A Quick Guide on Glass Railings

Glass railing is a strong option for modern and contemporary homes and buildings. Adding glass railing to your project can give it that extra bit of zest to set it apart. We feel that there’s a lot of questions unanswered about Glass Railings, and as specialists on the matter, we thought it would be interesting to show some of the practical and technical aspects of the Glass Railing Systems.

Glass Railing Heights & Thicknesses

Glass railing heights follow the same guidelines as other railings governed by International Building Code (IBC) and International Residential Code (IRC). For commercial applications, it is most common to use 42” high glass railings. In residential spaces, it is common to use 36” high glass on stairways and 39” or 42” on balcony or other level applications. If you are using your glass railing as a pool guard, code often requires 48” tall railings. It is always best to check with your local code officials before ordering your glass to see what the best height is for your project.

Thicknesses, however, are not governed by either IBC or IRC codes. Most tempered glass comes in either ⅜” or ½” thicknesses while most laminate glass is 9/16” thick. Usually, ⅜” tempered glass is used only if it is being put in a “framed” system, meaning that there are vertical supports between glass panels. If you want to use tempered glass with a “frameless” system, meaning it has no vertical supports between panels, then you’ll need to upgrade to ½” tempered. See the photo below for reference of a “framed” versus “frameless” system. Tempered glass is typically used for residential applications, although it can be used commercially as well.

Laminated glass is typically composed of 2 panels of ¼” glass with a 1/16” interlayer keeping the two together. The final dimensions are 9/16”. There are different thicknesses of laminated glass, but 9/16” is the standard for laminated glass railings. Laminated glass is typically used for commercial settings, roof tops, or hurricane force winds.

Handrails and Top Rails

When talking about Glass Railing systems, there is also many other things to consider, other than the glass itself. You need to decide also if you prefer a handrail or top cap on the railings.

A handrail is a graspable structure that usually either protrudes out from the glass or sits over the glass. In either case, a handrail has to be strong enough to offer support to someone holding onto it.

Top rails, on the other hand, are designed to keep the glass panels tied together, and are designed to help your glass railings maintain that “clean” look, however they will not provide that much security if you want to hold to them, since they are not big enough to allow a handgrasp.

Mounting Surfaces

The strenght on the mounting structure is the single most important aspect of the whole assembly. We are dealing with glass here, so the safety of the mounting must be taken very seriously.

Glass railing Posts or Glass railing talon spigot brackets can be mounted to a variety of different surfaces, including concrete, hardwood, composite, and other materials. But, depending on the thicknesses of the substrate, you may need to consider using a through bolted mounting style rather than a traditional lag screw.

Each scenario is different, so it’s always good to check with your glass railing manufacturer on mounting material requirements and whether you should through bolt or lag.

Glass Railings: Safety & Cleaniness

Remember, there are various types of glass and we are always available to help you pick the best option for your home or business. Don’t shy away from calling us or using the contact form to get in touch, and we will answer all the questions you may still have.

Don’t forget to check our other articles to learn more about glass railings, and all other products we offer.

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