14th Aug 2023 -

In the world of modern construction and design, achieving the perfect synergy between aesthetics and functionality is paramount. Unistrut, a versatile building system renowned for its robustness and adaptability, is a brilliant solution for combining these two factors. In this comprehensive guide, we look at how to bring aesthetics and functionality together using the remarkable capabilities of Unistrut. 

What are the issues with balancing aesthetics and functionality?

It can prove to be a significant challenge that architects and structural engineers often encounter when integrating Unistrut installations into various construction and industrial projects. Below, we explore a range of solutions tailored to address specific issues that can arise. 

1. Visual appearance

Integrating Unistrut into the overall design scheme of a building can be challenging because it is known for its utilitarian appearance, characterised by exposed metal channels and hardware. Therefore, Unistrut might not be aesthetically pleasing in spaces where design and visual appeal are important.
Solution: Think about using cladding or finishes to integrate the Unistrut system with the design. Consider using materials that fit well with the existing design aesthetic - such as wood or decorative metal covers - to conceal the Unistrut components and create a more welcoming environment. With this approach, the system can still maintain its functionality while minimising its visual impact.

2. Integration with design

Incorporating Unistrut into architectural designs without it looking like an afterthought can be challenging. Architects and designers often strive for seamless integration of functional elements, but Unistrut's industrial look can clash with certain design aesthetics.

Solution: Collaborate closely with other architects and designers to incorporate Unistrut into the initial design concept. For example, you can design custom fittings or bracket options that align with the architectural style, making Unistrut an intentional and harmonious element of the design.

3. Customisation and accessibility

Unistrut installations can make accessing equipment and systems more challenging due to the way the channels and supports are designed. Because of this, maintenance and repairs may require more effort and time, impacting the functionality of the systems.

Solution: Install access panels, removable covers, or hinged sections within the Unistrut installation. This allows for easy access to equipment and systems for maintenance and repairs without compromising the overall aesthetic.

4. Maintenance and hygiene

In environments where cleanliness and hygiene are crucial, such as healthcare facilities or food processing plants, the exposed surfaces of Unistrut can accumulate dust, dirt, and debris. This can create sanitation issues and compromise the functionality of the space.

Solution: Utilise antimicrobial coatings or finishes for Unistrut components, which reduces the potential for dust and debris accumulation. Also, you should incorporate regular cleaning schedules and easy-to-remove covers for routine maintenance.

5. Flexibility vs rigidity

Unistrut is known for its flexibility and adaptability. But in some cases, this flexibility might lead to installations that lack the structural rigidity or stability required for certain applications.

Solution: Combine Unistrut with other structural elements, such as beams or columns, to provide the required rigidity for specific applications. You should ensure that the design accounts for load-bearing requirements and structural integrity.

6. Corrosion and durability

Depending on the environment, Unistrut components can be susceptible to corrosion, especially in harsh conditions or corrosive environments. Over time, this can impact the aesthetics and functionality.
Solution: Select Unistrut materials with appropriate corrosion-resistant coatings (powder coating, hot-dip galvanising and zinc plating) or specify stainless steel components for areas exposed to corrosive environments. Regular maintenance and inspection should also be part of the long-term plan.

7. Concealing wiring and services

In some cases, Unistrut installations might not provide a desired and effective way to conceal wiring, piping, or other services, which can affect the overall appearance and functionality of the space.

Solution: Design Unistrut installations with integrated cable trays, conduits, or raceways to neatly route and conceal wiring and services. Utilise compatible Unistrut accessories such as Unistrut feet and angle fittings to create a clean and organised appearance.

Pros and cons of concealing Unistrut systems

Concealing a Unistrut system can offer various advantages and disadvantages depending on the specific context and goals of your project. Here is a breakdown of the pros and cons.

