Introducing… glass balustrading

We’re happy to announce that Livingwood Windows is adding glass balustrades and installation services to its growing list of available offerings!

While delivering added safety functionality around stairs, balconies, terraces and more, glass balustrades and vertical glass supports can also provide a property with a striking and modern aesthetic. Because we’re so excited to introduce our brand-new range, we’ve prepared this article on everything about glass balustrades, their benefits and applications.

What are glass balustrades?

With balustrades, banisters, railings and handrails available on the market, it’s unsurprising that shoppers sometimes become confused about what they ought to buy. However, all of these products are in essence designed to provide the same thing: protection from falling over an edge where there is a potential risk.

As well as reducing risk of injury from falling, balustrades are used for both privacy and design purposes. An increasing number of homes and properties make stylish and elegant features of glass balustrading, glass banisters or glass balconies. Used as creative focal features, balustrades simultaneously provide practical benefits from wind-breaking capability and increased natural light levels to long-term durability and convenient maintenance.

Frequently utilised around staircases, landing areas and decking, they are also used in a wide range of other applications, including as fencing – complete with decorative, coloured or patterned glazing. Furthermore, as technology progresses, the flexibility of choice and design applicability provided by glass balustrades only increases.

Balustrades are generally composed of some basic elements:

Handrail: usually affixed atop a balustrade or railing, the handrail is the section which is suitable for users to hold on to.
Infill panel: a panel formed of material like glass, metal, or plastic which creates the barrier of the balustrade or railing.
Balusters/posts: balusters (root of the word “balustrade”) are the closely-spaced vertical supports, or posts, in the railing.
Fixings: the pieces holding the structure of the railing or balustrade together, i.e. bolts, anchors, screws, etc.

All of these parts together combine to form the total decorative railing system. Banisters are more or less composed of the same elements.
Note: in-fill panels are not always included. Balustrades may feature vertical supports only, wires, spindles, or simply no paneling at all.

About frameless glass balustrades

When glass is used as a structural element of the balustrade, not simply an infill panel, this often referred to as a “frameless” or “structural” glass balustrade. The intention for the railing is the same, while being designed of a strong base which clamps the glass panelling (glazing which is specified to resist the loading of weight that it will endure in its lifetime).
Due to the wide glazed surfaces offered by these products – as well as their contemporary, near-minimalist aesthetics – they are an increasingly popular architectural feature, both internally and externally.

Applications for glass balustrades

Providing a reliable safety railing solution with outstanding design potential, balustrades, handrails and infill panels featuring large glass sections are being deployed the world over in a huge range of applications. These include commercial properties such as airports, banks, entertainment venues and leisure centres, in addition to public buildings from gardens and terraces to museums, office suites, government buildings and more – not to mention domestic applications. Frameless options provide additional versatility, allowing natural light to flow through interiors by replacing traditionally imposing and darkening elements in the design.

How safe are glass balustrades?

By providing something to hold on to, there is no doubt that balustrades add extra safety to staircases, balconies and similar.
Far from being unsafe, glass balustrades can in fact offer greater long-term security and durability than wooden balustrades, and even some poor-quality metal balustrading. Because glass is a strong and robust material, resistant to erosion and rot, it will rarely if ever become unsafe to use. Resistance to the elements is another great reason glass is commonly used in external balustrading.

As they are expected to be used by inhabitants in the building or space, balustrades are typically specified to be constructed of thick, tempered safety glass. This type of glass is extremely difficult to shatter. But when it does, it breaks into relatively safe particle-like fragments instead of large, sharp shards – making nearby areas safe if the worst should occur.

In applications where inhabitants could fall through, or risk falling a dangerous distance, laminated glass features a plastic interlayer which is able to capture objects which make a hole in the glass panel.

Part K of the UK Building Regulations also stipulates specific guidance to ensure safety and security in Juliette balconies, with any property falling short of standards being deemed unsafe.

How much do glass balustrades cost?

Generally costed per metre of coverage, the total price of installation depends largely on the scope and requirements of each specific project. The materials used, structural composition and level of customisation will all be contributing factors.

A frameless glass balustrade is perhaps the costliest version available on the market. This is largely due to manufacturing requirements, with the glass – being thicker, stronger and heavier – adding greatly to the cost as the structure is designed to compensate for the lack of metal frames.

