How do Glass balustrade Base Shoes Work?

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With an almost-there appearance, you’d be forgiven for thinking that a Frameless Glass balustrade is less substantial than a framed balustrade system. After all, where the system is recessed below the floor the lack of obvious structure makes these glass railings look unsupported. But that’s not the case. Every Balconette Frameless Glass balustrade is supported by a combination of anodised aluminium base shoe and laminated glass.

Frameless Glass Balustrade

Building regulation requirements

All of our balustrade systems are suitable for residential use. Balustrades fitted to homes are subject to British Standard 6180. This states that the handrail for a balustrade in a domestic setting should be able to withstand 0.74 kilo Newtons (kN) for every metre length. That’s the equivalent of having a series of people each weighing 75kg, one metre apart from another, resting their full weight against the handrail. 

It’s easy to understand how an aluminium framed glass balustrade makes this possible. But how does a Frameless glass balustrade comply with BS6180?

Base shoe + laminated glass = structural integrity

Fitted correctly, Frameless Glass balustrades, also known as structural glass balustrades or cantilevered balustrades, can easily provide the strength required to meet BS6180.

Balconette’s SG12 Frameless Glass Balustrades are a cleverly designed system based on two engineering principles. 

  1. A strong base capable of clamping thick and strong glass panels. This is known as a base shoe, base channel or ‘U’ channel.
  2. Glass that can resist the bending movements and loads imposed on it by people and high winds. Balconette’s SG12 Frameless Glass Balustrades use laminated, toughened glass with a thickness of 21.5mm.

Base Shoe

How are glass balustrade base shoes installed?

There are two options for fixing the base shoe to the surface on which the balustrade will stand. It can be installed above the floor surface or beneath. Fixing the base shoe beneath the floor surface provides a seamless appearance. Fixing the base shoe above the ground creates an obvious channel which helps delineate between areas. Base shoes installed above floor level are fitted with a decorative cover plate for a neat appearance. There is no difference in the structural integrity provided by either of these options.

In both situations, the base channel is bolted to the surface on which it stands – this should be a structural surface such as steel or concrete. Attaching a structural glass balustrade to a substrate that is less strong than the balustrade itself may damage your property should the balustrade be subjected to heavy loads. 

Once the base shoe is correctly installed it is ready to ‘cantilever’ the laminated glass. This is done by placing the glass into the channel and securing it in place with glazing wedges.

Installing a Base Shoe

Are glass balustrade base shoes easy to install?

Simple installation is another benefit of Balconette’s SG12 Frameless Glass Balustrades. Clear, step-by-step instructions make installation a straightforward task, whether you’re fixing the base shoe above floor level or beneath. Take a look at our installation instructions to see for yourself. And because no-one wants to rely on an internet connection during installation, you can download the instructions ready to save to a tablet or print out and use on site.

If you don’t want to install your Frameless Glass balustrade yourself, but don’t have a trusted builder to use, you can complete our Installer Request Form to find a registered installer in your local area.

Reassuringly strong

The combination of laminated, toughened glass and the base shoe – correctly installed – is structurally sound and complies with BS6180. As with all our systems, we have subjected our Frameless Glass balustrades to rigorous testing. Independent engineers have produced system calculations to provide satisfactory proof of the compliance of the systems to these standards and regulations. The tests and calculations are available on request – get in touch and we’ll be happy to send them to you.