If you plan on using your balcony for more than decoration, make sure your balcony flooring is made to stand up to the elements. The choice of flooring material for your balcony can mean the difference between constant maintenance and structural problems, or a well-loved sunny retreat.
What Is a Balcony?
A balcony is a platform, which projects from an exterior wall of a building. It is frequently centered over a window or set of French doors to allow easy access from bedrooms and sitting rooms. Balconies may be small, with only enough room for plants, or they may be large enough to support several chairs and a small table.
Many balconies are not covered or shaded in any way from the elements. This means that the balcony floor frequently takes the brunt of sun, rain, snow and ice. If the balcony is meant to be used on a regular basis, and to support the weight of one or more people, it's imperative that the flooring is in good condition.
Types of Balcony Flooring
Balconies can be built from wood, cement or wrought iron. In some cases, the balcony flooring will be made up of the same materials that are used to construct it. In many cases, you will also have the choice of laying an additional flooring material either in place of, or in addition to the structural floor.
Cement balconies will typically have a cement floor as well. Cement is structurally sound, can support heavy weights and when sealed and maintained properly can look great for years. Cement floors can be painted to match the exterior of the house, or left bare.
Wooden balconies will typically have a wooden floor similar to deck floor boards. Large wood planks which can be painted or stained can be fitted to form the balcony floor. Keep in mind that wooden balconies will need to be painted on the underside as well as the top, and that the type of sealer used is important to keep the wood in good condition.
Composite Decking Materials
Deck flooring can easily be used as balcony flooring as well. This includes composite decking materials made up of wood fibers and plastic resins. Composite boards have the advantage of lower maintenance than wood, because they don't require the staining and upkeep. They can be expensive, however, and are prone to mold and mildew, so some additional maintenance is required.
Vinyl deck tiles are another option that can be used on balcony floors. Vinyl tiles snap together quickly, making an easy installation either over an existing balcony floor, or in place of a new one. Vinyl tiles are available in multiple wood grains and patterns, and have the advantage of being able to be installed in varying patterns. If your balcony gets a lot of use, you want to add some interest to the floor and desire a low maintenance material, vinyl deck tiles can be a great balcony flooring material.
Coordinating Your Balcony and Your Home
Whatever material you choose for your balcony floor, remember that your balcony should work in harmony with the rest of your home's exterior. Take cues from the rest of the home, such as decks, patios and front entry ways to help find the material for your flooring that not only meets your maintenance needs, but your aesthetic needs as well. When carefully chosen, your new balcony flooring should make your balcony both a place to relax and a place which complements the rest of your home.