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What Is a Floating Balcony?

Large or small, open balconies and loggias provide a place to breathe, sunbathe and view the cityscape without having to deal with the limitations of a window. 

But not all balconies are the same. 

Thanks to their unique design, floating balconies are a must-have for those looking for a place to enjoy a drink, a starry evening or a sunset together.

A floating balcony is a platform that projects from the main building and is surrounded by a railing, balusters or parapet. 

Related: Can Balcony Guardrail Have Diagonal Balusters?

Although they are attached to the façade by means of joists that reinforce the beams of the building, they are completely open to the outside world and any weather conditions that may affect them, such as strong winds, rain, snow or thunderstorms. 

Also: Is It Safe to Be on a Balcony During a Thunderstorm?

Floating balconies are most often found in modern buildings, but they have existed in one form or another since the Renaissance.

In this article we’ll look at the different types of balconies and how they differ in their construction, importance and use.

What are the different types of balconies?

1. Cantilevered / floating balcony

Cantilevered or floating balconies feature structures that protrude from the building’s façade. 

These constructions are supported by iron or steel rods or girders that are concealed from view. 

The weight of the wall is cantilevered to sustain these balconies. 

Unlike the steel or concrete cantilever balconies that have long been the norm, today’s innovations in construction materials have offered far stronger and more visually appealing alternatives.

It is advisable to employ thermal bridging while working with steel and iron, since it provides a thermal break. 

Thermal break joints interrupt the transfer of heat in this manner. 

Adding such balconies to an existing house is impossible because of their complex design. 

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As a rule, they are relatively small.

The reason for this is that the deeper a balcony is, the less able it is to withstand greater loads. To support this, more technical structural solutions are required. 

2. Hourd balcony

Contrary to the romantic idea of a balcony,  in ancient times a hourd was mounted to guard against invasion during war. 

The origins of today’s balcony may be traced back to fighting, not love, according to its old forerunner. 

A medieval device to protect against siege on outer walls of castles, the hourd was a wooden scaffold that could be installed on top of a wall. 

To deter climbers, they were wrapped with animal skin or, yes, dung.

To strike a healthy balance between safety and interaction with the world around them, the hourd raised the level of exposure to the outside. 

An additional layer of defense was quickly and easily created using this proto-plug-in design, which allowed defenders to peer over the wall without exposing half their bodies and allowed them to flank invading troops from above. 

Invaders would be pelted with more manure or rocks if the castle’s defenders continued to stand on the hourd. 

Modern balconies, on the other hand, are built for a much more refined purpose—and with much less manure.

3. Faux balcony

To give the illusion of a real balcony, balcony door, French doors, or as a safety measure, faux balconies are ornamental iron pieces that are placed in front of, under, or above windows or entrances. 

In reality, these balconies are little more than decorative railings on the outside of a house. 

Related: Child Safety Balcony Railings Guide

Also: 8 Design Ideas For Balcony Roof Overhang

There isn’t even a sliver of a deck to put your toes on outside. 

Without a functional decking or other type of outdoor area, you cannot set foot outdoors at all. 

These balconies are just for decoration and are not designed to hold the weight of a human being.

Related: Can You Stand on a Faux Balcony? No, Here’s Why

The aesthetic value of faux balconies cannot be denied, despite the fact that some people claim that they are not practical in any way. 

When seen from the outside, they give the impression of a balcony, while the real metal or glass railing ensures that you won’t tumble over even if the window is wide open. 

Faux balconies make your outside walls stand out by adding some flare or sensation. 

They draw attention to the windows, creating the illusion that the windows are larger than they actually are. 

Faux balconies adorn virtually every window in Paris and give the impression that even the smallest apartments have an outdoor space.

4. Hung balcony

A hung balcony is exactly what it sounds like: a balcony that is suspended from the building. 

You do not have to worry about it, because it is entirely supported by screws and steel wires. 

Like cantilever balconies, suspended balconies are also supported balconies.

The balcony is positioned such that it is perpendicular to the building. 

Steel cables at a 45-degree angle hang a large floor or plate from a building in a hung balcony. 

It is enough to fix the steel cables to the walls, fasten them to the plate, and then suspend the balcony to complete the process. 

The approach is effective because it utilizes the bolt strength on the wall to generate pull-out forces that are of the same order of magnitude as the shear forces. 

This minimalist and rarely used design is unique in its approach.

Although less common, it is a very attractive option.

5. Stacked balcony

Most people prefer this form of balcony construction because it is easy to build and has little impact on the structure. 

Apart from that, the additional weight of these piled balconies on the building is minimal. 

More specifically, a stacked balcony is really a distinct structure that may or may not be linked to the rest of the building. 

The framework of the balcony is held up by pillars or posts, which are arranged vertically. 

They bear the weight of the balconies stacked on top of each other, and transmit it to the concrete slabs, which are poured into the ground. 

The size of these pillars is calculated taking into account the dimensions, weight, and number of balconies that will be placed on them. 

A smooth and consistent appearance can be achieved by using aluminum materials. 