Aesthetic appeal: Concealing a Unistrut system can contribute to a cleaner and more aesthetically pleasing appearance.Accessibility: When you conceal a Unistrut system, it can prove more difficult to access for maintenance, repairs, or modifications.
Design flexibility: There is greater design flexibility when you conceal a Unistrut system, as you can choose finishes that match the overall design.Complexity: Concealing the Unistrut system can complicate the installation process, as the concealment materials need to be properly aligned, attached, and finished.
Protection: When you conceal a Unistrut system, it can offer protection against physical damage, environmental factors, and corrosion.Heat dissipation: For concealing the Unistrut system, it may block the natural convection of heat generated by systems attached to a Unistrut channel strut.
Improved acoustics: A concealed Unistrut system with acoustic materials or coverings can help improve the sound insulation of a space.Future modifications: This could limit the ease of future modifications to the system, as the concealment materials may need to be removed and replaced to make changes.
Safety and compliance: Concealing the Unistrut system can prevent accidental contact with sharp edges or surfaces.Code and compliance: It may require additional approvals depending on local building codes and regulations.

Can you incorporate lighting with Unistrut systems?

Whether it is a large commercial building or a small office space, integrating lighting solutions with Unistrut systems presents a dynamic and versatile approach. Known for its adaptable metal framing components, Unistrut offers a creative platform to seamlessly blend functionality and aesthetics in lighting design. The strategic integration of lighting fixtures within Unistrut channels provides a robust framework for innovation. 

1. Fluorescent lights

Key considerations: Ensure that the system is capable of supporting the weight of the fluorescent light fixture. Use appropriate hardware, such as brackets or clamps, to securely attach the fixture to the Unistrut channel. Also, make sure the fixture is aligned properly for effective lighting.

Exposed or covered: Fluorescent lights are often used in commercial and industrial settings, where they may be left exposed for efficient lighting. However, they can also be covered with diffusers or protective covers to distribute light more evenly and reduce glare.

2. LED fixtures

Key considerations: Select components that can handle the weight of the LED fixture. Choose suitable mounting hardware - such as specialised brackets or adapters - to attach the fixture securely to the Unistrut channel. Plus, ensure proper heat dissipation for LED fixtures, especially if they generate significant heat.

Exposed or covered: LED fixtures are commonly used in various settings, and their design often allows for exposed installation. Depending on the fixture's design, it may come with its own diffusers or covers for light distribution.

3. Lighting controls and sensors

Key considerations: Mount the control panels or sensors securely on the Unistrut channel. You should ensure proper wiring and connections for effective control of the lighting system.

Exposed or covered: These components are often exposed for easy access and visibility. However, in certain environments or applications, they may be covered to protect against tampering or damage.

4. Pendant lights

Key considerations: Determine the weight and dimensions of the pendant light and choose components accordingly. Use appropriate hanging hardware, such as cables or chains, to suspend the pendant light from the Unistrut channel. You need to ensure that the height and placement of the pendant light are suitable for the space.

Exposed or covered: Pendant lights are often left exposed, as they can add a decorative element to the area. However, you must consider any safety regulations and potential for swinging or movement.

5. Track lights

Key considerations: Select a compatible track lighting system that can be securely attached to the Unistrut channel. You should ensure that the track heads or fixtures can be easily inserted and adjusted along the track. Also, pay attention to the weight distribution and balance of the track lights.

Exposed or covered: Track lighting systems are typically exposed, as they allow for flexible and adjustable illumination. Plus, exposed track lights can contribute to the overall aesthetics of the space.

6. Industrial high-bay lights

Key considerations: Choose Unistrut components designed for heavy loads if installing high-bay lights. Ensure that the mounting hardware provides a secure attachment for the weight of the fixture. Consider heat dissipation and ventilation for high-bay lights that generate heat.

Exposed or covered: Industrial high-bay lights are often left exposed in warehouses, manufacturing facilities, and similar environments, as they are designed to provide efficient overhead lighting. 

How to buy Unistrut components with speedy UK delivery

When it comes to sourcing high-quality Unistrut products, look no further than Building Materials Nationwide. We take pride in offering a comprehensive range of solutions that cater to various construction and infrastructure needs. From versatile channel systems to robust Unistrut window bracket options and accessories, our range ensures you have access to the finest components for your projects. Our commitment to excellence extends beyond just products; our knowledgeable team is ready to assist you in finding the right solutions to meet your specific requirements.

For our valued trade customers, a trade account with Building Materials Nationwide is a seamless process that brings a host of benefits. When you open a trade account, you gain personalised support from your trade account manager who can organise quick and reliable deliveries as well as help you find everything you need at competitive trade prices. Sign up for a trade account and shop with confidence and our commitment to quality and customer satisfaction. If you would like more information, give our knowledgeable team a call for a friendly chat.