Does Glass Balustrade Need A Handrail?

November 15, 2021

What Is Glass Balustrade?

A glass balustrade is a structure that acts primarily as a safety barrier between two or more different zones. It is designed to stop anyone from falling off the edge of a staircase or balcony. Glass pool balustrades have been used for decades and come in different shapes and materials. The most popular balustrades are made of glass and can either be fully framed, semi-frameless or fully frameless.


What Are Glass Balustrades Made From?

Many different types of glass can be used to make glass balustrades. This includes tempered glass, safety glass, annealed glass, heat-strengthened and structural glass. Not only is it important for glass balustrades to be aesthetically appealing but the material must meet Australian standards.


The glass can come in textured, solid, curved or opaque designs and in a variety of styles that are suitable for all types of interior and exterior designs. The glass can be either clear, semi-transparent, etched, frosted or tinted to the colour of your choice. The most common glass type used is thick tempered glass. It is designed to be resistant to breakage upon impact as the minimum thickness is 10mm for infill panels and 15mm for frameless panels.


Glass Balustrade Australian Standards

Prior to the 2006 update to the Australian Standards, the use of glass balustrades was considered a high risk as the load was not monitored and regulated. When you are considering installing a glass balustrade, you need to ensure it complies with the Building Code of Australia (BCA) Parts 3.9.1 and 3.9.2, Volume 2 and Australian Standard 1170.1. 


Balustrades must keep at least 1m of separation between their highest point and the adjoining floor to avoid serious injuries. The openings between them must also be restricted to 125mm or less to avoid children falling between the railing’s spaces or getting their heads stuck between them. The selected material should also be able to withstand a load impact (AS 1170.1.). This is a safety measure that would prevent its collapse when pressure is applied from any direction. If a glass balustrade is installed in a raised area that is more than 4m above the ground, it should not include any climbable elements (e.g. horizontal rails).


Glass Balustrade Handrail Regulations

Railings are required under Building Codes laws. For structures over 1m from the floor level, a handrail must be fitted. This will act as a supporting barrier if the glass breaks and will prevent people from falling or walking through. Toughened laminated safety glass may however be installed without a handrail. Retrofitting handrails are also an alternative to be considered and can fit it in well with different designs. 


When looking for a glass balustrading installer, make sure you ask whether the structure they will provide will comply with Building Code Australia and Australia Standards. Otherwise, it may be considered unusable. If you are looking to install glass balustrades in Sydney, contact our team at Sydney Frameless Glass today.



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