For a balcony to remain aesthetically pleasing and structurally sound, it needs regular upkeep. Here are a couple of the most essential maintenance checks you should carry out on your balcony.
Inspect the floor
Most balcony floors are built using either concrete or timber. The former is especially popular, largely because it is extremely durable; a well-cared-for concrete balcony can last for decades.
Whilst very robust, concrete does still require some maintenance; exposure to the elements, daily wear and tear, along with frequent temperature changes can cause expansion and contraction, as well as staining and cracks. Long-term neglect can shorten its lifespan quite dramatically; if small pockets of deterioration are left unrepaired for extended periods of time, the concrete may begin to crumble to the point where the balcony is no longer safe to stand on. As such, it's vital to inspect the floor at least once a month. If you notice discolouration, tiny 'potholes', cracks, pitting, rust or salt stains, speak to a company that specialises in concrete repairs as soon as possible. The faster you address the problem, the less likely it will be to cause irreparable damage to the structural integrity of the balcony.
Timber balconies also need to examined on a regular basis. Over time, rain spells and humid weather can cause wood rot, even if the wood in question has been treated with protective staining. Fortunately, this is quite an easy problem to identify and fix. If the timber on your balcony is decaying, it will have a spongy texture and may be sagging in places. You can test it by poking a sharp knife or a pair of scissors into a small section of wood; if the item sinks in without you placing a lot of pressure on it, then it's possible that rot has set in. If only a small number of slats have been affected, you should be able to replace these, without having to remove and re-do the entire floor.
Examine the railings
A balcony's railings must be secure and in good condition; if they're not, the structure could pose a safety risk to those who use it. In most instances, exposure to the elements and normal wear and tear are the things that lead to their deterioration. Those living in coastal locations need to be particularly fastidious about checking their balcony's railings regularly, as the salt water in the air is likely to speed up the corrosion of metal. Look for loose screws and brackets, rusting or other forms of corrosion, such as pitting. If you suspect there may be a serious structural flaw, make sure to have the railing assessed by a structural engineer.