Toughened glass has high thermal resistance and in the unlikely event that it is broken, unlike normal glass it will break into small cube-like pieces that are not as sharp and are less dangerous.

Combining glass panels with stainless steel rails can provide some protection from the wind as well as looking very attractive and modern.

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hand rail
Flat Roof Survey Online Flat Roof Estimator

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