When the hot summer months begin, people tend to get rather creative when finding ways to cool off. Because most homes in big cities don’t have private pools, and beaches can be far away or difficult to access, many city residents will have to look for other means to cool themselves down during hot weather. One of those in putting an inflatable pool on a balcony.
While the temptation may be overwhelming to install an inflatable pool on your balcony as a cool respite during hot weather, most balconies are simply not designed to support that type of load. In most cases, an inflatable pool will place too much load on the balcony, causing it to collapse.
While some balconies have been specifically designed to support the extra weight of additional items such as swimming pools and hot tubs, most conventional balconies have been designed only to withstand the load of their human users and the furniture they place on the balcony.
Can A Balcony Hold An Inflatable Pool?
Most balconies cannot withstand the loads that would be placed on them by an inflatable swimming pool. To understand why this is, you will need to understand a little bit more about how balconies are designed and just how heavy water really is.
Generally speaking, balconies are designed to support a load of around sixty pounds per square foot. This reasonable figure ensures your balcony will remain sturdy under almost any circumstances. That is unless you place a swimming pool on it.
Water is exceptionally heavy – one cubic foot of water weighs about 62 pounds. Considering that most balconies are designed to hold a maximum load of 60 pounds per square foot, a balcony will already be overloaded with one foot of water. If you add another foot of water, the balcony will be subjected to double its designed load.
From this, it is clear that your average balcony would not be able to support a pool, especially considering that this calculation has not yet taken into account the added load of the people in the pool.
What Determines How Much Load A Balcony Can Support?
Several factors determine how much weight a balcony can support. Firstly, you must consider how the balcony was built and in what environment it was built. You also need to consider how well the balcony has been maintained throughout its lifespan.
Other considerations include:
- Quality of the materials used to build the balcony,
- its fasteners,
- general wear and tear the balcony may be forced to endure or withstand.
What About Safety Factors?
When balconies are designed, there is always a safety factor built in. This means that the floor is designed to support the expected loads plus an additional load for safety purposes. In most cases, the safety factor is no more than double the expected load.
The reason for the safety factor, as you can imagine, is to ensure the safety of everybody who uses the balcony and to ensure it can withstand any reasonable load placed on it. (A swimming pool is not a reasonable load).
Safety factors are designed to accommodate certain circumstances where perhaps the materials don’t behave as expected. If the material were to behave unexpectedly, the safety factor would ensure that the balcony remained standing.
Safety factors also exist to allow for imperfections or defects in the materials or construction methods. There is also the consideration of irregular loads placed on the balcony that are not expected or present at all times.
An example of this is a snow load, where the balcony may become overloaded with snow during winter. Without a safety factor built in, the balcony may collapse under these circumstances.
Another aspect of the safety factor is accommodating for a loss in bearing capacity. This can occur as materials age or become damaged. The safety factor ensures that the balcony remains intact irrespective of a sudden loss of bearing capacity of the materials from which it is made.
The compression layer that redistributes the loads placed on a balcony floor will also allow the balcony to take a greater load because the floor will be assisted by another part of the greater building structure.
Despite the redistribution of loads and the safety factor (often no larger than 2) built into a floor slab, most balconies are still unable to withstand the forces of a load, such as an inflatable swimming pool.
Other Considerations For A Balcony Pool
Suppose you have determined that your specific balcony is able to withstand the extra loads placed on it by an inflatable swimming pool, and you are able to place a pool on the balcony. In that case, there are several other considerations to take into account.
- Firstly, drainage may become an issue. Unless your balcony has a drainage system that can quickly remove large amounts of water, you may encounter an issue if somebody accidentally leans too hard on your swimming pool wall. A huge amount of water will quickly gush out onto your balcony. It could potentially make its way to the balconies below.
- Another factor to consider is noise. This is especially true if the pool is used by children. Children tend to make a lot of noise, especially when having fun. This is even more apparent if there is a swimming pool involved. Your children’s screams of delight as they play in their swimming pool will quickly make their way into your neighbor’s homes, potentially causing a nuisance.
- It’s also important to remember that you may need to drain your swimming pool and top it up occasionally. As a result, you will need access to drainage and a facility to top up the water.
- If you leave a pool standing it can quickly become dirty and polluted, changing the water is expensive and wasteful, leaving it up will add additional stress to the balcony.
Built in Balcony Pools
You may have have seen in hotels, apartments or penthouses that have pools or hot tubs on the balconies. These will have been planned into the construction of the whole property.
Before you consider adding anything this large you will need to consult the apartment management to be absolutely sure your balcony was designed to accommodate this kind of weight.
Alternative Balcony Fun For Children
Thankfully there are many ways for your kids to have fun on a balcony without a swimming pool. In fact, most kids will prefer swimming in a larger pool with other children, so it may be worthwhile checking out local public pools with swimming lessons.
- You could potentially let your kids spray each other down with a hosepipe on the balcony. This will help them cool down while having tons of fun.
- A balcony can also be a great place to put up a small tent where your child can play a game or read a book in some shade on the balcony. .
- you can put up a fake astroturf grass section to allow them to sit and play as well. These can be cheaply acquired from ost DIY and Garden centres.
As you can see from the above, balconies are generally not designed to withstand the additional load of a swimming pool. Water is exceptionally heavy – far heavier than we think.
As a result, most balconies will collapse under the weight of a swimming pool filled with water. So really you should look at other watery fun for your family on the balcony.