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Useful Tips

Building Code & Standards

Do I need a building permit?
You may need to obtain a permit before undertaking construction work. We advise you to check with your borough or contact one of our representatives to avoid any fine and the closure of the site.

In some cases, your borough may also request shop drawings. We can provide you with what you need and help you prepare a proper application to avoid administrative delays.

If you wish to make changes to a balcony structure, you should know that an architect’s plan approved by a licensed engineer may be requested by your borough.
What materials are allowed in my borough?
Before renovating or replacing architectural components, we advise you to contact your borough. In certain so-called historical neighborhoods, for example, materials and construction methods must be approved to preserve the heritage style and cultural identity of the property.
What is the regulatory width of a staircase?
Steps of facade staircases must be at least 42’’ wide.

For spiral staircases, steps must be at least 760 mm wide (approx. 30’’). For building with more than two apartments, steps must be greater than 860 mm (approx. 34’’) – although we recommend 36’’.

It should be noted that straight stairs from the ground floor to the first balcony must have steps of at least 36’’ even if they are attached to a 30’’-wide spiral staircase.
What is the regulatory height of a step?
The National Building Code states that the height of a riser must be between 125 mm and 200 mm, or approximately 5’’ to 8’’. Steps from the same flight must also have the same height, subject to a maximum tolerance of 6mm or approximately ¼’’.
What is the regulatory depth of a step?
The National Building Code specifies that the depth of rectangular steps must be between 235 mm and 355 mm, or approximately 9 ¼’’ to 14’’. Steps from the same flight must also have the same depth, subject to a maximum tolerance of 6mm or approximately ¼’’.

Note that steps must have a nosing between 25 mm and 40 mm (approximately 1’’ – 1 ½’’).
What is the regulatory height of railings?
The City of Montreal requires that railings have a minimum height of 920 mm (approx. 36’’) in staircases and in areas where the risk of falling is less than 6’.

Railings over a garage entrance and for 2nd-floor balconies and up must be at least 1,070 mm high (approx. 42’’).
What is the regulatory width between balusters?
The City of Montreal requires that balusters be installed close enough that the space between them is no greater than 100 mm, or approximately 4’’.

For daycares, the space between balusters must be reduced to 90 mm, or approximately 3 ½’’.
Are horizontal balusters allowed?
No. All outdoor staircases and railings must have vertical balusters to prevent children from climbing.
What is the maximum distance between two posts?
To maintain the solidity of the railing, we advise to put a post every 8’ and an intermediate support post every 4’ or so.
How big should my balcony flooring be?
To prevent water from leaking in, we recommend having a balcony slightly larger than the structure on which it will be installed (approx. 1 ½’’ to 2’’).
Does my balcony have to be non-combustible?
Balconies must be non-combustible if they are less than 1,200 mm or 48’’ from the property line. Steel and aluminum floorings and structures are accepted.

Products

What is the difference between aluminum and wrought iron?
Unlike steel, commonly known as “wrought iron”, aluminum does not rust.

Highly oxidizable in its natural state, aluminum is industrially passivated by a thin layer of impermeable alumina a few micrometers thick, which protects it from corrosion. Thanks to its resistance to corrosion, lightness and maneuverability, it is a material of choice when it comes to staircases, railings and other construction products.
What is the difference between welded aluminum and mechanical aluminum?
The difference lies in the assembly method. When we talk about welded aluminum, we talk about aluminum parts that are welded together. For mechanical aluminum, parts are fixed together using stainless steel screws.

Most of our staircases are made through a welding process, making them more robust and easier to customize. Mechanical aluminum railings, on the other hand, are available at a very interesting price point and thus very popular for residential properties.

It should be noted that some boroughs prohibit the use of mechanical aluminum to preserve the heritage style and cultural identity of the propriety.
What is galvanizing?
Galvanizing is the process of applying a protective zinc coating to steel to prevent it from rusting.
Do you recommend galvanized steel?
Galvanized steel products offer the advantages of steel without some of its drawbacks – most specifically that it does not rust. However, they have a slightly less aesthetic finish and are more expensive than aluminum.

Aluminum is therefore recommended for residential and rental properties.
Is there a risk of bringing steel and aluminum into contact?
The electrochemical potential difference between steel and aluminum can cause considerable corrosion, called galvanic corrosion. Therefore, we recommend to be consistent in the use of materials or to put a membrane between dissimilar metals to avoid any direct contact between them.
What are the advantages of powder coating?
Electrostatic powder coating offers a uniform coating, a thicker finish and an increased resistance to scratches, light and weather conditions.
Is it possible to repaint aluminum products?
Although aluminum products do not require any maintenance, they may get damaged over time. To restore them, we use spray cans. Just shake well and spread a thin layer on the desired areas.
Can we paint galvanized steel?
Galvanized steel can be painted but requires that the surface be prepared according to a specific process to allow a good adhesion. As the protective layer of zinc may react with paint components and cause flaking, we do not recommend painting galvanized steel.
How often should steel be painted?
Over the years, the sun and weather may discolor and damage steel products. To keep their good look, we recommend repainting them every 5 years or so.
What is the best way to maintain a fiberglass flooring?
Regular sweeping of the balcony helps to avoid stains caused by organic substances. The use of protective cushions for metal objects also prevents the formation of rust stains that are particularly difficult to remove.

If needed, we recommend using dish soap or an all-purpose detergent (e.g., Spray Nine – available at Canadian Tire) and a soft bristle brush. The use of solvents, abrasives, pressure machines or metal brushes can damage the protective layer of the flooring and cause water to leak in.

If you want to give your balcony a nice shine, we recommend applying a light coat of wax (e.g., Turtle Wax – available at Canadian Tire) after a thorough cleaning.

During the winter, it is best to use sand and a plastic shovel. The use of an icebreaker or salt could cause irreversible damage.
Why is there a slope on my landing or balcony?
Adding a small slope helps drain the water off your landing or balcony, and prevents water from leaking in and damaging the flooring.

General Inquiries

Is it possible to buy a product and install it ourselves?
All our products are easy to install.

If you want to install a staircase or a large balcony, however, we advise you to go ahead with a professional that has all the proper tools, like G&S.
Do you offer discounts to contractors?
We offer volume discounts on certain products to contractors and those with which we have developed a business relationship. Contact us for more details.
Which payment methods do you accept?
We accept payments by debit card, Interac e-Transfer or check payable to G. & S. Fer-Aluminium Inc.
What kind of warranty do you offer?
We offer a 5-year limited warranty (30 days for wood and paint) on all our products and installation work. This warranty excludes any damage or claim caused by abnormal use, negligence, abuse or subsequent changes to the products.

Guides

How to measure a staircase
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How to measure stringers
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