Shopping Cart Request Brochure Contact Us

Updated on: 12/11/14

Railing and Balustrades Requirements


Glass Balustrade
  |  Juliet Balcony  |  Curved Patio Doors  |  Balcony Systems Articles Main Page

Types, usages, regulations and legal requirements for railings and glass balustrades: 

bullet What materials are allowed to be used?

bullet What height are balustrades required to made to?

bullet Loadings that balustrades meant to withstand. Application, tests and calculation.

bullet What categories are there for different railing or balustrade usages or areas?

ASK US ABOUT GLASS BALUSTRADES               GET AN ONLINE QUOTE FOR GLASS BALUSTRADE

British Standards

The information below is taken from two British standards; BS6180:2011 "Barriers in and about buildings - Code of practice" which relates to the code of practice for balustrades in buildings and BS6399-1:1996 "Loadings for buildings - Part1: Code of practice for dead and imposed loads" which specifies the information on loadings. In this article we try and simplify into layman's terms some of the information and principles contained in these standards. Most of the building regulation documents relating to balustrades, railings and balconies is based on these standards.

Glass Balustrade

What materials are allowed?

There is no limitation per se which material can be used as the balustrade structure, obviously the material chosen must be:

bullet Rigid and strong, be able to resist and not bend, buckle or break under pressure.

bullet Durable and suitable to the area they are to be applied to. Plastics are not usually used for balustrade structures, but rather metallic elements such as steel, stainless steel or aluminium. Wood is and has been a popular material but maintenance becomes an element to take into consideration.

Sometimes the balustrade structure includes, and is, the barrier, such as in the case of bars or perforated metal panels, and in many cases in the modern build use is made of glass as infill panels and in the case of structural glass, actually is the barrier.

Safety Glass

When using glass you are obliged to use what is designated as safety glass, this can be either toughened (aka tempered) or laminated

Toughened glass

Toughened or tempering is a process that the glass is subjected to consisting of heating the glass to around 700 degrees Celsius and quenching (cooling quickly). The quenching process, which takes about 1 minute, creates a strong layer on both sides of the glass while locking tension insides the core of the glass, making it approximately four times stronger to impact than regular float glass.

Why is this called “safety glass” you may ask. Well in answer to that we can explain that toughened glass, if broken, will not break into large pieces with big shards but rather it will "break safely" and shatter into hundreds or thousands of small, and therefore, not so dangerous little bits.)

Laminated glass

Laminated glass is made from at least two glass panels with an interlayer. The interlayer is usually made of plastic or is resin based. Laminated glasses can be made from two float panels, two toughened panels or a combination thereof. When tested for conformity laminated safety glass is allowed to break under impact but must not allow the impacting body to penetrate the panel.

In the United Kingdom it is toughened glass that is predominantly used. Laminated and toughened glass use is growing in particularly on high rise buildings. Whereas in Europe single pane toughened glass is not allowed. Only laminated glass is allowed. 

Thickness and type of glass to be used is varied and greatly depends on the area it must protect, impact class required (there are several classes for impact of safety glass) and size of each single pane used, more on this in the section relating to loadings.

SUBSCRIBE TO BALCONY VEIWS MAGAZINE

What heights are required for balustrades?

For internal railings or balustrades that are inside a single family dwelling the height required is 0.9m from "datum" (“datum” is defined as the height or point you can stand on) to the top of the handrail. For external balcony or terrace areas the required height is 1.1m from datum to the top of handrail.

Handrail height for stairs, internal or external and all usages is 0.9m from "datum"

 

What loadings and forces are railings/balustrades meant to withstand and how are these applied, tested or calculated?

Impact testing on the glass and balustrade

Impact testing on the glass and balustrade

Load types:

The loads are expressed in kN/m (kilo Newton metre) in simple terms this is a quantity very similar to 100Kg (220lb) of pressure per metre length. If for example it is stated that there is 1.0kN/m it will be approximately the equivalent of one person weighing 100kg putting their full weight on one metre length.

There are three basic loads that are required to be met; (a) Horizontal loading on the handrail, (b) vertical loading on the handrail and (c) loading on the infill. The horizontal loading on the handrail is called a "uniformly distributed line load" or UDL (basically meaning that the load needs to be calculated in a fashion that allows for even distribution of the pressure along the complete length of the element, as opposed to the sum of the load applied to one point). The vertical load on the handrail is composed of both a UDL vertical load and a point load. The load on the infill, be it glass, metal or other, is tested and calculated in two separate ways; a distributed load and a "point load". This means the infill of the railing, balustrade or barrier must be able to withstand an evenly distributed pressure as well as a concentrated pressure on a small point.

The loads are tested or calculated whereby the maximum deflection under pressure must not exceed 25mm.

Areas of building usage

You can divide regulations into these basic areas:

Domestic & residential

Single family home: internal stairs/landings etc in which case the handrail pressure must be able to take 0.36kN/m. For external balconies and in light office areas non susceptible to overcrowding this is doubled to 0.74 kN/m. This can be compared to having one averagely weighing person 75kg applying the full force of their body on every metre of the balcony.

