Glass Railings: Design Considerations, Types

Glass Railings: Design Considerations, Types

Summary

A glass of the right thickness, when used as a railing, can provide transparency and, if properly designed, structural performance, often sought in commercial applications (such as shopping malls), swimming pools, decks, or some home villas.

A glass of the right thickness, when used as a railing, can provide transparency and, if properly designed, structural performance, often sought in commercial applications (such as shopping malls), swimming pools, decks, or some home villas.

The basic requirements of guardrails that glass railings are intended to replace include protection from falls and control of movement.

Preliminary design considerations

The designer/architect must evaluate the need for glass railings and the type of railing to provide, considering possible hazards, the use of the building, and the risks to the building's users.

The following preliminary design specifications should be considered:

1. In buildings used for multiple purposes, railings designed for emergency or extreme conditions, or more than one type of railing should be provided depending on the location.

2. In general, when the adjacent floors are changed (600mm for residences and 380mm for other buildings), railings must be set up to limit the movement of people.

3. The railings used should be designed to minimize the risk of persons falling, rolling, sliding, or slipping through gaps in the railings.

4. In dwellings and other buildings, the gap between children's passages, railings, or fillers should not exceed 100mm.

5. The designer/architect should ensure that all elements of the railing system meet the standards given in the relevant standards applicable to the area.

6. For general safety, finished guardrails should not have sharp edges or protrusions that may cause injury to personnel.

7. Infill panels and railings are designed to provide support and protection to the user. They should be designed to restrain people without additional injury from sharp edges, thin sections, open tubes, protruding details, etc.

8. The design shall be based on a horizontally uniformly distributed load (UDL) applied at a nominal height of 1.1m above the finished ground.

Types of glass railings

Four common types of glass railings are:

1. Full height railing

In full-height balustrades, glass forms part or all of the wall elements; the balustrade should be carefully designed in accordance with the relevant standards applicable in the area.

2. Railings with glass-filled panels

In this type of balustrade, the main frame of the balustrade (upper balustrade and balustrade) shall be designed to withstand the loads applied to the upper balustrade and shall be formed of infill panels using glass. However, it should be noted that the glass does not provide support for the main unit.

This type of glass railing can be subdivided into four types:

1) Glass only supports vertical edges

This type involves the vertical edges of the glass being supported in kickbacks on the sides of each vertical column. Therefore, the top and bottom edges of the glass are exposed. The glass can also be supported by patch fittings fixed to the posts. In all cases, handrails are required. 

2) Glass only supports horizontal edges

This type includes handrails at the top and channels or rails at the bottom of the glass. In this case, the handrail should be designed to carry the railing load and the glass to carry the full load.

3) All four edges support glass

In this type of balustrade, the glass formed in the balustrade infill is supported by all four sides.

4) Glass is fixed by patch/bolt fittings

This railing system requires two rows of bolts to provide a rigid fixation that minimizes panel deflection. The purpose of these fasteners is to transmit the force transmitted to the railing into the support structure.

Since these anchors occupy a limited surface area on the glass and can cause large stresses, rigorous research is required to determine the appropriate glass thickness, anchor spacing, and dimensions.

3. Freestanding glass guardrail

In this type of glass railing, the glass is designed to withstand design loads. Therefore, each pane of glass should be firmly clamped to the structure along its bottom edge, with handrails attached to the top edge of the glass, and there should be no balustrades.

If freestanding railings without handrails are provided, each panel shall be able to withstand the entire appropriate design load.

4. Stand system

These systems are an extension of the bolt-on system, where a bolt is part of a bracket attached to a floor or concrete slab, steel, or wooden structural surface.

The use of these systems should be carefully explored as they induce extremely high strains in the glass in which the stents are located.

The design should balance glass thickness and bracket position to produce an appropriate system. Some systems may be designed to generate test data to justify their use.

The above briefly describes the design considerations and types of glass railings. If you want to know more or want to buy glass railings, please contact us.

Terada Hardware is a professional custom glass railing and hardware manufacturer. Our role goes beyond designers and manufacturers. We treat our customers as part of the team and support them as partners. For non-standard hardware, we listen carefully to customers' requirements and provide some professional advice and technical support. Follow the new designs to make the most suitable hardware for your project.