components and features of structural glass balustrades

The Nitty-Grittys of a Structural Glass Balustrade

If you are considering getting glass fencing installed on your property, and have conducted some online research, you will find the term “structural glass” mentioned a lot. Many people wonder what this means and whether these systems are any different from the standard glass installations that are seen on residential and commercial properties. Here we take a closer look at what these features are and what is involved in their installation.

The components and features of structural glass balustrades

Frameless section

In frameless glass balustrades, the panels of glass don’t become just an infill panel. They are actually used as part of the balustrade structure. This is why the terms structural glass and frameless glass balustrades are used interchangeably and they mean one and the same thing. Some providers also refer to these as cantilevered glass systems. The feature is fairly simple in terms of the idea that used in its structure; it’s based on 2 main engineering principles:

  • Strong glass panels that have the structural integrity to bear the loads and bending movements that are imposed on it in any setting
  • It has a sturdy base that has clamps which hold the glass panels in place

Handrails and top-capping

If you get a frameless glass/structural glass balustrade installed on your property, the structure needs to have handrails, in accordance with the Australian Standard AS1288-2006. The handrail is the top section of the balustrade placed on the panels. It provides support to the structure, holds the panels together and adds to the strength and durability of the feature. The handrail you choose should be aesthetically appealing too and your glass balustrade installer will provide design options for you to choose from.


The glass panels used in this installation aren’t made of standard glass such as one that’s used in doors or windows on a property. The glass we use in structural balustrade systems is 15mm-18mm laminated and toughened glass that goes through a specialised tempering process. This adds to its resilience and makes it resistant to breakage in comparison to regular annealed glass.

It’s mandatory to use glass of 15mm thickness even in residential applications. In commercial applications such as in malls, restaurants, bars, pubs and discotheques etc., thicker glass panels (18mm- 25mm) would have to be installed. In case the panels suffer a heavy impact and break, they don’t shatter into pointed shards like the latter. Instead, it breaks up into squarish pieces with round edges, which makes it a much safer installation in any setting.

The base of the structural glass balustrade

This part is called the “shoe profile”. It’s the most vital part of the entire feature and has to be designed and installed with care. It has a strong “U” channel that’s made of custom-designed aluminium extrusions. The toughened glass panels are positioned in this U-channel and fitted with epoxy or a cement-type material.

Semi-frameless section

Some operators forgo the epoxy altogether and use shoe profiles that have hammered-in wedges or pressure-screwed clamps. This process is less labour-intensive and cleaner than the epoxy method. These base profiles could be affixed to the balcony structure using concrete, steel or some other material.

The fixtures and base profiles of frameless glass balustrades have to be custom-designed for each site; this helps ensure that they will be able withstand the extreme loads that would be transferred from the glass panels.

For any more information, just contact us at Quantum Frameless Glass at this number – 1300 282 248. You can also contact us using this online form and we will call you back shortly for more details about your semi-frameless glass balustrade or fencing installation project.

Thanks for reading,
Quantum Frameless Glass Team
1300 282 248

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