Through the looking glass

A key trend in external and internal architecture is towards glass balustrades. While the aesthetics are unarguably very appealing, there are a number of considerations for specifiers to be aware of. Simon Boocock, Managing Director of CRL takes a look.

Glass is a trending material for balustrades and balconies, due to its versatility and unrivalled visual appeal. Giving an uninterrupted view from high rise buildings, glass also creates a neat, minimal and uniform look which is a big advantage on building exteriors.

Juliette balconies made from glass are becoming particularly popular, especially for buildings where the interior is compact. A big advantage of a Juliette balcony is that it enables a French window or patio door to be chosen instead of a conventional window, filling the room with light, increasing ventilation and creating a greater sense of space in smaller rooms. The balcony itself provides a safety barrier by means of the balustrades or railings and does not generally require planning permission, which accounts for its rise in popularity to a large extent. In addition, unlike a bolt-on balcony or other types which have a deck, they do not need the foundations of a property to be re-evaluated to accommodate them. This makes them a more widely used solution for refurbishment and renovation projects.

CRL’s Juliette Balcony System features a modern design and sleek, clean lines creating the desired visual effect without being a headache to install. The system offers peace of mind with 316 grade stainless steel for weather resilience and comprises four connectors, plus two cap rails of 3m to 4.2m length, suitable for 12mm to 25.52mm glass. Available in brushed and polished stainless steel finishes, the system has been tested to a width of 2400mm.

While the aesthetic qualities of a glass balcony or balustrade are unarguable, installing them does raise challenges in terms of safety, both for the installer and the end user. Here it is a question of choosing the most appropriate system for the job, and one that makes the task safe and simple both on the initial install and at times when maintenance is required.

Systems that need to be fitted from the outside in will require scaffolding, which adds to the time and expense of a project, and are overall much trickier and even more dangerous to install than systems that can be fitted from an internal position. Traditional wet fit balcony systems need to be held securely in place, usually with cement, to ensure a tight fit, which can be messy too, particularly when fitting the balcony retrospectively on to a building. Often too, the architectural hardware used for installation is heavy and cumbersome, particularly when working at awkward angles and from height and can even compromise the minimal aesthetic of the glass if poorly designed.

Problem solvers

Specifiers need to be mindful that the general Code of Practice for barriers in and around buildings is confirmation to BS6180:2011 and a system that can be fixed back to the stone or brickwork of the building will offer the best solution in terms of security. However, a dry-glazed railing system suitable for frameless glass balustrades such as CRL’s Taper-Loc® system is a hassle-free alternative to the mess and awkwardness of working with cement. This solution simplifies the fitting and maintenance process, enabling installation from the safe side of the balcony or balustrade, which is particularly useful in retrofit projects or when a broken glass panel needs to be changed as it eliminated the need for expensive scaffolding, cuts installation times and provides safety and security for installer and end user.

Juliette balconies are another option and are also growing in popularity on UK buildings. These fall under Part K of the Building Regulations Act 2000, stipulating that gaps in any railings must not be more than 100mm and that the top of the balcony must be at least 1100mm from standing floor level. Ideal for buildings with compact interiors, a glass Juliette balcony enables a French window or patio door to be chosen instead of a conventional window, filling the room with light, increasing ventilation and creating a greater sense of space.

Safety, security and fantastic views

Both Taper-Loc® dry glazed railing systems and Juliette balcony systems tap into the big trend for frameless glass balustrades and balconies. With less architectural hardware providing an improved aesthetic when compared to standard vertical posts, and what hardware is on show being available in a number of on-trend and attractive weather-proof finishes, a minimalistic, high-end look is achievable with no compromise on safety.

For details of the range of balcony systems available from CRL call 01706 863600, email crl(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign), or visit