When considering the price of a frameless glass balustrade, it is worth remembering that – when complemented by the right fixings and accessories – a glass balustrade is resistant to environmental wear and tear, as well as easy to maintain, reducing upkeep costs in the long run.

Contact us today for more information on our glass balustrade pricing.

Design with glass balustrade fixings

While offering sleek, modern aesthetics by themselves, the overall design impact of glass balustrades can be complemented further with careful selection of fixings and accessories. The roundness or squareness of certain fixing components can make a big difference in the final result.

A range of strong, high-quality fixings are available including: glass clamps (flat back, radius back), baluster posts, handrail brackets (decorative or practical), glass brackets (screw-on, weld-on), fasteners and accessories (buttons, nuts, spacers and washers).

Benefits of glass balustrading

Installing framed or frameless glass balustrades in your property can provide a range of benefits.

Aesthetics

Use glass balustrades to add sophisticated style to any property. Achieve a decorative appearance with elegant glazing that facilitates panoramic views or playful refraction of light. By injecting brightly-coloured, textured and interestingly-framed glazing into your scheme it is possible to highlight the beauty of existing design elements – whether modern and chic or traditional and rustic.

Light levels

Used in the right way, glass balustrades provide a physical barrier while allowing light to pass through freely, offering the advantageous open views in and around your property. If you want to make the most of your building’s features – whether that’s a garden or pool area – utilising glass ensures you can reduce shadow coverage around the installation and guarantee a sunlit aesthetic. Compared to wood or metal, using frameless glass is also an effective way of providing an illusion of increased space when deployed within interiors.

Easy to maintain

Glass balustrades, especially frameless versions with large flat surfaces, are notably easy to clean. Balustrades of other materials featuring intricate designs can be trickier to maintain. Glass, on the other hand, can be made pristine within a few minutes by wiping down with some quality glass cleaner. In cases of scratching or other damage, a simple polish should restore the glazing’s original good looks.

Durability

As previously explained, the glass used in balustrades is far from delicate. Unlike wood, which can be prone to corrosion when exposed to the elements, glass will maintain its quality for decades. This property makes glass a worthy investment compared to other balustrade materials on the market. The investment will last generations, and it may increase your overall house price when it comes time to sell.

Security

Glass balustrades are reliably safe and strong. Because of its durability, tempered glass glazing rarely ever breaks, requiring immense pressure to shatter – equal to the strength needed to deform steel.

Easy installation

Some glass balustrades offer relatively easy installation compared to other materials due to their minimal construction elements. If you need to revamp your property’s aesthetic in no time, consider which glass balustrade options are available to you.

Glass balustrading and UK Building Regulations

Because glass balustrades provide an essential safety function, UK Building Regulations provide detailed recommendations to ensure their security while in use. The relevant safety requirements and standards are provided in Approved Document K, available to view via the Government’s Planning Portal.

As well as providing standards for safety glazing, the regulations list all areas where barriers must be installed in a property, while also specifying weight loading and minimum height limits.


Where is balustrading needed?

Minimum requirements suggest that all flights, landings and raised areas in a residential home must provide barriers where the difference in adjacent floor levels is greater than 600mm. In commercial properties, where the range of users is expected to be much wider, this condition is more stringent at 380mm. To ensure compliance, installers must ultimately give due consideration to likely hazards, as well as worst case scenarios, within the relevant property.

What are minimum heights for balustrading?

Recommended heights for balustrades within residential buildings depend largely upon the location they are installed:

• Barriers in front of a window – 800mm
• Stairs, landings, ramps and edges of internal floors – 900mm
• External balconies including Juliette balconies and edges of roofs – 1100mm

These measurements are taken from “datum” (standing floor height) to the top of the handrail. Sometimes building regulations don’t go far enough, with many home-owners reporting that taller balustrading of at least 1000m provides a greater feeling of safety around internal landings and void spaces.

Glass balustrades in summary

Whether you’re planning on renovating an interior or exterior part of your property, glass balustrading can provide much-needed functionality combined with spectacular visuals and flexible design potential. If you’re looking for continuous, frameless glass panels or a more conventional banister-like arrangement using handrails and support posts, we’re more than happy to help.

Contact us today to enquire about glass balustrading products and installation services in your area.