Public areas

Such as retail areas, bars and restaurants- the handrail pressure must be able to take 1.5 kN/m. This is doubled to a dramatic 3.0 kN/m in areas such as malls, discotheques and areas susceptible to overcrowding.

Glass and Infill Panels Loads

In relation to the loads that apply in these areas on the glass or infill panels we will show here the severe of the two loads which is the concentrated point load:

Domestic & residential

Single family home: internal stairs/landings etc Point load: 0.25kN/m. For external balconies and in light office areas non susceptible to overcrowding 0.5kN/m.

Public areas

On all public areas such as retail areas, malls, discotheques, areas susceptible to overcrowding, bars and restaurants the point load must be able to take 1.5kN/m.

When dealing with glass barrier one more element must be taken into account and that is impact resistance of the glass. A minimum of 10mm glass should be employed in balcony areas that are wider than 1.5m.

 

Uniformly distributed load on the handrail

 

Uniformly distributed load on the handrail 


Deflection Balustrade under load

Deflection Balustrade under load



Glass balconies in london

 

Glass Balconies in London

 

 

Stainless Steel Balustrades

 

Residential Loading Requirements on Balconies 

Glass Balustrade

Juliet Balcony

Curved Patio Doors

Composite Decking

Online Shop

Request Brochure

Contact Us

Seperator Seperator

NEWS

  • We are forecasting a White Christmas for Juliets!

    Juliet Balcony disocunt for a limited time only in white and bronze

  • Non-Compliant Balconies Replaced and Upgraded!

    Glass Balustrades transform Weymouth apartments by replacing old non-compliant balustrades

  • Stunning Marina Home

    Curved glass doors and tinted glass balustrades add space and privacy at the same time to stunning Port Solent, marina home in Portsmouth.

  • Grand Designs Show Special Show Discount!

    Grand Designs Live at Birmingham starts tomorrow and runs for 4 days. This is our eighth year at the show and to celebrate we’re offering a superb show discount.

  • We are at Grand Designs Birmingham again!

    Glass Balustrades, Curved Doors, composite decking and Juliet Balconies are all on show at the Grand Designs Exhibition in Birmingham. Click to register for complimentary tickets

  • Part time assistant for accounts department

    Balcony Systems Solutions Ltd. We are recruiting for our Accounts Department. Part Time Accounts Assistant 8-10 Hours per week, flexible and could be worked in school hours.

  • Technical office positions

    Technical office positions, CAD technician, technical office, drawing office, draftsman. We are looking for intelligent technical persons for our technical department and drawings office.

  • Sales and marketing position

    We are recruiting for our office based sales team. Here at Balcony Systems Solutions we have a great sales team and a wonderful company atmosphere.

  • Glass and Wood Balcony

    New glass balustrade and composite decking add ‘wow factor’ to thr roof terrace. A smart new glass balcony and composite decking, supplied by Balcony Systems, add the perfect finishing touch to a basement extension.

  • Balcony Views Magazine - Read it Online

    Balcony Views Magazine is now available to view and read online. An exciting magazine with ideas, innovations, practical information and design concepts to architects, contractors, developers and self-builders.

Blog Seperator

REVIEWS

  • Streetly, Sutton Coldfield
    rating starrating starrating starrating starrating star

    Very impressed with the quality and overall look of the installed glass balustrade. It is visually striking and really enhances the garden ...

  • Balustrade at Kirkfieldbank
    rating starrating starrating starrating starrating star

    The product looks lovely, well designed, and durable. It does all we wanted, a sturdy barrier to anyone, especially grandchildren, falling d...

  • Amazing glass balcony
    rating starrating starrating starrating starrating star

    Beautiful balcony for my loft conversion, shopped around for ages and decided this was the best product and so reasonably priced. Amazing...

  • Chislehurst
    rating starrating starrating starrating starrating star

    Very high standard manufacturers finish. Sleek smooth handrails. Customer satisfaction. Highly recommendable company. Both Mr and Mrs Tu...

  • Balcony Solution
    rating starrating starrating starrating starrating star

    We were faced with the problem of finishing a flat roof oak framed extension on the front of our new- build in a beautiful woodland setting....

  • Icing on the cake
    rating starrating starrating starrating starrating star

    This was a new build barn style house very typical of Border Oak design, built at rear of Norman Hall, Mill Lane, Ickleton, saffron Walden, ...

  • Min-y-Mor
    rating starrating starrating starrating starrating star

    The product has enhanced the property. The installation instructions were comprehensive and installation completed in about 6 hours. The pro...

  • Simple buy stunning
    rating starrating starrating starrating starrating star

    Whilst my balcony is merely a straight 4m run containing 3 glass panels, it really does look magnificent. The balcony is situated above our ...

  • Bedroom Balustrades
    rating starrating starrating starrating starrating star

    It seemed extravagant to have glass balustrades in the bedroom but we have such a lovely view we wanted to maximise the opportunity to our a...

  • Fantastic Product and Service
    rating starrating starrating starrating starrating star

    Juliette Balcony -excellent looks fab,no safety concerns, installed within an hour. Really helpful pre-order service from Graham Baxter, gre...

Seperator