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I live in an apartment that can be characterized as an old soviet-era, 5-story, multi-apartment, concrete block-based building. That means, everything was built by "stroybat" a soviet-time army battalion, whose main purpose was to construct everything that was needed by commanders. This apartment building was for officers, but still, it was made without knowledge about concrete and metal usage, everywhere you can see bad usage of materials.

There is a balcony I want to renovate. It looks terrible!

Balcony construction from side view

I removed that strange concrete substance, as it was shattered by wear and tear. There was an asphalt board between this layer and building panel, that allowed me to remove that layer with ease.

Isometric view of balcony front and edge

My goals:

  1. Remove old concrete layer from balcony floor (done)
  2. Lay a new thin layer of concrete
  3. Remove old paint from metal handrails, cut off oblique parts, that are hanging outside the "handrail design"
  4. Paint with a new paint
  5. Lay a new thin layer of gyps (or some other material), and put small rocky garden floor on it
  6. Set up wooden cover for handrails and add some wooden flower boxes outside.

rocky garden floor

The questions are about that new layer, I want to lay:

  1. How to set up concrete "box" (to make concrete stay in place, and stop it falling off the balcony sides), there is hardly place to connect any temporary wooden box for that, ideas?
  2. Which concrete should I use?
  3. How thick a metal armature will be enough for this job?
  4. Do I need any layers between building panel and my new layer?
  5. Do I need to clean/set up those metal parts, cover with something, to stop rust and not let the flexibility of metal handrail shatter my new layer.
  6. How thick should that layer be, how many sacks of that stuff will I need (will give balcony area m2 later)

I will give you some real photos (later) to let you understand more precisely.

I have questions about working on that metal handrail construction, it needs much work, but I am mostly experienced with wood and indoor constructions, but that would be wrong to ask about two things in one question, will add a link later.

PS: Sorry for my english, I don't know specific construction terminology in english.

  • Balcony size: 319-x710 mm
  • Building concrete panel thikness: 90mm
  • From panel to balcony door sill: 140mm
  • Highest place, where metal feet is out of concrete panel (in picture 7): 25mm
  • Wire diameter of bought armature (in picture 8): ~0,9mm

Far end of balcony Sill and building panel space Closer end of balcony, from outside Conrete panel and handrill feet Metal armature, that I have bought already

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how thick is the (remaining) existing balcony concrete slab? What is the dimension from the sill, down to the top of the (remaining) existing balcony concrete slab? Could you easily remove the existing metal handrail & replace it with a new wooden one (if your local Building Code would allow that)? –  Mike Perry Jul 27 '11 at 15:18
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@Mike Perry I would not replace handrill with wooden ones, at first - yes, local building code is strict, I will only clean and paint that metal, and will put onto hand touched (top) part of handrill with round shaped wood, that I will use to set up flower boxes too. I will measure everything and update question. Thanks for interest! :) –  Deele Jul 27 '11 at 18:41
    
See updates - pictures and measurements. And second, I have no money for new metal handrill, althou' it looks terrible! I will remove that roofing shale (?) that is inside metal construction (picture 1), and wield nice metal bars inside (if local authority will allow such modifications). –  Deele Jul 27 '11 at 19:22
    
before I compose my answers to your questions, could you please explain what you mean by "Lay a new thin layer of gyps (or some other material)"? Also, would you be opposed to the new "concrete" screed layer being your finished balcony surface? –  Mike Perry Jul 28 '11 at 1:42
    
Current situation (in photos), you can see building concrete panel. At first, I would like to cover those metal parts, there are some armature and other stuff hanging out, and those metal handrill feet plates, at highest point, they are 25mm up from ground. When that is covered, I want to pave the balcony with small garden rocks, I have already bought them, they are flat, glued to some farbic sieve in squares. That is why I will need another layer that will hold those rocks in place. –  Deele Jul 28 '11 at 5:58
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1 Answer 1

Below is what I would do, based on my understanding of what it is you're after achieving, please let me know if I get something wrong eg Have misunderstood anything or have missed any of your questions (I believe I've covered all of them below).

From above comments: When that is covered, I want to pave the balcony with small garden rocks, I have already bought them, they are flat, glued to some farbic sieve in squares.

