Glass has become the standard for railings to achieve elegance and sophistication in home décor. More than just a fashion statement, glass railings combine sturdiness, safety, and optimal light diffusion – characteristics that may tempt one to install them everywhere around the house… But can you actually do that?
Well, glass railings can be installed on multiple types of surface, so in fact there is virtually nothing you can’t do in regards to their installation, should it be indoors, outdoors, on your deck, in your stairs or on your mezzanine.
There are only two levels of complexity associated with installing glass railings: easy, and super easy, depending on the surface material. We will get real fast to the types of surface on which you can mount your glass railings, but first you have to know the secret behind such ease of installation…
It’s the spigots – the bottom brackets that hold your glass. These sturdy, pillar-shaped stainless steel guys do not require special glass fabrication or predrilling, and can simply be screwed into the installation surface using four, 3” to 4” long hex head lag screws you can find at your local hardware store. Head size: 5/16”.
Pro tip: purchase them galvanized (dipped or coated) for exterior application, to avoid corrosion between your shiny spigots and the screws.
Now, the type of screws you buy will depend on the surface your install your railings on! Thus, without further ado, here is the list of surface types ideal for glass railing installation, ranked by level of complexity.
Difficulty Level: Not exactly a breeze, but not very hard
The one thing you want to avoid when installing your glass railings on a ceramic tile surface is cracking your valuable, brittle, delicate tiles. Cracking will occur when the railings apply very heavy pressure (have in mind that some glass panels can weigh up to 150 lbs) on the screws. That pressure is then exerted on the ceramic, a beautiful but fragile material by nature. It will not resist that kind of force.
The solution: predrill a hole with a slightly larger diameter than your screw head into the ceramic. This way, when you attach the spigots to the ground, there won’t be lateral contact between your tile and the screw thread.
This will relieve your ceramic from tons of the actual pressure applied by the glass weight. Your glass railing setup will still be immensely solid as most of the screw thread length will be tightly anchored into the solid underneath, namely wood or concrete.
Ceramic Surface Examples and Environments : Walk, deck, stairs, kitchen
Difficulty Level: Sounds intimidating at first, but it’s really not complicated
To install your glass railings on concrete, you simply need to predrill your surface at the correct screw locations. Make sure you have proper concrete lag head screws so you can attach the spigots to the surface.
Only foreseeable pitfall is cracking your concrete. To avoid that, just make sure you install your spigots far enough from the edge of your concrete surface. Leave room for about 1 ½” between the concrete surface edge and the outer limit of your spigot base plate.
Concrete Surface Examples and Environments : Around the pool, walk, deck, balcony, porch
Difficulty Level: Easy as one, two, three
One: Just like you would do in concrete, drill your pilot holes into the wood and blocking underneath – except it’s easier because you don’t require masonry bits;
Two: Align the spigots with your pilot holes.
Three: Drill the screws to firmly attach the spigots to the ground.
Done. Cover the spigot bases with the supplied cover plates, insert your glass in the brackets and tighten your spigots with an Allen key. Congrats on the new glass railing.
Wood Surface Examples and Environments: Deck, balcony, stairs, porch, mezzanine, etc.
Note: You need proper solid blocking underneath your wood surface – ideally stacked 2x 8’s.
BONUS SURFACE : COMPOSITE
Difficulty Level: Piece of cake
If you have proper solid underneath, most likely wood studs, then installing your glass railings on a composite surface layer is not a problem. Composite boards are especially popular for deck owners. Their soft material makes it easy to drill through. Just follow the same three installation steps as you would for a standard wooden surface.