Glass in Staircases

The use of glass as a safety panel or stair tread is becoming increasingly popular as a means of introducing natural daylight into interiors and opening up areas that would otherwise be left in the dark.

Glass has a misleading reputation for being fragile. It is anything but; a piece of 8mm toughened glass will be able to withstand a steel ball weighing 500g dropped from a height of over 2 metres.

With the glass staircase in the Apple Stores being an iconic example of glass staircases it is important to note that the glass used in these constructions is chemically toughened which results in very strong glass finishes but with a very high cost attached to it.

Using extra strength laminated glass with specialist strengthening interlayers should suffice on most projects and allows the stair treads to be made from the glass itself. As the glass will be a walk-on item it will need to have some kind of anti-slip finish for safety reasons but this will still maintain the light transmission and, be depending on what coating is applied, its transparency.

Glass panels or balustrades can be fixed at the base or ‘hung’ from up above to create a completely glazed safety barrier.

spiral glass staircase
glass staircase

Due to the thick, laminated panels used in these large, extra strength glass assemblies, we would always recommend using Low Iron glass which will reduce the inherent greening properties of thicker glass assemblies.

IQ provide many bespoke stair designs, either using structural glass assemblies or a combination of materials such as cantilevered timber or stone treads. For example, you can use inverted glass screens acting as balustrades (ie; hung from soffits) or more traditional steel stringer solutions with the glass treads suspended between them and a glass balustrade structurally bonded to the outer face.

When it comes to more embellished design a vast choice of finishes, colours or interlayer materials such as fabric, photo prints, metals, timbers or stone can be laminated into the glass panels of the balustrade or tread to create a more decorative effect.  Also LED Glass or integral LED lighting can be used to provide edge illumination or a soft glow under the treads

When using glass, the stairs do not need to be straight.  Organic shapes can be incorporated on plan or in elevation with curves and corners depending on the fixings available. With advances in fire-glass, fire-rated glass stairs are available in 30/30 or 60/60 ratings, opening up staircases as ‘features’ in homes, restaurants or public spaces.

Robbie Cox
Contracts Manager
IQ Glass UKIQ Glass UKIQ Glass UK