Every now and then I get these flashes of inspiration and I just have to act on them. Like recently, I hatched a brilliant plan to cover up our balcony so the boys could spend a bit more time out there. The problem with apartment balconies these days are the restrictions applied so that you don’t change the exterior of the building too much. I figured that if I can’t permanently seal off the balcony, I can at least make it a little “safer” by wrapping the railings with plastic so little arms and legs can’t get trapped between the bars. It also makes it just that much harder to climb. Of course it’s not escape-proof and by no means can the children be left unattended, but at least you can be assured to get to your child before he manages to do anything too dangerous.
One of the first activities the boys got to was painting. There is such a lovely view from the balcony that the idea to paint must have been inspired by my daydreams of the boys painting a scenery. We live in an apartment so I figure this is about as close as they will ever get to painting “outdoors”. Since they were “outside”, I wasn’t too worried about the mess they might make – just in case you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m a lazy Mum who looks for short cuts wherever and whenever I can. Clearly, I underestimated just how much of a mess Hercules is capable of (and no, the picture below does not indicate just how much of a mess he made for me to clean up).
So when Aristotle asked me if they could paint again the next day, I promptly decided that the answer would be “no”. I’ll have to brace myself for another clean up session before we do this again. As it was, I just managed to finish washing the balcony before the monsoon thunder storm blew in.
Maybe next time they can just draw pictures on the blackboard with chalk… Or play bubbles with the bubble gun… Oh yes, we’re supposed to get to work on our botany project, too…
Just in case you’re wondering, that’s just clear plastic tablecloth available by the meter from ACE Hardware thrown over the balcony and secured with cable ties. If you have trouble getting the plastic tablecloth, another alternative is to use shade cloth. Of course, the colour of your shade cloth will affect the external aesthetics of your apartment so you might want to take that into consideration.
If you don’t mind spending the money for something a little better and “longer term”, you can probably find someone to attach some polycarbonate sheets (you can also search under these terms: acrylic, plexiglass or Lexan sheets) to your balcony railings.
The problem with plastic sheets and polycarbonate is that they cut off airflow so it can make your balcony feel stifling, especially if you don’t have a balcony fan. Materials like deck netting, bamboo fencing are suitable alternatives that are affordable and easy to DIY installation. If you’re local, you can find deck netting in ACE Hardware – I didn’t get it because they didn’t have “invisible colours”.
Then there are companies that make special balcony covers that you can buy locally (if you can find them) or online:
Finally, there are companies that specialise in retractable materials that you can use to cover your railings. I don’t know of any companies locally, but I’ll bet this is probably one of the more expensive railing covers you can get.
For more about childproofing your balcony, you should read “Childproofing Balconies and Decks” by Health Guidance.