Glass Staircases – what to look for when choosing your solution

Glass staircases are increasingly being specified into interiors, breathing light into enclosed hallways and interior spaces. Clients and home owners often push the boundaries in aesthetic design, to the detriment of functionality and compliance with regulations.

How do you design a beautiful glass staircase that appeases clients’ requirements yet conforms with regulations, and what do you need to consider?

It is a question we get asked a lot at Balustrade Components UK. There are three main factors to consider – the design of the staircase, type of project, and ensuring compliance to regulations.

We work closely with Architects, Staircase Installers, Developers and Contractors, helping their glass staircase projects look aesthetically stunning while ensuring they comply and exceed UK Building Regulations.

 

Glass Staircases

 

Glass staircase designs

There are two main options for glass staircase designs – frameless balustrade systems or using a post system.

A frameless system often has great aesthetic appeal, as it is possible to create contemporary designs giving traditional interiors a modern twist. As the glazing panels are held into place with the channel, it maximises the glazing area of the staircase structure.

Another fixing method for the glass against the main structure is standoff point fixings. These are small components that are often used to complement other internal features e.g. door handles. Available in screw fix or resin fix options, Balustrade Components offers a range of Grade 304 or Grade 316 stainless steel standoffs, for glass thickness of between 8 and 15mm, in bright or satin polished finishes, with varying standoff distances between 10 and 50mm.

Balustrade Components UK also offers frameless options using base shoe fixing, and is the sole UK distributor of the AMG Frameless Glass Balustrade System. This system provides aesthetically stunning frameless glass staircase railings that have a high level of functionality and safety, conforming to the latest building regulations.

 

Frameless Glass Staircases

 

Using a frameless system means the glass is the major factor concerning performance and functionality, so the correct choice of glass is very important. Factors like thermal insulation, load bearings, acoustic properties and fire rating all affect its compliance with regulations.

Incorporating a post system into glass staircases is also another option. Material selection is key here and popular options include using stainless steel or wooden posts and handrails. These staircase structures rely more on architectural metal products such as glass clamps, brackets, fasteners, standoff fixings and other accessories.

Balustrade Components UK always advises to incorporate architectural metal fixings into early design concepts, ensuring each fixture is in the correct location offering maximum structural performance. Our experienced team works closely with you to get the optimum balance of practicality/functionality and aesthetics, ensuring your glass staircase complies with UK Building Regulations and exceeds your client’s expectations.

Project type

Whether you are working on a new build, retrofit or refurbishment glass staircase project, ensuring compliance and achieving the right look is a complicated process.

First and foremost, integrating glass staircase designs into early design concepts is important for any project type. New build projects sometimes have greater control over the structural plans, and as a result gives a little more flexibility over the design of the glass staircase.

 

Modern Glass Staircases

 

Retrofit or refurbishment projects often require a little more detailing in ensuring compliance, and it means you are designing a staircase to fit within an existing structure. With this in mind, the choice of components and materials is crucial.

Balustrade Components UK produce a wide range of glass balustrade components in our manufacturing facilities based in Cannock, Staffordshire. We are the only UK-based manufacturer to produce balustrade fixings for thick glass, where we are able to produce custom handrail brackets, stand offs, glass brackets and other fixings specifically for glass thicknesses above 25mm.

Our glass balustrade fixings use the finest 304 and 316 stainless steel which means they are an excellent material for high quality glass staircases, ensuring quality stems from concept to completion. This reduces any potential problems faced by the installer on-site, and produces a stunning end-result for the client.

Compliance with Building Regulations

As glazing panels are often in critical locations within staircases, they have to ensure they are designed and constructed so the risk of breakage and failure is low. Approved Document K sets out criteria and regulations for protection to people against impact, falling and collision with the glass staircase structures.

British Standards 6180:2011 gives guidance and recommendations for the construction of barriers in and around buildings, including factors such as the material selection for the barriers; the various loadings that barriers are meant to withstand; and the application or use of the barriers and how this affects the design.

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