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What Type Of Glass Is Used For Stairs?

Glass stairs can be luxurious and intimidating alike. They are a unique way to free up visual space in the room, and users can actually feel like they are floating. However, glass is still a notoriously delicate material. Like any structural project, safety will always be a major concern. It is crucial to know what type of glass is essential to maintain safe stairs. Whether you are remodeling, moving into a new home, or simply curious, we have thoroughly researched glass stairs for your peace of mind.

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In order for glass stairs to remain safe, the treads are made of tempered glass, which is also referred to as “toughened” glass. The tempered glass is additionally laminated for glass stairs. These reinforcements make sure that the glass treads can support the weight of consistent foot traffic. This design also resists wear and tear, which can make the glass stairs easier to clean.

It can probably feel a little scary to use glass stairs. Instinctively, we know that glass is very fragile. Fortunately, glass stairs have been developed to prioritize safety and function. But glass stairs are a complex structure, and you’ll need to understand more than just the treads. So keep reading, and we’ll have you walking on air in no time!

A rustic themed loft apartment with wooden flooring stairs with a bolted glass wall attached with a wooden railing, What Type Of Glass Is Used For Stairs?

Are glass staircases safe?

Glass staircases have greatly improved in their safety features over the years. Glass staircases are made of tempered glass, which is considered four times stronger than traditional glass. In fact, tempered glass is literally a form of “safety glass.” 

Tempered, Laminated Glass 

Tempered glass is highly unlikely to break. Even when tempered glass is somehow broken, it remains safer than regular glass. The average glass shatters into large, dangerous shards that can cause serious injury. Tempered glass shatters into small, relatively harmless clusters.

Glass staircases are also laminated. Laminated glass is specifically designed to stay together when it is broken. It uses multiple layers of various compounds that will hold the glass together in the event of massive strain. Laminated glass is actually used for automobile windshields. Combined with the tempered treatment, glass stairs are ultimately much stronger than they seem.

Durable, Long-lasting Material

Glass will also last much longer than traditional wood, which is subject to become severely weakened over time. Wood is naturally vulnerable to the elements, so it can easily rot under the right circumstances. It is also easier to damage, and it is even possible for that damage to go unnoticed.

Non-skid Treads

Glass is also known to be very sleek and slippery. Fortunately, each glass tread's top layer is commonly built with a treated texture that will prevent slipping.

Decorative Aspects of Glass Stairs

Glass stairs can become crucial to the aesthetic of your home or business. It is a staple of modern architecture and will complement any of the other corresponding attributes. You can check out this post about modern home office ideas. Modern architecture is characterized by simplicity and function. As such, glass stairs are a perfect fit.

A modern glass winding staircase with glass steps and metal framed railings

For example, glass stairs can keep decoration down to a minimum by removing spindles. They will open up the room and will always look tidier than traditional treads. This is especially true when compared with rugged treads.

Further, glass stairs will not block your lines of sight. This will drastically affect how light filters through your room. Glass stairs will allow light from windows or skylights to fill the area. This is perfect for space that would otherwise be denied natural lighting. Ultimately, glass stairs are a remarkable artistic statement.

Can you replace stair spindles with glass?

Yes, it is absolutely possible to use a glass balustrade instead of stair spindles. Wooden columns can still frame the balustrade at either end. However, glass balustrades can operate just fine on their own. They can maintain the same level of support as any other balustrade.

Wooden stairs with glass walls and a wooden frame

A glass balustrade may even prove safer than a typical wooden option. This is because glass balustrades have no openings. Therefore, there is no way for objects or limbs to get caught between the columns. It may seem like an aesthetic loss since spindles are often quite decorative. However, some railings are simply plain and unappealing to begin with.

Also, there is no way for children to climb a glass balustrade. The typical railing provides foot support so that kids could hoist themselves up and over. Instead, glass balustrades are completely flat. And, once again, traditional wooden spindles are uniquely subject to decay.

How thick should a glass balustrade be?

You’re probably wondering what a balustrade even is, given the technical terminology. A balustrade is just the row of columns that support the staircase railing. As such, the balustrade is a crucial piece of any staircase. The individual columns in a balustrade are referred to as “spindles.”

However, a glass balustrade isn’t designed with columns at all. Instead, glass balustrades are simply made up of large panels. In order to maintain the same level of support as a series of columns, glass balustrades must be quite thick.

A glass wall of a staircase with stainless steel metal railing

This width can vary from one home to the next, like any other structural design. But the average glass balustrade is around ten millimeters thick. Of course, structural glass balustrades must be even thicker, as in public areas. These can range from fifteen to twenty-five millimeters.

How much does a glass staircase cost?

Naturally, pricing is very circumstantial. The price tag can also boil down to sheer function. For example, you will have to consider how tall the staircase will be. You can check out our post about how long a typical flight of stairs should be. Then again, you will also need to decide on the nature of the balustrade.

A modern staircase with a glass stair steps, metal framing, and a tempered glass wall

Either way, it should be made clear that glass staircases are consistently expensive. In many cases, it is the most expensive staircase to install. The safety precautions alone result in glass treads that can run up to one thousand dollars apiece. When each step costs a thousand dollars, it becomes clear just how much you may be spending. However, if your heart is set on glass stairs, it is difficult to prioritize cost above safety.

How do you clean glass stairs?

Unfortunately, one of the highlights of glass stairs is also a serious drawback. The transparency is certainly appealing and useful. But it also reveals every little piece of grime, such as fingerprints on the balustrade. Even though glass staircases are built to resist scratches, they still need to be cleaned regularly. It’s suggested to clean the glass every few months, but to remove severe stains right away.

Luckily, it is easy enough to clean glass stairs. It is commonly advised to simply avoid commercial cleaning products. This also includes products that were specifically designed to clean glass alone. The simple use of soap and water will actually suffice.

However, you can also scrub the glass with lemon juice or white vinegar. You can always wipe this down with any clean cloth, but some have suggested using a typical shower squeegee. This is commonly recommended for exterior glass balustrades.

Click here to find this Shower Squeegee on Amazon.

Summary

It probably seems counterintuitive to trust glass stairs. After all, it even looks like there isn’t any support beneath you! But the truth is, glass stairs are much safer than they appear. And their design has only become even safer over time. Now that you know how glass stairs are constructed, you’re prepared to properly install that shiny new staircase! Or, perhaps, finally willing to approach that glass staircase in your new home.