A Comprehensive Review of Tempered Glass Railing Systems & Why you Should Buy One
Are you on the market for a new way to make your deck a safe and beautiful space? Then tempered glass railing should be your first choice. They are an excellent choice for nature lovers, adding an elegant and refined vibe to any deck or patio.
In case the name hasn’t tipped you off yet, tempered glass railings use clear panels. This ensures that you can sit back and enjoy the outdoors with no distractions. Many people call them “invisible railings” because they do not block or break up the beautiful views from your deck. Instead, they act like an invisible picture frame to showcase the stunning scenery.
They are also an excellent option for any deck owner that wants to protect small children and pets. Traditional glass railing panels are installed with minimal spaces between them. This means that small hands, heads, and feet are less likely to be stuck between them.
Tempered glass railings have a lot of advantages and benefits. But are there any disadvantages? How do they work? Are they easy to install? And – most importantly – are they affordable? Here is everything you need to know to help you decide if tempered glass railing is the best option for your deck.
Tempered Glass Railing Systems: What They Are and How They Work
Tempered glass railing systems are made out of a number of glass panels that have been hardened using heat. Basically, the process involves heating and cooling a piece of ordinary pre-cut glass in a tempering furnace. The glass is heated up to around 1200F before it is then cooled rapidly in a process that is known as quenching.
This whole process will leave you with a glass panel that is at least four to five times stronger than normal glass. Tempering also makes glass more resistant to breaking and shattering. If it does break, then tempered glass will shatter into small pieces instead of large, jagged chunks. This ensures that the chances of injury from broken tempered glass are much lower.
If you are thinking of installing glass railing, ensure that you are using panels that have been safety tempered and shatter resistant. It also has to be properly edged and polished to protect people from being cut.
It is also a good idea to check in with your local construction authority to figure out if there are any restrictions relating to tempered glass railings. For example, deck builders may be required to use tinted glass that matches the windows in the house. This prevents birds from flying into glass panels accidentally. So, review any local bylaws to ensure that your new deck is up to code!
Tempered Glass Railing Thickness
The regulations that guide tempered glass railing thickness may vary from one local area to another. In spite of that, there are industry standards and best practices that exist for this. These can give you an idea of what to expect as you start the hunt for the perfect tempered glass railings.
Industry Standards and Best Practice
The International Building Code (IBC) gives very helpful and in-depth guidance on the required tempered glass railing thickness. According to IBC, any tempered glass panel that will be used in a railing system should have a minimum thickness of six millimeters (or ¼ inches). The code also advises that any tempered glass railing system should be able to resist load requirements.
When you are installing a tempered glass railing, you will generally have to build the frame first. This approach will allow you to take exact measurements and custom order your tempered glass panels.
Since glass can be quite heavy, it is recommended that you place your rail posts no more than five feet apart. You can also create a ½ inch deep and 3/8 inch thick channel in the posts to hold the tempered glass.
If your railing is quite long, it will need extra support during installation. In that case, it is a good idea to use a brace or blocking underneath to provide this.
Tempered Glass Railing Specification
This can vary depending on the tempered glass railing system that you have chosen to use. But, we can take the popular systems at Invisirail as an example. With Invisirail, you can expect glass panels set into stainless steel post rails. Each set comes with standard additional hardware that you will need, including spacers, clamps, and post skirts.
A typical tempered glass railing specification brief will include the following details:
Tempered Glass Railing Systems: Pros and Cons
Pros of Tempered Glass Railings
- It will not corrode
Tempered glass railing panels and their accompanying aluminum rail posts do not corrode, even when exposed to water for a long time. Using these systems ensures that you have an unobstructed view of the surrounding scenery without having to worry about harsh weather or the water from your pool.
- The glass panel tolerates extreme temperatures well
Unlike hardwood railing systems, tempered glass is not prone to surface cracking under extreme temperatures. Tempered glass is made in such a way as to ensure that it will not shatter, even when cracked. These qualities make the railing systems strong, sturdy, and durable. It also assures the safety of you and your family.
- Requires low maintenance
Traditional hardwood railing systems require a lot of maintenance and care on a regular basis. They have to be treated, stained, finished, or even painted from time to time to preserve their beauty and durability. But that is not the case for tempered glass railing systems. All you need is soap, water, and a squeegee to clean it regularly.
Furthermore, decks are exposed to the elements continuously. With hardwood railings, weathering is unavoidable and inevitable. On the other hand, this is not a concern with tempered glass railings.
- They are easy to customize
A huge concern with tempered glass panels is the lack of privacy. However, this is pretty easy to resolve. All you have to do is choose to have the exterior panels frosted for added privacy. Alternatively, you could simply go with the clear tempered glass railing panels if you prefer. The huge range of design choices available shows just how customizable these systems are.
- They are easy to assemble
Whether you are dealing with a new installation or a deck upgrade, tempered glass railing systems are very easy to install.
Cons of Tempered Glass Railings
Tempered glass railing systems give the traditional deck a much-needed modern flair. Despite that, there may be a couple of factors that may discourage you from installing it in your home:
- They are expensive
The undeniable truth is that tempered glass railing systems are very expensive. In fact, they may just be one of the most costly deck railing options out there today. Estimates show that a single five-foot, 3/8 inch glass panel can cost up to $240.
That said, you have to weigh the benefits against the cost of this type of railing. You may decide that the sturdiness, durability, and safety of tempered glass makes this option worth it.
- Lack of privacy
Tempered glass will provide you with an unobstructed view of your surrounding natural environment. However, they will also allow people to see into your private space. But this can be solved easily with a perimeter wall around your property. If this is not an option, you could always choose to install frosted tempered glass. This will give you an extra layer of privacy.
- Needs regular cleaning
If you want to keep your tempered glass railing panels free of fingerprints, smudges, and other blemishes, you will have to clean it regularly. While it is not nearly the same level of upkeep that hardwood railing systems need, you will still need to keep this in mind.
Tempered Glass Railing Cost
It is important to note that installing tempered glass railing systems can be quite costly. This is because, wherever you are in the world, glass is a pretty pricey commodity that experiences price fluctuations regularly.
That said, the standard tempered glass railing panels price is $40 for every linear foot. For example, each Invisirail panel ranges in price from about $55 to $280.
For the entire system, the tempered glass railing cost can range from between $600 to $1,000 per linear foot. The cost of installation per linear foot could be anywhere from $200 per linear foot.
Do you have a view that begs to be appreciated and shown off? Then the tempered glass railing system is the best option for you. Not only does it class up your deck, it also gives you an added element of safety and security that is hard to beat. The tempered glass railing system may have a few negligible limitations, but its benefits far outweigh them.