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Old 04-29-2013, 12:56 PM   #1
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Belly (Architectural) Baluster Spacing on Deck


I am mounting belly balusters on 2x3 powder coated angle iron for my deck railing. the longest span between posts is 84", some are as short as 30". I have two straight spans of a little over 12' with a post in the middle and 4 different 45 degree cuts. There are 27 posts in all, in a slightly complex deck shape. If I treat each distance between posts differently, I think these balusters may make it look not uniform and messy. If I just go with 3.75" in between posts(The balusters are 1" wide), the spacing will not work out evenly near the posts. What do the experienced guys suggest to keep it looking professional while using belly balusters?

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Old 04-29-2013, 07:05 PM   #2
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Belly (Architectural) Baluster Spacing on Deck


I figured out the spacing between each post and the first balluster needs to be the same on each side, then run the desired width. There are plent of calculators all over the net that can figure each length.

The new problem I'm faced with is the actual gap between each baluster. I was using 3.75" and realized with the bow at this gap, a 4" ball can still pass thru. This would abviously mean it's not code. Anyone know what the max width between belly balusters is to keep all gaps in the baluster bow under 4"?

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Old 04-30-2013, 06:24 AM   #3
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Belly (Architectural) Baluster Spacing on Deck


If the balluster is set properly and the run is straight then the spacing should remain the same, the constant 3 3/4". I must be missing something here, are the rails at a curve? if the rails are curved then the spacing at the "bulging" part of the balluster would open up to greater then 3 3/4". Perhaps you post a photo of the balluster with a rule.
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Old 04-30-2013, 10:14 AM   #4
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Belly (Architectural) Baluster Spacing on Deck


What I found is the 3.75" won't work next to a straight post. I reduced it down to 3.5 and it all worked out. Because this particular length between posts was 84.5, it was equal throughout. Most of the other layouts have a 2-3" post to first baluster gap, so this won't be a problem; but definitely something to remember if any of the layouts you do are over 3.5" on the first baluster from post. If the inspector is worth his salt, he'd catch it; and with steel rails, you have one shot and there's no forgiveness.

I'll try and post a pic later on today.

I have the rest of them all laid out at 3.75" with first post to baluster gaps 3.5" or less. Should I just run with that? Do you think the 1/4 inch on this one section would be noticeable, or should I re do my whole layout to 3.5? I'm pretty sure I'd have to do the latter.

Last edited by peakcelln; 04-30-2013 at 10:17 AM.
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Old 05-03-2013, 11:24 AM   #5
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Belly (Architectural) Baluster Spacing on Deck


Here's the pic. Like I said, if the gap between the first post and the baluster is over 3.5 wit a belly baluster, a 4" ball will fit through. So if your gapping 3.75 and the math works out perfectly(3.75 on all including first coming off post) I found you must make it 3.5 for that section. I know the chances are rare the rail length will work out that way, but with L metal like I have, you only have one shot.

PS, What do you think of my rails, designed and built them myself...with A LOT of input...
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Old 05-03-2013, 11:35 AM   #6
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Belly (Architectural) Baluster Spacing on Deck


I like them! I especially like the "belly" because I am tall, and have a tendency to hit my knees against balusters when I rest my elbows on the railing.

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