The best frameless glass balustrade can add a rich visual element to any home.
But unless you’re an architect, or have experience designing buildings, installing a glass balustrade might seem like something only professionals can tackle.
From the outside, these kinds of structures may appear complicated and inaccessible, but installing a frameless glass balustrade is easier than it looks.
It just requires careful planning and execution to ensure everything fits together perfectly.
If you’re thinking about installing one on your home but aren’t quite sure where to start, read on for our guide to choosing the best frameless glass balustrade for your property.
What is a frameless glass balustrade?
A frameless glass balustrade is a type of railing that is built from panels of clear, tempered glass.
It is often used in commercial architecture and can sometimes be found in high-end residential properties.
A frameless glass balustrade is a specific type of glass balustrade that does not have a visible frame holding the glass panels together.
A frameless glass balustrade is built with the panel edges touching to form a continuous surface.
Frameless glass balustrades are available in a variety of styles, including cantilevered, projecting, and curved designs. They may be combined with additional materials, such as stainless steel, that add visual interest and help obscure the structure.
What to look for when choosing a frameless glass balustrade
If you’ve never installed a glass balustrade before, it’s important to choose one that’s right for your property. Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a frameless glass balustrade for your home:
– Safety and accessibility– Before installing a new glass balustrade, you should check with your local building and planning authorities to ensure the design complies with safety and accessibility requirements. Make sure you choose a design that meets the necessary regulations and that it’s easy for people to walk along.
– Visual appeal – It’s no secret that a glass balustrade will add visual appeal to your home, but you should keep in mind what style of glass balustrade will work best with your architecture. For example, you may want to match the color of your windows or door frames. Alternatively, you can use a bolder, more vibrant color to create a focal point.
– Maintenance – A glass balustrade can last for decades, but you will need to keep it clean and free of grime to protect it.
-Make sure you choose a balustrade that is suitable for outdoor use – such as stainless steel, aluminum, or iron – or one that is built with a protective coating that can withstand the elements.
Safety Barriers that are Visible
Because frameless glass balustrades require minimum installation, you must be confident in the safety and dependability of this safety barrier.
They can construct a minimum, visually pleasing, and practical glass barrier between levels with no visible fixings using their in-house design and structural engineering expertise.
Curved glass balustrades can be made in lengths of over 6m and at varying heights, allowing for additional design freedom for these bespoke structural glass pieces.
Colored interlayers can also be included in the laminating operation to provide a more decorative effect, or other laminated materials such as wire meshes of fabrics can be integrated for an even more unique impact.
Handles, handrails, and caps can be added as needed to the glass balustrade design, and various edging features are available to complement all architectural designs.
In frameless balustrading, Inox Star Hardware always recommends using specialty low-iron glass.
This will prevent any ‘greening’ effect from appearing on the exposed glass edges of the frameless balustrade.
Frameless glass balustrades are typically made from tempered glass, which is designed to break into small pieces when it’s impacted, preventing injuries.
Tempered glass is four times stronger than standard glass and can support up to 400 pounds.
However, it’s important to note that some tempered glass does contain a small number of hazardous materials. Other materials used for glass balustrades include
Aluminum – This is a lightweight metal that is also corrosion-resistant and weatherproof. It’s also an excellent choice for automation.
Stainless steel – A popular choice for commercial architecture, stainless steel is corrosion-resistant and built to last.
Iron – Iron balustrades are often found in Victorian-style architecture and can be painted in a variety of colors.
Size and shape
The size and shape of the glass panels will have a big impact on the overall design of your glass balustrade.
Glass size – While it’s possible to install any size of glass in your railing, larger panels are more likely to break.
If you choose larger panels, you’ll need to increase the thickness of your railing to prevent it from being too flimsy.
For example, most residential glass balustrades have panels that are around 9mm thick, while commercial glass balustrades have panels that are usually between 12mm and 15mm thick.
Glass shape – While the size of your glass panels is mainly dictated by visual appeal, the shape can affect the strength and weight capacity of your railing.
For example, where a square panel of glass can support up to 150 pounds, a rectangular panel can support up to 400 pounds.
The best fixing method for each particular glass balustrade installation will be determined by the glass specification, the position of the balustrade, the project type, and building construction.
During our design phase, Inox Star Hardware investigates all of these factors of building structure to provide the best balustrade and associated anchoring system for your project.
The balustrades rest on top of the surface and are kept in place using a 124.5mm high fastening that is bolted down below the balustrade for maximum strength.
This form of installation allows for the installation of a drainage profile to help channel the waterway that flows down the glass. This type of attachment allows for a maximum line load of 3kN.
Offset over slab fixings are installed in a similar manner, but they are fastened down into the slab below via a fitting on the inward-facing side of the balustrade.
The balustrade system and frameless structural glass balustrades are appropriate for commercial applications such as manufacturing, warehouses (with light traffic), and retail.
Due to rules, the maximum height for glass balustrades within these buildings is 900mm for staircases and ramps, and 1100mm for landings and floor edges.
Commercial building line load requirements vary depending on geography.
Line load requirements for offices and work areas with light foot traffic are 0.36 kN/m (applied 1100mm above FFL), 0.5 kN/m2 UDL (applied to the full glass face, below line load height), and 0.25kN concentrated load (applied to any part of the glass panel below line load).
Installing a glass balustrade is a big project, so you’ll want to make sure you have everything you need before you start.
You’ll need to make sure your walls are strong enough to support the glass panels and that there isn’t anything that could be damaged, such as trees (or people) below your property.
You’ll also need to clear out any trees or bushes beneath your property to prevent them from getting damaged during the installation.
You may also need to hire a professional engineer to ensure your new railing meets building requirements and complies with any necessary safety regulations.
If you don’t do this, and the balustrade doesn’t meet building requirements, you could be fined.
Frameless glass balustrade mounting consideration & options
– Height- The height of a glass balustrade should be at least 20 feet.
This is the height of the balustrade from the ground, so it should be at least 15 feet tall and 20 feet wide. Some frameless glass balustrades are made with an additional support column that extends to the top of the glass panels.
This column is typically placed between five and ten inches above the base of the glass panels, so you’ll need to find out if this additional column is required by your specific building regulations.
– Weather resistance- Another consideration when choosing a new glass balustrade is its ability to withstand various weather conditions and not lose its integrity over time.
Glass balustrades are usually designed to last for many years, so they should resist water, frost, and other damaging weather conditions that may occur during installation or maintenance work on your property.
Because the support channel is hidden beneath the floor, it is absolutely unnoticeable.
The support channel is located above the floor level. This option is preferable when excavating a channel into the floor is impractical.
A glass balustrade is an attractive and stylish addition to any home.
However, before you start shopping for one, you’ll want to make sure you choose one that’s right for your circumstances.
Make sure you check with your local authorities to see if you need to follow any building regulations when installing a glass balustrade.
You’ll also want to make sure your walls are strong enough to support the weight of the glass panels.
Finally, make sure you have everything you need to install the glass balustrade, such as the correct tools and a professional engineer if necessary.