Are Glass Staircases Safe?

March 4, 2022

A glass staircase creates a bright and spacious feel due to its ability to allow light to pass freely without obstruction by wooden or metal bars. A glass staircase can consist of either glass balustrades (vertical sections of a staircase that support the handrail), glass treads (the horizontal pieces that form the stairs) or a combination of both.


What Are Glass Balustrades?

Stair glass balustrades are vertical panels of glass that support the handrail of the staircase. They create a minimalist look that can be used to showcase the stairs and create the effect of a floating staircase. The Australian Standards require glass balustrades to be constructed with toughened glass that has a minimum thickness of 10mm. As toughened safety glass cannot be drilled into place, glass balustrades are usually installed into your stairway structure using balustrade posts and glass clamps. This can help you achieve the ‘frameless’ look or alternatively you can use framed glass panels. Though there are a number of ways to install glass balustrades including inserting the panels into the timber frame with concealed fixings or side mounting the panels onto the treads using steel fittings.


What Are Glass Treads?

Glass treads are the horizontal pieces where you place your feet on the staircase. They are often installed along with glass balustrades to create a minimalist all-glass look. Australian Standards require tt glass treads to have a minimum depth thickness of 185mm or more. The installation of your glass treads will depend on your staircase design. They can be either installed with embedded fixturing, spider brackets, point fixturing or mounting brackets. Similarly to glass balustrades, glass treads cannot be drilled into place.


What Are Glass Stairs Made From?

The glass used for glass balustrades or glass treads can be either tempered or laminated safety glass. While each type of glass has slightly different properties, they are both extremely safe to use in stairways. In fact, they are significantly stronger and safer than other common staircase materials.

Tempered Glass

Tempered glass (also known as toughened glass) is made by heating glass with a tempering furnace before rapidly cooling it down. This process causes the glass to become 4 to 5 times stronger than normal glass and can withstand extreme temperature fluctuations.


Laminated Glass

Laminated glass balustrades and treads are made by using high temperature and pressure to join 2 pieces of tempered glass with an interlayer in between. This offers the durability of tempered glass and the extra benefits offered by the lamination process. A key benefit of laminated glass is that if it is broken, the glass will not shatter into multiple pieces. Instead, it will break into a spiderweb pattern while being held in place by the interlayer. The interlayer allows for a wide variety of colour tints, making laminated glass more versatile than plain tempered glass.


How Safe Is Glass Stairs?

Glass balustrades and treads are extremely strong and shatterproof. They are much more resistant to damage than other staircase materials such as wood (which can rot) or metal (which can corrode). They are also very easy to clean and maintain.


Glass treads can hold more weight than many traditional stair treads and be enhanced with customised non-slip safety features such as rubber grip strips and metal, wood, frosted or etched glass design. While it’s simple to create a glass staircase that meets Australian Standards, there are also plenty of additional safety features you can add to your staircase for peace of mind. Depending on your needs (e.g. child-friendly features), this can increase the cost of installation.


Glass staircases using either glass balustrades, glass treads or a combination of both are a great way to create a striking feature in your home. They can also withstand significantly more force and are not prone to damage over time. If you’re considering installing a glass staircase in your Sydmey home, contact Sydney Frameless Glass today.

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