In two-story residential construction, handrails and balustrades are one of the most common fixtures damaged. Dings, scratches, and splatters may occur from drywall installation, moving furniture, tool belts, construction materials, and more. The following is an analysis of the surface protection products used to protect handrails and balustrades during construction projects.
A common method for protection is to simply use a plastic sheet taped over the handrail. This provides no impact protection whatsoever and leaves the guardrail vulnerable to damage. This is the method that drywall installers use to protect handrails only; it is not a good choice for protection throughout the project.
Another guardrail protection option is to use bubble wrap and masking tape. This is somewhat effective for impact protection, but can be highly labor intensive if the project has a lot of handrails to protect, such as a large-scale condo complex.
Molded polystyrene foam is a molded handrail protection product which looks similar to a swimming pool noodle. It can be wrapped around the top handrail but leaves the balustrades unprotected. The Polystyrene foam is great for impact protection on the top rail; however, since the balustrades are left unprotected it does not work to protect the entire guardrail system. This is the most expensive handrail protection per square foot.
Another option is an adhesive, impact-resistant bubble wrap product. This effectively protects handrails while preventing the risk of adhesive transfer. This option is minimally labor intensive and professional-looking. An adhesive bubble wrap handrail protection can protect metal handrails or stained/unstained wood. Adhesive bubble works equally well on commercial and residential construction projects.
What about after construction is completed? Handrails may also be damaged by homeowners moving furniture up and down the stairs. A great way for builders to emphasize a commitment to customer service is to leave handrail protection on while homeowners are moving in. Since the homeowner will need to sign off on the state of the handrail and other fixtures, it is best to use a handrail protection product that can easily be removed and re-installed for the homeowner’s move. This helps them prevent damage to their home and increases customer satisfaction.
These are just a few ways to prevent damage to handrails during construction and renovation projects. Using surface protection is a great way for builders to save time and money by preventing the need for replacement or repair of expensive handrails and balustrades.