The most common issues with decks and balconies in strata header image

The most common issues with decks and balconies in strata

When it comes to community living, decks and balconies often are ideal for an escape. They provide residents with the enjoyment and access to fresh air outdoors. Like all other building components though they require routine maintenance, inspection and repair by qualified contractors and specialists to ensure durable performance. Covered in detail below are four ways to deal with the most common issues relating to decks and balconies in strata:

  1. Water ingress

  2. Cracked tiles

  3. Deterioration of the balustrade or fittings

  4. Concrete cancer

PICA Group’s tips on how to deal with common issues related to decks and balconies in strata:

Water ingress

The most common issue with strata and body corporate balconies is water ingress. A balcony with minimal “fall” is susceptible to water pooling and moisture between the membrane and tiles, known as “ponding”.

If the waterproofing membrane applied cannot withstand ponding water, over time the membrane will break down, causing water leaks. Waterlogging can also cause joint failure, leading to leaks.

Leaks to the lot below are, usually, indicators of a failure of the waterproof membrane. If you have water ingress from the lot above or common property report this to the strata committee or your strata manager.

A common sign of water ingress in balconies is the appearance of efflorescence, which is deposit of crusty white mineral salts that appear on a masonry surface. The following are some of the major and most common causes of balcony leaks:

  • Lack of planning prior to construction
  • No building maintenance
  • Rainwater causing pooling and breakdown of membranes
  • Lack of drainage
  • Natural building movement leading to cracks which water can then leak through

Cracked tiles

Tiles are laid over the waterproof membrane to which they bond, providing protection for the membrane. This stops water leaking into the lot below and protects the concrete slab.

Cracked or lifted tiles need to be repaired as soon as possible as movement of the tiles can tear the waterproof membrane. Depending on the strata scheme, titles may be the responsibility of the owners corporation or the lot owner to repair. Check with your strata manager or committee if you are unsure.

Deterioration of the balustrade or fittings

Materials such as concrete, steel, wood or glass are open to the elements and erosion or other deterioration can occur. Regular maintenance is critical to ensure the safety of balcony balustrades.

Concrete and steel balustrades should be painted regularly as painting seals the structure and prevents rust. Glass balustrades need to be cleaned and inspected regularly. The most common balustrade issue is a breakdown of the connection to the slab. If bolts are used they can rust weakening the structure.

Concrete cancer

Concrete cancer or concrete spalling can destroy a building. However, for most buildings concrete cancer is a treatable problem. Preventative maintenance is again crucial to prevent larger issues.

Balconies should be checked and painted regularly in concrete buildings as part of their regular maintenance. The paint seals the concrete against moisture penetration. A professional painter will inspect the building prior to painting and will identify spalling issues before painting.

If you’d like to find out more on building compliance for your strata property, download our FREE building compliance guide.