Glass balustrades have quickly become one of the most popular architectural trends in Australia for modern builds.
A balustrade isn’t just an excellent design element, it also acts as a necessary barrier and is required under the Building Code of Australia, or BCA, to prevent falls from stairways, balconies, decks, or other elevated areas.
In order to ensure safety, the BCA has set specific balustrade height building regulations for home builders to follow.
When you work in the building industry, staying up to date with current height codes is an essential part of delivering high-quality work that your clients will rave about.
Here are the standards that every professional builder should be aware of when installing a glass balustrade.
At what height is a balustrade required?
The functional purpose of any balustrade, whether it lines a stairway or borders a balcony, is to prevent falls.
If a space is located one metre or more above the ground, than a protective barrier is a must, whether it is a home or commercial space.
How high does the barrier need to be?
According to the balustrade height code, the minimum required height is one metre. Depending on the layout and surrounding features, you can make your balustrade taller than one metre if desired.
Particularly with a glass structure, which allows light to pass through and provides a transparent border, having a taller balustrade may be preferred, especially for higher elevations such as balconies and mezzanines that may be more than one storey high.
For stairways, the minimum height is 865mm above the nose of any stair, and one metre above the landing of a stair.
What about the space between the balustrade and the ground?
In order to prevent injury and to stop items from falling off from stair, deck, balcony, or other ledges, the opening between the balustrade and the floor beneath should not allow anything larger than a 125mm sphere to pass through.
How narrow should the space for the structure between posts or glass be?
There should be no more than 125mm between the nose of the stair and an infill. This holds true for posts,as well as for frameless glass.
What are the balustrade code requirements for frameless glass?
Frameless balustrades are considered to be safe and are allowed, but a top rail is required.
The rail must be strong enough to withstand a load of about 75 kilos per metre. The balustrading must also be strong enough to hold the same approximate load.
The architectural glass that is used today is treated so that it is stronger than other traditional balustrade materials, making it one of the safest and most durable choices on the market.
Are there any important handrail requirements?
Handrails are used to offer support and act as an important safety feature.
For active kids who may not be able to resist climbing on a structure without realising the risk, if handrails are placed incorrectly, they can be a danger.
The balcony handrail height code says that whenever a fall is greater than 4 metres, that the balustrade must have a non-climb zone from 150mm to 760mm above the deck or balcony floor.
You also want to avoid using a handrail that could allow for a foothold – anything larger than 10mm. Vertical handrails are often well-suited for this purpose as it is almost impossible to climb on them.
As long as you follow these balustrade height building regulations, then you can be sure that your project will provide a safe, protective barrier.
With glass balustrades you also get the added benefit of knowing that a balustrade is strong, durable, and will prove its worth as an elegant, modern design element for decades.
To learn more about how to perfect your craft, download our free guide, “the Luxury home: Latest tips to great frameless glass.”