How to design balcony railings with glass

Written by linda marie
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How to design balcony railings with glass
Glass balustrades complement design. (toiture d"immeuble image by Nath Photos from

Balcony railings with glass are known as glass balustrades. When used outdoors, they provide a noise barrier, a wind breaker and safety. Indoors or outdoors, they are a striking architectural element. Three elements must be considered in your design: aesthetics, function and location. The perfect combination of railing system and glass will complement the interior or exterior design of any home.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Photographs of glass balustrades
  • File folders
  • Measuring tape
  • Graph paper
  • Pencils

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  1. 1

    Look through architectural and design magazines as well as websites featuring glass balustrades. Start a file folder of the applications you like best. It will be invaluable in explaining what you want to your contractor or supplier.

  2. 2

    Measure your balcony or deck and draw it to scale on graph paper.

  3. 3

    Determine the railing height. Standard heights are 36 inches and 42 inches. Consider both function and location. If the location is particularly windy or noisy, 42-inch height is better. Write your choice on your drawing.

  4. 4

    Select a railing system. Choices include side-mounted posts with posts installed on the side of the balcony and top-mounted posts with posts installed into the flooring of the balcony. You can opt to not have a top rail with some systems or decide not to have a bottom rail by using glass clips. Systems can flush mount to the balcony or leave room for a wash out. Most systems are done in aluminium or stainless steel. Like shower hardware, an almost endless variety of finishes is available. Write down all your specifications on your drawing.

  5. 5

    Explore all the glass options available to fit your railing system. With most systems, 3/8- or 1/2-inch thick glass slides into a pocket on post and a vinyl gasket is added to hold it firmly in place. Glass options for a clear view include clear (tinged with green) glass, low-iron (water clear) glass or Shower Guard® glass from Guardian Industries. It is fabricated to permanently repel water spots and hard-water stains. Glass options for privacy include sandblasted, bronze or grey smoke glass; textured glass in patterns like Master Carre, Stippolyte, Rain, Solar Rain (water clear), Storm, Glue Chip and Machine Antique (water clear); and kiln-formed art glass. Write down your choice on your drawing.

  6. 6

    Visit a glass supplier specialising in architectural decorative glass to view glass sample.

Tips and warnings

  • Stainless steel is a low carbon steel containing 10% or more chromium by weight. While more expensive than aluminium, it is recognised as a superior metal for its durability.
  • All building codes require that glass insets for balustrades must be tempered for safety.
  • Some glass balustrades may not be appropriate if small, active children are in a household. Glass that is both laminated and tempered may be a feasible option.

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