A question that we are often asked at Origin Architectural is whether a handrail is required for a balustrade. The answer is that it depends on the system used and the application.
To comply with building regulations, if your balustrade is protecting a fall of 600mm or more then you should either have a handrail and/or a laminate glass. Having a handrail has a number of advantages:
The weak point of any glass balustrade is at the top of the panel of glass. Any small movement at the bottom of the fixing will lead to a far greater movement at the top of the glass. Having a handrail greatly improves the structural integrity of any glass balustrade. We would always recommend a handrail when fixing to brick or timber.
When installing frameless glass, a handrail can make it far easier to align the glass. This is particularly the case on any longer runs of balustrade.
A handrail is added protection in case anybody falls on to the glass. Structural glass can cause substantial damage if you fall on it.
A handrail obviously allows you to lean on the glass really take advantage of your views.
While some of our customers prefer the frameless look we think that a handrail looks great!
An alternative to a handrail is to use glass stiffeners. On frameless systems, they sit at the top of the panels of glass. It is important to have a 10mm gap between each panel of glass to allow the stiffeners to fit. Stiffeners greatly improve the structural integrity of any balustrade while allowing you to maintain the views offered by a frameless balustrade.
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