Glass Railings

What to Expect From Hillcrest Glass

Hillcrest will work with you, your contractor and your engineer to come up with an eye-catching design that meets both building code and your budget.  We’ve been here serving as your glass experts for over 50 years and we have installed rails in all different shapes and sizes in homes, offices, hotels and restaurants.

Types of Glass Railings We Install

Glass Railings on decks, balconies and stairs and wind screens provide the ultimate design for creating a modern look without obstructing views or light transmission.

  • Interior and Exterior
  • Glass infill for steel or wood railings
  • Base shoe systems 
  • Stand-off attachment
  • Complete systems with steel towers
  • High quality hardware options
  • Tempered laminated glass
  • Glass sneeze guards too!

How to Plan For a Railing Installation

Railings require a good deal of planning.  There are 4 basic types of railings, post mounted with top rail (glass infill), shoe-mounted, post mounted and stand-off mounted.

The first question we need to ask is, “Is this railing a safety rail?”.

If the rail is guarding a drop-off of 30” or more, the answer is yes.  This has implications for the railing design.  A safety rail must meet the building code.  In order to meet code, the railing generally requires and top rail or cap.  In the case of a post system, the top rail becomes the necessary structure to meet code, and the glass becomes infill, basically in lieu of balusters.  We can use standard tempered glass, usually 3/8” to 1/2”, mounted to the posts with glass clamps or standoffs.

In the case of a shoe-mounted (metal tracks mounted on the floor) system, it gets a little more complicated. 

If you design your system with a top cap or a rail, standard tempered glass works fine.  Railing component manufacturers such as CR Laurence or Q-railing offer engineering reports that have tested this configuration and shown that it meets code. This is also true of stand-off mounted systems. Top caps and rails come in various shapes and profiles, some of the slim-line top cap options are barely noticeable.  Additionally, a top cap protects the edge of the glass.

If you are trying to avoid a top cap or rail, it becomes a bit trickier. 

The one thing for certain is that you need to use tempered laminated glass anywhere from 9/16” to 13/16”.  Manufacturers do not offer a lot of test data to support this configuration.  Instead, it is up to your structural engineer (hopefully you have one of those who is familiar with glass) to determine what is acceptable to meet code.  Some vendors offer structural calculations with their systems.  While this is very helpful, it is still up to your structural engineer to determine if the system meets code.

Another concern in rail design is the attachment of the posts, shoe or standoffs to the structural substrate. 

You are usually safe if you through-bolt through wood or steel or attach with a threaded bolt into steel (drill and tap).  Side mounting with lag bolts also works well.  If you vary from these methods, it is a good idea to ask your engineer for their advice.

About Hillcrest Glass

Hillcrest Glass is a full-service glass shop located in Longmont, Colorado.  We have been providing glass in Longmont, Boulder, and nearby communities on the Northern Front Range of Colorado since 1969. We’ve been locally owned since the beginning.

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