Design Buzz

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Design Buzz: Lavi Railing Systems for Nightclubs and Bars

You’ve seen them everywhere and if you’re in the nightclub and bar sector, you may have even purchased them – railing systems. You will see railing systems commonly at your local Appleby’s, Chilli’s and Wendy’s.

There is no shortage of sources to purchase railing systems, but if you’re in the nightclub industry and have purchased this product, you have probably experienced the frustration of successfully installing it. Although there is an abundancy of purchasing outlets, there is little in the way of meaningful installation guidance. I’m not referring to railing installations that are wall-mounted, those that sit just several inches above a half-wall, nor about glass railing systems. What I’m talking about are tubular railings that are installed greater than 24” (600mm) above the floor (similar to those shown in the foreground of the adjacent photo). The pride of owning a railing system for your nightclub or bar can be short-lived unless you follow proper design guidelines, as set forth in this article. Many installations can become rattle-traps unless installed correctly.

Why Do All Nightclub Railing Products Look So Much Alike?

If you've researched railing products, you may notice something strange: the products on everyone’s websites look identical – at least they do to me. I assure you, if you are searching brass or stainless steel railings and fittings, you will discover numerous sources where you can purchase them:

  • R & B Wagner, Milwaukee, WI
  • BuyRailings.com, Danbury, CT
  • Modular Handrail Designs, Fort Mill, SC
  • Lavi Industries, Valencia, CA

I’m sure there are others, but the reality is that all fittings (and probably the tubing) are manufactured by one source – Lavi Industries (@LaviIndustries). Anybody else selling these products is merely purchasing them from Lavi, and these companies were probably set-up as distributors for greater efficiency. So save yourself the trouble of price comparisons. But pricing isn’t the issue here, folks, nor is it the distribution network, either – it’s the lack of meaningful installation information. You will simply not discover the tricks to effectively install these products on any of these websites (not even Lavi’s) or by calling their toll-free numbers. I know, I’ve lived through this. But don’t worry, because I can help.

What Are Some Typical Nightclub Design Applications for Lavi Railings?

At this point, I’m going to refer to these products by the company that manufactures them – Lavi Industries.Lavi Railing System

The railings and fittings produced by Lavi really are very good products, as long as you know the secrets to successfully installing them. The most typical applications for nightclubs and bars are as follows:

  • Half-wall décor – often accompanied by 6”H (150mm) decorative glass.
  • Wall-mounted hand railings.
  • Free-standing decorative railings (such as the free-standing drink rail shown in the above photo).

Unless you opt to core-drill, the real culprit is the free-standing decorative railing system, which are detailed in the following installation tips.

Design and Installation Tips for Lavi Railing Systems

Here are a few ideas for consideration when purchasing, designing and installing free-standing Lavi railing systems:Detail of Free Standing Drink Rail

  • I have a preference for polished brass railings, as I feel they provide the most upscale finished appearance. However, polished brass requires a routine maintenance schedule, so unless you are committed to this, purchase stainless steel.
  • I prefer “ball” fittings over “flush” fittings.
  • Be extra careful when ordering fittings, as it is easy to mismatch the finishes, from one to the next. For instance, if you prefer a shiny finish and you desire stainless steel, many fittings are only available with a chrome finish (which is a fairly good match); the only stainless steel finish can sometimes only be satin.
  • Cost is difficult to estimate, due to so many variables, but the diameter of the railing system is most critical to cost efficiency, and because of this I normally recommend 1 ½” (38mm) dia. tubing; anything larger is overkill.
  • All ornamental tubing such as this is known as thin-wall (0.060” (1.5mm) thick), and as such, needs to be bolstered by a structural internal sleeve. I have found that 1 3/8” (35mm) O.D. black iron sprinkler pipe provides a very good, tight fit. The internal sleeve should ideally extend the full height of the upright and needs to be threaded on one end.
  • A matching black iron flanged fitting will be needed to fasten to the pipe.
  • The flange of the above-mentioned flanged fitting will be anchored to the substrate:
    1. For surface-mounted concrete installations, use three ¼” (6mm) x 4” (~100mm) long Tek screws, typically installed with a roto-hammer.
    2. For wood floor or wood wall installations, install two layers of 2x* blocking 6” (~150mm) below the surface of the underlayment. Anchor the cast iron flange to the blocking with three 3” (~75mm) coarse-threaded deck screws.

For wall-mounted hand railings, you will need to plan accordingly:

  • Follow the recommendations of the International Building Code (IBC) for mounting height, offset, horizontal extensions, etc.

  • Install solid wood blocking from stud-to-stud, behind each wall bracket.

Most importantly, the black iron structural sleeve, installed precisely as stated above,, will ensure the success of the installation. Oddly, sprinkler pipe is not common in plumbing supply stores; it can normally be acquired through a sprinkler contractor.

If your brass or stainless steel railing system is properly installed, it will provide you with years of service.

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* For 2 x 4 construction, use 2 x 4 blocking; for 2 x 6 construction, use 2 x 6 blocking.

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