structural glass balustrades

What are Structural Glass Balustrades?

When it comes to glass balustrading, there are a number of designs and styling to choose from; and structural glass balustrades are one of them. Many people wonder why these are called structural glass installations. There is a very simple explanation for this. It’s because the glass doesn’t just act as a panel that fills in the gap in the metal framing, it is actually part of the structure. This is when they are called structural glass balustrades.

Some Structural Glass Balustrade Facts

  • At times it may be referred to as cantilevered or frameless glass balustrade too. While the term sounds a little complex, the basic idea behind glass balustrades is very simple. It’s based on 2 engineering principles – This balustrade has a very strong base which can clamp sturdy and thick glass panels. These panels have the resilience to resist the loads and bending movements that are imposed on it.
  • While it’s a good idea to choose structural glass balustrades and they don’t really have an all-round metal framing, there are certain BCA norms that have to be adhered to while building these balustrades.
  • You have the option to do away with the handrail. Typically, handrails are affixed to the upper edge of the glass and the adjacent poles – they hold the panels together at the top and add to the strength of the structure. It’s also very important that the rest of the structure be able to bear the necessary load in case any damage occurs to any one of the glass panels.
  • If you choose not to have handrails, then laminated glass would have to be used. This finish provides added strength to the glass and prevents it from shattering in case there is an impact to it. While the glass may crack if the impact is too severe, the glass won’t shatter and fall to the ground as it will be sandwiched between the lamination sheets.

The Structure Matters

In the case of a semi-frameless balustrade, the base of the structure (which is also called the ‘shoe profile’ in certain systems), is the most crucial part, and it has to be designed with attention to detail. The main idea is that there has to be a very strong and sturdy ‘U’ channel that is structured using designed extrusions made of aluminium or 2 back-to-back RSAs. The glass is then fitted into position with an epoxy or a cement-type of material.

Of course, there have been significant advancements in balustrading materials and you can now also have base profiles which use hammered-in wedges or pressure-screwed clamps. These are used in place of the epoxy or cement glue; the clamp installation is far less labour-intensive than the latter. The glass doesn’t have to be set in the glue and it also eliminates the need to pour the glue into the restricted space in the channel.

Custom-Designed Features

The base profiles & the fixtures are all custom-designed for each site and the operator has to ensure that these are able to withstand the massive loads that are bound to get transferred from these glass panels. Most balustrade systems have 10mm tempered glass panels in the structure.

However structural glass balustrade glass panels have to be far stronger and even in residential applications the glass panels will have to be at least 15mm in thickness. In commercial spaces, these glass panels could even be 19mm to 25 mm in thickness.

It’s important that you get an experienced and credible glass balustrade company to handle the job for you. For any more information about how to measure out balustrades, and our products, call 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.

Thanks for reading,
Quantum Frameless Glass Team
1300 282 248

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