Design Criteria for Glass Balustrades?

Glass balustrades, a favoured design element in both residential and commercial settings, require careful consideration when incorporating them into a project. To ensure the use of glass type and fixings can comply with building regulations.

Height Requirements for Glass Balustrade Regulations

The required height for the glazed balustrade will be dictated by the building's purpose, as outlined in Building Regulations Part K (Diagram 3.1). These specifications are provided in terms of the balustrade's height above the Finished Floor Level (FFL).

Take a private residential building as an example, the height of the glass balustrade will be:

Specified Area


At opening windows (expect roof windows in loft extensions, See Building Regulations Part B1)


Internal Balustrades (stairs, landings, ramps, edges of internal floors etc.)


External Balustrades (balconies, edges of roofs, external stairs etc)


Other buildings categories and locations have different height requirements for glass balustrades.

From Building Regulations Approved Document K 2013 edition

Loads Requirements for Glass Balustrade

The required load-bearing capacity for a glass balustrade will vary based on the building's function and the expected level of traffic it will receive.

Typical minimum horizontal imposed loads for parapets, barriers and balustrades extracted from BS 6180:2011
Type of occupancy for part of the building or structure Examples of specific use Horizontal uniformly distributed line load (kN/m) Uniformly distributed load applied to the infill (kN/m2) A point load applied to part of the infill (kN)
Domestic and residential activities All areas within or serving exclusively one single family dwelling including stairs, landings, etc. but excluding external balconies and edges of roofs. 0.36 0.5 0.25
Offices and work areas not included elsewhere, including storage areas Areas not susceptible to overcrowding in office and institutional buildings, also industrial and storage buildings. 0.74 1.0 0.5
Areas with tables or fixed seating Restaurants and bars. 1.5 1.5 1.5
Areas without obstacles for moving people and not susceptible to overcrowding Stairs, landings, corridors, ramps

External balconies including Juliette balconies and edges of roofs. Footways and pavements within building curtilage adjacent to basement/sunken areas.

0.74 1.0 0.5
Areas susceptible to overcrowding Theatres, cinemas, discotheques, bars, auditoria, shopping malls, assembly areas, studios. 3.0 1.5 1.5
Retail areas All retail areas including public areas of banks/building societies or betting shops. 1.5 1.5 1.5

Information taken from BS 6399 Loading for Buildings. A complete table of the load values can be found in BS 6180:2011.

We cannot be held liable for the compliance of our products to Building Regulations and it remains the responsibility of the customer to ensure all current regulations are met.


Glass Specifications for Glass Balustrades?

The glass thickness that you need will depend on the use of the building and its intended traffic. Generally speaking the glass thickness below are recommended:

  • Stainless Steel Handrail & Post System: 10mm toughened glass
  • Frameless Glass Balustrade System with Handrail (with a fall greater than 600mm): 15mm toughened glass
  • Frameless Glass Balustrade System without Handrail (with a fall greater than 600mm): 17.52mm or 21.52 mm toughened laminated glass (depending on the use and occupancy of the building)

Do I have to use a continuous handrail for my glass balustrade?

Handrail is not always necessary according to BS6180:2011, but it is limited to the glass being toughened and laminated and able to withstand the load.

Section 8.5.2 states: 'where the barrier protects a difference in level greater than 600mm, a handrail should always be used unless a laminated toughened glass construction is used that would remain in situ if a panel fails'.

It is recommended to use a handrail when only toughened glass panel are used for glass balustrade to protect a fall greater than 600mm.

Any other requirements?

In a building that may be used by children under five years of age during normal use, guarding should be constructed in accordance with both of the following:

  • To prevent children being held fast by the guarding: ensure that a 100mm sphere cannot pass through any openings in the guarding.
  • To prevent children from readily being able to climb the guarding: avoid horizontal rails.
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