Glass Balustrades and glass stairs

Add a timeless and sophisticated look to your property with glass balustrading. 

The balustrade consists of several balusters spaced evenly and connected together to form a decorative railing supported by baluster posts. A baluster is a single post, balusters are several of those posts, and a balustrade is all of those posts joined together as a unit. 

Glass manages solar heat radiation by three mechanisms: Reflectance, Transmittance and Absorptance. These are defined as follows:

  1. Reflectance – the proportion of solar radiation reflected back into the atmosphere.
  2. Direct transmittance – the proportion of solar radiation transmitted directly through the glass.
  3. Absorptance – the proportion of solar radiation absorbed by the glass. 

Glass Balustrades

Glass Balustrades

Glass can be used within balustrades either on its own for a frameless glass support or within a supporting framework to allow light to transfer between level changes.

Normally a frameless glass balustrade is constructed from toughened, laminated glass (two panels of toughened or tempered glass laminated together), which, if the balustrade is broken for any reason, the glass pieces will shatter like pebbles, falling into spaces below.

Toughened laminated glass can be curved and laminated together to form a safety glass. Curved glass panels can be brought together with thermal spacer bars to create double or triple glazed units for curved insulated glass units to be used externally. 

Curved glazing can also be coated with all the standard performance coatings such as solar control and low-emissivity coatings as well as more decorative glass finishes like anti-reflective coatings and semi-reflective finishes.

For a stronger, safer, frameless glass balustrade, you should use a SentryGlas®Plus interlayer (2 ply) increases the life longevity of the glass installation as they are much stronger. Butacite® polyvinyl butyral interlayer (PVB) has been continuously improved over SentryGlas®Plus interlayer (SGP) for laminated safety glazing.

Curved toughened glass is manufactured through a process of heating, curving and rapidly cooling the glass panels to create tensions within the glass panels that increase its strength, its resistance to mechanical forces such as wind and also its resistance to thermal stresses. 

Types of Glass Used for Glass Balustrades

Low Iron Tempered Glass

Low iron glass is made up of silicon dioxide often referred to as silica. It is actually an oxide form of carbon and it consists of a very low quantity of iron content in it. This low content of iron (ferric oxide) which is as minimum as 0.01 % of the overall constituents, is sufficient to wipe away the greenish nature. 

Low Iron Glass is manufactured using carefully selected raw materials in order to reduce the iron oxide content of the resulting glass. The panel is clearer, more natural and with a higher light transmission than standard float glass.

Neutral clear float glass is not completely neutral. All standard float glass units have a natural green tint to them due to the iron content in their manufacture.

Low Iron Glass is the option where a much clearer glass finish is needed and the lack of colour to the glass panel itself allows a more accurate reproduction of white and pastel colours onto the surface of glazing.

Due to Low Iron Glass’ ability to be toughened, laminated and coated as normal float glass, its applications are endless and can be manufactured as a ‘safety glass’ and into insulated units. It can be used on structural elements like balustrades where the edges of the glass panels will be seen. Using low iron glass reduces the dark shadow around the external edge.

In thicker instances, the green tint in normal glass is more noticeable on these structural elements of glazing, such as a glass beam or fin, will reduce that green colour to the thick glass panel and create a much clearer and cleaner installation. 

It can be used within balustrades either on its own for a frameless glass support or within a supporting framework to allow light to transfer between level changes. 

Toughened laminated glass can be cut and curved to create different shapes and movements for the glass balustrade. DuPontSentryGlas® ionoplast layer within a glass unit creates a stronger, more durable glass panel and it’s five times stronger and up to 100 times stiffer. 

The advanced polymer is less likely to yellow over time or absorb water than its less advanced predecessor, the PVB. This, along with their greater capacity for load bearing, means that Sentry Laminates are excellently suited for use within frameless external balustrades.

Bear Glass (Brooklyn, New York)  provides clear glass railing, STARPHIRE® glass railing, and tinted glass railing. They stock acid etched glass, colored glass, pattern glass, bent glass etc. for custom glass railings. We provide high quality tempered glass for the glass railing.

Available edgeworks: Bevel Edge, Bevel Both Sides Edge, Double Bevel Edge, Miter Edge, Chamfer Edge, Flat Polish/ Ground, Pencil Polish/ Ground, Ogee Edge, Ogee Bevel Edge, WaterFall Edge, Clean Cut, Seamed Edge.

Glass Stairs

glass stairs

The glass balustrades allow light to penetrate through and illuminate the floor. Glass stairs can be designed and constructed in many ways from glass treads being set into a steel frame to completely frameless cantilevered steps that seem to protrude unsupported from the wall. A glass staircase is the pinnacle of contemporary glass design. 

Layering toughened glass panels together and laminating them to create strong stair treads is the usual method of glass construction and a viable glass specification to use on such areas.

Glass steps are essentially small glass floors with the exception that they are often supported with fewer sides. It’s important to ensure that strong, toughened glass is used and laminated together in layers to create extra strength to these slim, walk on glass panels.

It might be pertinent to include an anti-slip resistance to the external face of the stair treads, especially if the glass staircase is to be situated outside. 

You can sandblast a piece of toughened glass as the top layer of glass or by including an anti-slip screen print pattern to the top of glass tread. Coloured or digitally printed interlayers can be included within the layered glass tread for a decorative effect.

If using a coloured interlayer design for your staircase integrated LED lighting within the construction can create a dramatic effect. 

For a fully clear glass staircase you should consider the use of low iron glass. Laminated glass stair treads will be thick panels of glass standard clear glass might leave you with a green tint to the glass panels. Low-iron acid etched glass, low-iron back painted glass, etc. are affordable and if you need more clarity, low iron glass is a perfect choice in OptiWhite™and Starphire® Ultra Clear Glass.

The safest and easiest to climb staircases have a landing followed by L-shaped or U-shaped stairs. For stairs that aren’t as tall, some opt to have no landing. Circular staircases look magnificent but can be cumbersome to climb for some.

Because the staircase will be a big part of your life and you will no doubt climb it on a daily basis consider the safety and comfort of your family.

If you need just a few pieces of tempered glass or even just one piece for your home or business, Associated Glass can help. Whether you need a standard size or a unique custom piece, we can do this.

Alternately, if you’re a builder that needs a great quantity of tempered glass for a development or a business owner that needs high volume tempered glass for multiple locations, we can meet your needs.

Now matter how much or little tempered glass you need, for a new installation, a repair or an upgrade, the experts at Associated Glass can custom craft the solution you need.

Associated Glass has been providing high quality commercial and residential glass solutions for Seattle and the greater Puget Sound area since 1959.

We offer the best quality, price and design specifications and professional, certified installation services. Call or come see us in Snohomish or Lynnwood today. You can reach is in Snohomish at (360) 568-0525 or in Lynnwood at (425) 778-2174.