For the sake of structural simplicity and convenience of execution, this method is often selected over the more visually appealing option of piers.

6. False balcony

The Juliet balcony is an example of a form of false balcony that is quite common. 

Discover: Alternative to Juliet Balcony (6 Ideas)

Fake balconies with French doors, leading to a tiny deck and whatever scenery lay below, are another common form of false balcony. 

The painting “The Balcony” by Edouard Manet, which is now on exhibit at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, is a well-known illustration of this theme. 

This design is one of many popular variations of the false balcony. 

In all classical productions of Shakespeare’s play, Juliet is depicted as wallowing and wriggling on her tiny perch. 

The term “Juliet” is often used to refer to non-protruding, compact terraces that frequently have a glass door and a railing that often have a glass door and a railing only a few inches high on each side of the opening.

Related: How to Block Balcony Gaps: 8 Ideas

7. True balcony 

With a deck and, possibly even a roof, the true balcony is a popular and well recognized structure of a building. 

It is possible to walk on real balconies, which are made out of a deck floor and a railing. 

Because of the narrow alcove, some balconies have natural roofs and walls. 

They can support and accommodate a large number of balcony furniture, plants and people. 

Read More: Balcony Furniture Layout: 17 Arrangement Ideas

In order for this balcony to be safe, the floor joists of the balcony must be firmly connected to the ledge and transom of the building. 

Corbels or metal brackets under the balcony floor give extra support.

In many cases, the support systems of balconies become an integral part of the design, adding decorative flourishes, scrolls or concrete statuettes. 

Compared to their faux and false counterparts, real balconies often have a larger footprint.

Cozy “Juliet” balconies, on the other hand, can be designed in slender shapes, but still support real weight like true balconies.

8. Mezzanine balcony

Mezzanine derives its meaning from the Italian mezzano, which translates to “middle” in English. 

As an intermediary floor that is open to the floor below, mezzanines are often not included in the total number of floors. 

At the same time, a mezzanine is described as a tiny floor between two main floors that can also be used as an indoor balcony. 

Related: Child Proof Indoor Balcony (6 Ideas)

See Also: 13 Inspiring Indoor Balcony Ideas

In most cases, it is a protective railing that encloses a broad deck or landing that protrudes from a wall. 

In this case, a mezzanine has a low ceiling and extends outward like a balcony.

Alternatively, it can refer to a theater area with few rows of seats. 

Warm and inviting loft spaces at home are often converted into other useful areas, such as home offices or nooks that are just the right size for a pull-out sofa for visitors. 

According to the International Building Code, a mezzanine may occupy up to a third of the area below it. 

Depending on where you live, local construction regulations may vary. 

There is no limit to the number of mezzanines on a single site, as long as the combined floor area of all of the mezzanines does not exceed one-third of the total area of the level below. 

With mezzanines, high-ceilinged rooms can feel more intimate and less claustrophobic while generating extra space. 

However, due to their location and positioning, mezzanine ceilings are sometimes lower than those of other floors. 

Mezzanines can serve a variety of functions. 

Modern architecture places a lot of emphasis on natural light and open floor plans, which is why mezzanines are so common in these designs.

9. Loggia balcony

Loggias are open-air galleries or corridors of buildings, commonly on the two or three stories. 

They may also be found on the upper floors of buildings. 

The loggia balcony is unique in that it has a roof, unlike other types of balconies. 

Columns or arches hold up the outer wall, which is exposed to the weather. 

In certain houses, it is built as a projecting structure that is clearly visible from the side of the building, similar to any other type of balcony; however, the only difference is that it is roofed from top to bottom.

Regardless of whether it is on the main facade or on the sides of a building, it is not meant to be an access point from below, but rather a place to relax and enjoy nature.

As long as there is enough space, a loggia balcony can usually provide some kind of sitting arrangement. 

A symbol of collective justice and a venue for civic festivities, loggias with open arches have graced the main squares of virtually all Italian communities since the early Middle Ages.

To sum it all up

Patios, decks and balconies are great for outdoor living because they provide a common area that can be used by all tenants or owners. 

These porch-like areas can be equipped with grills, hammocks, even swings and chairs to enjoy the outdoors.

As a raised platform, a floating balcony is a great addition to your home or apartment, creating an outdoor area protected by a parapet, balustrade or railing so you can be closer to nature without worrying about tripping over it.

In today’s society, balconies are becoming an increasingly popular addition to any home. 

A balcony that looks like an outdoor room can bring nature indoors and provide a sense of tranquility and seclusion as well as privacy and security, all with less maintenance than a swimming pool or outdoor garden area.

Zebedee Nambaleo
Zebedee Nambaleo

Zebedee is the founder of RealEstate Ke. He creates content by carefully examining and analyzing the real estate market, home improvement resources, and government data. His analysis is based on the principle of supplying high-quality, relevant, and in-depth information to his audience. By evaluating the current conditions and predicting future trends, he provides his audience with invaluable insights that allow them to make better decisions.