What is a decent cost estimate for glass railings?

Has anyone done a railing similar to this recently who can give me an approximate $/LF budget number?

(I don't personally much like this type of railing, but someone where I work has requested one. If the $/LF is outrageous, that might be all the better.)

Jun 25, 15 4:32 pm
Non Sequitur

That type of glass guard is mega illegal where I practice...

From those I've looked at, the cost is really high due to the shoe/anchor system since it needs to resist the force of a fat drunkard jousting against the glass.

Jun 25, 15 4:36 pm

i'm with NS.  don't see how you could do that.

also, the gap between steps has to be less than 4"

Jun 25, 15 4:43 pm

Couple hundred a LF for a traditional glass railing w/ s.s. handrail and shoe.

My projects have all had thousands of LF of the stuff though, no idea what the floating treads would cost

Jun 25, 15 4:54 pm

$100 / lf and up.

Really bad detail. I've seen this used as pool fencing, really terrific where a bunch of kids are running around. Same applies indoors, and to people with less than perfect vision, or been drinking, or older, or distracted ... best to keep the ambulance number on speed-dial.

If you *have* to use this at least the very put a visible handrail on the top to delineate the glass and give people something to hold on to when climbing stairs. Probably a good idea to delineate it at the floor as well. But best to avoid glass rails altogether as they are NOT friendly. I would do my everything possible to talk a client out of it.

Jun 25, 15 4:55 pm

I'm more interested in the Code, nonsequitur is designing to and where this is illegal?

Jun 25, 15 5:03 pm
Non Sequitur

JeromeS, I practice in Ontario, Canada. We have our own code derived from the Canadian Building Code, which itself is derived from the international code. We've also had a few glass balconies explode in recent winters. Also, I'm drinking in the office. Related? Perhaps.

Such glass guards are illegal for a number of reasons, but a main one it when tempered glass is used with, as shown in the picture, an unprotected edge. There is also the issue with the freeze-thaw cycle here where, like in a balcony, water freezing in the glazing shoe causes the guard to explode. Perhaps illegal is too strong a term... let's say the application is "possible" but the look of the guard in Donna's picture is not legal.

But, the main reason is that such a guard must always maintain it's structural strength so the only way to detail glass railings is to have a steel handrail with the right resistance separate from the glass in case the glass suddenly disappears. In other words, break the glass, no more guard, hence the life safety issue. I've worked on a few "similar" applications using laminated glass and the anchoring detail was just stupid.

Jun 25, 15 5:56 pm
Olaf Design Ninja_

go 150 lf

Jun 25, 15 6:06 pm

Owned a glass business and think the $100/LF is a little light, the hardware to install the glass alone is $80/LF (based on your photo), and then add the glass at $200/LF. With install its closer to $600/LF and the steps could get up to $800/LF installed just for the screw-around. Don’t think code is a real issue; this stuff is so prevalent these days.

Jun 25, 15 6:15 pm

Thanks for the replies everyone!

Honestly I can't stand the look of the glass fitted to the stair risers and treads like that - ugh.  

So if I tell them $3-600 per linear foot that will hopefully dissuade them. Plus I'll mention my safety concerns, which in this application that I'm doing are very significant.

I love glass, I love seeing the blue-green edge of glass especially! But I think this kind of application is just showing off - grandstanding. I like a steel guard, personally.

Thank you again, everyone!

Jun 25, 15 6:20 pm

Call CR Laurence for a loose quote

tack on an engineering bump

I'm guessing $200/lf

let us know if we win!

Jun 25, 15 6:24 pm

I just priced something like this. 


I would put it at $350-450/lf


I priced this system:

in clear glass instead of frosted w/ frit and it was $750/ lf


I priced this shoe system:

installed w/ clear tempered glass by a fairly efficient local shop and it was $300/ lf installed on top of steel stringers. 

Jun 25, 15 7:00 pm

IBC requires that top rails be attached to the top of structural glass balusters to a minimum of three panels ensuring that if one panel fails, the other two will support the rail. However, they allow an exception that will allow you to omit the top rail where the glass balusters are laminated glass and approved by the AHJ. The panels will also have to be designed to withstand the code required loads (obviously).

From what I have seen, this means you will probably end up using an ionomeric polymer interlayer (not your standard PVB). Look up DuPont SentryGlass. Also look up some really cool youtube videos showing the difference. This type of interlayer will retain some structure when the glass breaks. Probably not enough to keep the drunkard from falling, but it will provide enough that maybe little Susie won't. 

I still don't know how they got away without providing a handrail at the stairs in Donna's photo though. 

Jun 25, 15 7:37 pm
Olaf Design Ninja_

its interior. it can be done for cost of sheets of glass and less expensive shoes or custom detail with raw materials...i like this stuff. railings are overated.

Jun 25, 15 9:13 pm

It's probably not somewhere with strict or enforced codes.
If using glass and standoffs and it is residential, I agree with Olaf - take cost of glass w/ coordinated holes, plus standoffs and brackets. Probably $200-250/ lf installed by a competent person

Jun 25, 15 9:35 pm


dude it is a wet dream....wake will get over it....

Jun 25, 15 10:56 pm

Is it even legal to have glass handrails? The handrail must be resilient from shattering or braking so maybe an acrylic handrails. Look for acrylic solid rods of about the same dimensions and have it field cut, drilled, etc. as needed. 

