Specifying Glass Balustrades and the Regulations.
Updated: Jun 8, 2020
Glass balustrades are a popular design feature for the home and for commercial properties. When specifying the use of glass balustrades in any project, there are a number of considerations that should be included in your design to ensure safety and best use of glazing type and fixings.
Important information- For Balustrades without a handrail and protecting a fall. You must use Toughened Laminated Glass for the reasons below: -
1. Toughened glass gives your glass up to five times more strength than standard annealed glass. Toughened glass is designed to break into tiny pieces to reduce injuries should the glass be broken.
2. Laminated glass consists of two pieces of toughened safety glass with an interlayer sandwiched between the two panels. If the glass was to get broken this interlayer retains the glass in place so there is no gap and leaves no sharp shards.
Height Requirement of a glass balustrade.
Regulations state that the minimum height requirement for all glass balustrades should be 0.9m from the point that it is stood on, up to the height of the handrail. Alternatively, if you intend to install a glass balustrade on the exterior of your building, the minimum height to the handrail must be 1.1m high. **If the glass is protecting a change in level (drop) of 600mm or more**
Handrail and Glass Specification. A single toughened glass (normally a minimum of 10mm) can be used only if there is to be a handrail above, that is fitted independently from the glass (not on the glass). This is classed as an “infill panel” but they recommend that the maximum “span” (overall width) is best to not exceed 2100mm for 10mm toughened and 2400mm for 12mm toughened. The need for the independent handrail is that if the glass is broken and falls away, the handrail will remain intact to stop anyone falling over the edge. Where you are not using a handrail, the recommendation now is that a toughened laminated glass be used (normally a minimum of 17.5mm thick - 2No 8mm toughened glasses laminated together with 1.5mm interlayer). We supply 21.5mm which meets this requirement. This is classified as a “free standing barrier” and would normally be either drilled along the bottom edge and bolted on, or held along the bottom edge only in a suitable UChannel clamping system fitted along the floor. See our kits. The idea of toughened laminated where there is no handrail is that if one leaf of the glass breaks, it adheres to the interlayer and there is still the other leaf of glass left in place to form a “barrier”. **It is the responsibility of the end user to ensure compliance to the current building regulations and if there is any doubt as to the suitability of glass you should consult your building control officer (B.C.O.) or or Pilkingtons technical department, a structural engineer or the makers of their glazing system.**