Choosing the right glass staircase

Gary Dean, managing director of OnLevel, discusses why the popularity of glass staircase balustrades has increased in recent years.

The aesthetic benefits of using a glass balustrade solution are great: light airy interior spaces, and clean lines with minimal disruption on the eye.

But what about the detail? Does the client want the all-glass appeal with the absolute minimum glass hardware on show, a frameless system, or a post system?

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

There are two most common options for glass staircase designs: frameless balustrade systems or a post system.

A popular third option is a ‘point fixed’ fixing method for attaching the glass against the main structure, also referred to as a standoff. These are relatively small discreet fixings that are often used for the all-glass look.

One of the first considerations in detailing a glass balustrade solution is location and the surface or substrate it is to be fixed to. For example, on a hotel balcony with access from one side, a post or point fixed system is going to be more difficult to install than a frameless system that allows installation from just one side – removing the need for cherry picker access at high level.

Frameless glass balustrades provide unrestricted views. Frameless systems use an unimposing aluminium base with a U profile (base shoe or channel) to engage the glass. The glass is then fixed into place with plates or wedges (at approximately 300mm intervals) using a fixing tool to align glass which saves significant time.

OnLevel offers a patented Flex-Fit system for fixing and adjusting glass balustrade panels. With this system it is possible to adjust each individual glass plate up to 40mm towards and away from the perpendicular line.

Post-fixed glass balustrade systems consist of glass panels, typically fixed in each corner by D-shaped or square glass clamps which screw (or weld) onto the posts. Although more glass hardware is on show with a post system, they are still a great option for allowing light to flow into a space. With post balustrade systems the posts and handrail can be designed as a key feature with numerous wooden posts, handrail and finishes available to create impressive looking spaces.

When it comes to glass clamps, OnLevel has created Kronos, the world’s first fully adjustable glass clamp.

Kronos is a new glass clamp that clamps glass securely, swiftly, via a simple ‘one piece’ connection. This means the clamp can be taken straight out of the box and fixed into place, removing the need to assemble/disassemble a traditional multi-part clamp and tricky rubber gaskets.

The unique design means that just one clamp is required for all applications. Covers protect the whole surface and ensure a sleek smooth professional look from both sides of the clamp.

Choosing the right glass balustrade solution can be a complex task. However, we have a great team with loads of experience, all willing to provide advice on getting your project completed as easily as possible.

We always recommend integrating your glass balustrade staircase designs early into your design concepts, no matter what the project type. Each project is different but early planning is key, with the relevant information we can help and advise you on the right solution and avoid any last-minute problems.