I believe you'll need a handrail on the wall. What I see in the above picture would not be code compliant.

Jun 25, 15 11:49 pm

I just want to note how much I lovehate that detail of the semi-circular cut where the stair guard panel meets the nosing of the mezzanine floor. And the base trim turns the corner then stops. Where was that thread of strange details a while back?

What building is this photo showing, Donna?

Jun 26, 15 2:49 am

midlander I just google imaged "glass guardrail". As I said in the post, I don't like this style of railing anyway, and this one in particular I think is bad.

I should point out that I need this thing to act as a GUARDrail not a handrail (yes, I know the difference), even more reason to dissuade the people who want it from using it.

Jun 26, 15 8:59 am

we've used p&p artec's chicago rail with great success on a couple projects.  it doesn't really look like your picture, but that's a good thing.

Jun 26, 15 9:15 am

As a guard rail, it does have my concerns but where's the handrail for the stairs?

Jun 26, 15 12:28 pm

We use glass rails frequently. 250/ft is good for estimating purposes here in Los Angeles.  Add 25% if you want low iron glass.  Usually you will not need special engineering if you use the pre-approved details from CRL or others.  Yes,  a solid continuous cap at the top is now part of most codes.  In a residential setting you can cap the glass with wood or metal to double as your handrail.   I saw one project here in LA where the glass was structural and completely supported the stair.  That was cool.

Jun 29, 15 1:41 pm

Q-Railing makes a pretty good glass guardrail system that wasn't outrageously expensive last time I priced it (two years ago). It's turnkey with a kit of parts, unlike many custom glass railing systems. I'm sure they'll help you get a price quote:

Not putting the cap rail on the glass will certainly void the warranty, likely won't meet IBC requirements, and leaves the glass edge subject to damage (not a good thing with tempered panels, even if laminated). But you might be able to get away with a fairly minimalist (1/2" x 1/2") metal cap channel rather than a full-blown handrail section. Especially in a single-family interior application.

Or you could have them install the cap rail and explain to your clients that if they hated it they could remove it themselves after occupancy, but you advise against that and take no responsibility and would like to know when they do it so your photographer can come shoot the project, etc., etc.

Jun 29, 15 2:12 pm

I would never prefer this kind of railing, because it is so sensitive that you have to be very careful while walking on them. I only prefer some stylish and Awesome looking Railings which may give a better view and may stay long....

Jun 4, 16 11:45 am
go do it

I posted this DuPont safety glass performance videos

on this thread

I am with Donna they are dangerous as frack.

Jun 4, 16 1:57 pm

I am surprised at so many high $/linear ft estimates by pros here.

We install different kinds of tempered glass railings systems in the Los Angeles area, routinely below $200/ln ft... on larger jobs with easy access we charge even less than $150 total... so don't overpay... do your homework. If the installer buys all his hardware from CRL, there may lie some of the pricing problem... it's like buying your restaurant supplies from Gelsons!

Sep 20, 16 10:05 pm

Pros? Really? I don't install, so not sure if I'm a pro. Several of the estimates don't seem too far off, and given regional cost, experience and varying quality of the installer, I'd expect to see the numbers all over the place. Is CRL really high? They seem to me, to be a parent company, that bought up a shit ton of smaller companies, and now serve as the one stop shop, I've tried talking to them, they hardly seem like they've got their shit together, so I'm having a difficult time believing their pricing is anymore put together, but I don't know; I don't know what the fuck Gelsons is.

Sep 20, 16 10:38 pm

I recently had a contractor quote exterior glass railings from Blumcraft. $800 per ln.ft. installed with 3/4" glass and S.Stl. cap. 

Sep 21, 16 4:35 pm

I've heard, but can anyone confirm for me, that 3/4" (tempered) glass is generally twice as expensive as 1/2" (tempered) glass. 

Sep 21, 16 4:53 pm

so did the client go for it? what was the actual cost?

Mar 6, 17 11:33 pm

^ Plagiarized from "Why Homeowners Are Opting For Glass Fencing" - sponsored content from the Murphy Fence Company.

Mar 7, 17 10:08 am

johannaliedes is probaby some latest Balkins attempt to generate a new knowledgeable alter ego.

Mar 7, 17 11:21 am

Interesting reading here....

Our glass rails range from $160 - $750 per-foot, depending on application.

Glass railings are pretty much like anything else, if your architect/seller/fabricator/installer is underqualified and you make a poor decision, you are in trouble.

Glass is an excellent option in many different environments and uses for railing work, and can be architecturally stunning. The proper materials must be used in the proper manner.

We have done hundreds of glass railing projects across the country and have had 'above expected' results with a very high percentage of our customers. We've had 1 piece of glass fail out of thousands installed since 1993. The current glass products that are available are far better than they were 20 years ago and continue to improve, as do the methods, accessories and processes that make them a solid choice for both contractors and consumers.

Some of the current IBC codes need to be tightened. Some of the current codes are too extreme. We are a voice to the codemakers, play by the rules, and work to provide superior products that meet our customers needs. Common sense and experience rules in all custom applications. 

Cheers, Dean Stewart

Jun 1, 19 1:59 pm

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