With structural steel components you can pretty much guarantee the same quality from any supplier in the UK. Delivery timeframe, customer service and coatings may vary, but the material quality of the steel itself will be the same. This is because all structural steel components – i.e. those used as part of the fabric of a building – have to comply with the standards set out in the Construction Products Regulation (CPR) and bear the CE approval mark. The same is true across the European Union.
With architectural steel components, such as balustrades, quality and engineering standards are far more variable, because this type of work is exempt from the CPR. Many companies that specialise solely in architectural fabrications do not use CE mark standards at all. So how do you know what you’re getting when you commission stainless steel balustrade fabrication on behalf of a customer?
Firstly, we recommend you do your research. Speak to a few companies and select one based on your budget, required delivery timescale, location and in-house facilities. It helps to speak with the engineers involved, as this will allow you to identify any potential pinch points that could result in delays, such as if the components need to be shipped to a subcontractor for hot dip galvanisation.
However, these assurances can only go so far. To 100% guarantee the highest quality stainless steel balustrades you have to choose a fabrication company that goes beyond compliance and CE marks all their architectural components.
What Does CE Marking Mean?
The presence of a CE mark on a steel balustrade means that the component meets all the technical specifications required of a structural steel fabrication. In the context of an architectural fabrication, this not only means that the component is safe and fit for purpose, but that it meets quality standards above and beyond those required merely for safety.
When you see a CE mark on a steel balustrade, you know that it is fabricated to pass the test of time. These fabrications can be relied upon to provide an active working life that exceeds what you could reasonably expect from a standard balustrade without a CE mark.
The CE mark confirms that the balustrade meets all the following EU and UK technical standards for steel:
- BS EN 10025-1 for steel plate work
- BS EN 1090-1 for structural steel components
- BS EN 15048-1 for structural bolts
- BS EN 10210-1 & BS EN 10219-1 for welded hollow sections (hot or cold finish)
Quality & Competitiveness
A question on the lips of many project managers is how this extra quality affects price? End clients will only be prepared to spend so much on a stainless steel balustrade at the end of the day, regardless of the quality. In the interests of providing a competitive quote, many construction contractors and architects try and save costs on architectural components, while maintaining the highest standards for structural fabrications.
This no doubt works out favourably for fabrication companies who offer low-priced architectural components without the CE mark. At GLW, however, we always go the extra mile and apply CPR standards to all components, both architectural and structural. Does this affect our prices?
You may pay a bit more for our fabrications than you would going to a cut-price fabrication company, but the difference isn’t as much as you may think. As we provide both structural and architectural fabrications, we already have the knowledge and infrastructure in place to apply CPR standards to any steelwork. It doesn’t really cost us much more to use the same materials and expertise on a balustrade as we would on a steel pillar. This is reflected in the competitive prices we offer our customers.
The difference in quality between a CE marked and non CE marked balustrade more than makes up for any price differential. A balustrade that has been fabricated according to the stringent requirements of the CPR will provide long-term value for money for your clients – and for their target customers.
Get The Best Results On All Your Stainless Steel Balustrade Fabrications
If you’re serious about keeping project costs down while maintaining fast delivery times and good quality, download our e-book: How To Ensure Quality, Compliance & Lead Time When Hiring Steel Fabrication Companies. This concise guide includes chapters on engineering standards, steel treatments, hot zinc spraying and managing your relationship with third parties – among other topics. Claim your complimentary copy today by clicking here.