  • I'm going to assume a total thickness of 25mm (1inch) for the above material, and you know how to attach this material to the new concrete top slab. Please correct me if I'm wrong on those assumption.

  • I would say you want to end up with a minimum of a 50mm (2inches) step down from top of sill to finished balcony level.

  • Totally clear the balcony, work area (size: 710mm x 319mm)

Do I need to clean/set up those metal parts, cover with something, to stop rust and not let the flexibility of metal handrail shatter my new layer.

  • Prepare and clean the existing metal hand-railing:

    • Use a wire-brush, steel-wool, wet & dry sandpaper to remove as much flaky/loose material as possible.

    • Wash down everything with a mixture of warm water and washing (dish) liquid. Rinse off thoroughly with clean water. Allow to dry, then wipe down with something like White Spirit (paint thinner).

    • Paint (primer) everything with a rust inhibiting primer.

    • Then paint/spray everything with one-coat of a good quality exterior enamel.

  • Prepare and clean the 90mm thick balcony concrete slab:

    • Refer to this question here on SE for some details/information on how to go about tackling this.

How to set up concrete "box" (to make concrete stay in place, and stop it falling off the balcony sides), there is hardly place to connect any temporary wooden box for that, ideas?

  • Seeing as the balcony isn't that big (size: 710mm x 319mm) you could use something like, "Bar Clamps" or "Pole Clamps" (2 would be enough), to pin (clamp) some shuttering material to the outside faces of the existing balcony concrete slab (against the 2 shorter sides). This would probably be easier and safer to do from the balcony below (if your below neighbour would allow you that access).

  • Make sure the side shuttering has a "slight" fall on the top face (over a distance of 319mm, 10mm would be enough), so that the new concrete will slope away from the door (sill), thus allowing any water to drain away from the building.

  • You could then attach shuttering material along the front face via connecting it to the side shuttering pieces.

Do I need any layers between building panel and my new layer?

  • Paint the top face of the existing balcony concrete slab and up the face of the sill with 2 coats of bitumen paint. This will provide some protection to the existing concrete from moisture penetrating down from above.

Which concrete should I use?
How thick should that layer be, how many sacks of that stuff will I need (will give balcony area m2 later)

How thick a metal armature will be enough for this job?
Wire diameter of bought armature (in picture 8): ~0,9mm

  • That will be fine, just place a single layer in the middle of the new concrete top slab you pour.

  • After you finish installing your "garden rock fabric" and have allowed everything to dry properly, I would:

    • Have a "general" clean-up of the whole balcony area.

    • Paint/spray a second-coat of the good quality exterior enamel onto the existing metal handrailing.


Good luck, and please let me know if you have any questions related to what I've written above.

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Thanks for answer! Practically, I have no knowlage in any paving, but that can be answered later. At first, I will need to clean those metal parts, maybe with angle grinder and some dremel. Can you sugges tany "Hammerite" rust inhibitor? Should I use it for all handrill parts? Good idea about clamps, that will be easy. Any good bitumen paint materials? Should I use asphalt board, as it was used before (in sill picture)? I will make more calculations about cement material, I have two sacks with cement already (will give model/type later). –  Deele Jul 29 '11 at 6:42
    
@Deele, "At first, I will need to clean those metal parts, maybe with angle grinder and some dremel.", go careful if you use those tools, you don't want to "eat into" the metal hand-railing... –  Mike Perry Jul 29 '11 at 15:14
    
@Deele, "Should I use asphalt board, as it was used before (in sill picture)?", personally I would go with "2 coats of bitumen paint" instead. –  Mike Perry Jul 29 '11 at 15:16
    
@Deele, "Can you sugges tany "Hammerite" rust inhibitor?" & "Any good bitumen paint materials?", I would pay a visit to your local hardware or paint "specialist" shop, either of them should be able to recommend & sell you "good" quality products. –  Mike Perry Jul 29 '11 at 15:19
    
@Deele, "Should I use it for all handrill parts?" after you have thoroughly prepared & cleaned the metal hand-railing I would, "Paint (primer) everything with a rust inhibiting primer." ie Paint all the metal parts of the hand-railing. –  Mike Perry Jul 29 '11 at 15:22
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