Essential Considerations For The Right Glass Balustrade

glass balustrade - rooftop patio with glass balustrade
Choosing the right balustrade for your home or commercial space takes careful planning. Here are key points to consider when selecting your glass balustrades.

Glass balustrades are an excellent investment that will bring style and functionality to a range of spaces: offices, private homes, hotels and restaurants. They work equally well indoors and outdoors to provide unobstructed views and high levels of safety. However, choosing the right glass balustrade for your space takes some careful planning.

Here are some key points to consider when choosing glass balustrades.

The type of glass

Architectural glass falls into two broad categories: toughened glass (also known as tempered glass) and laminated glass. Sometimes, glass may be both toughened and laminated, but more often than not they are used separately for specific purposes. 

Toughened glass is subject to extreme thermal processing during manufacturing, by being subject to intense heat and then rapidly cooled. This creates a very hard and fire-resistant outer coating that is very difficult to break, even with tough impacts. In the unlikely event that it does shatter, it will form blunt pebbles rather than dangerous shards. 

Laminated glass, sometimes also called safety glass, has a PVB layer inserted in between two layers of panes, which holds it together if the panes of glass are broken. The double glazing and central layer also adds extra strength and insulation to the glass, although typically it is also thicker and heavier than toughened glass.

Consider the placement of the balustrade when deciding which type of glass to use: both provide a good level of safety and protection and are extremely tough and durable. However, where safety is paramount such as high balconies, laminated glass should be installed because it will remain intact on impact and therefore protect against falls.

If you want the glass balustrade for mainly aesthetic purposes or there is no significant risk of a fall from height should it shatter, then toughened glass should be perfectly well suited to the task. Toughened glass is actually technically stronger than laminated glass due to the thermal treatment, so it is highly durable and the risk of damage is low.

Aesthetic considerations

Glass balustrades are available in a range of designs and styles. Research online and ask to see the past portfolio of your chosen supplier. This will give you some idea of which styles of balustrade best suit your house or commercial property, such as framed, frameless, and colour and design details.

Frameless glass balustrades have a clean and contemporary look and offer an uninterrupted view or flow of light around an interior space. They may require thicker laminated glass for safety considerations and this can add to the cost. 

Framed balustrades offer the opportunity to incorporate metal or wooden posts, which can be a pleasing blend of traditional and modern, and are also robust enough to be combined with thinner toughened glass. Both styles can be incorporated with handrails for extra safety and visibility. Semi-frameless styles offer a good balance between the two.

It may be possible to specify a particular design of glass, such as semi opaque if you want to combine light with privacy. Laminated glass can be combined with designs such as company branding or decorative details to add extra interest or reinforce corporate identity. 

Building regulations and structural integrity

Structural glass installations must conform with the relevant building regulations to ensure that they are safe, maintain the structural integrity of the building, and are legally compliant. Make sure that you understand how the regulations will impact your choice of balustrade. Your supplier or installer should be able to provide you with guidance.

The balustrade will need to meet specific load and height requirements, depending on its intended use and the height of the installation. The glass must be compliant with British Safety Standards, and be toughened or laminated as previously explained.  

Maintenance and cleaning

Glass balustrades are low maintenance and able to withstand harsh climates. If they are of good quality and correctly fitted by a professional installation team, they should not present any serious problems. Clean them regularly with non abrasive materials, such as a mild detergent and a soft cloth. 

This will maintain the clarity of the glass and ensure you benefit from maximum light flow and untainted views. When cleaning the glass, take the opportunity to inspect the fittings and joints for any sign of damage and wear and tear, and arrange for any repairs to be carried out promptly to ensure the structure remains safe.

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