18 Dec 2018

Innovative use of structural glass

Don’t restrict your use of glass to windows. Innovative design will allow you to replace other building materials with structural glass with some truly exciting results.


"The beauty of using structural glass as a building material is its sheer scope and versatility,” says Peter Hazeldean, MD of structural glass specialist Ion Glass. “It’s possible to really push out the boundaries when you use glass as a building material.”

There are so many different opportunities to introduce glass into your self-build, both internally and externally. Glass can be used for contemporary porches and entranceways, internal or external stairways, balustrades on mezzanine floors or to design complete standalone structures, using innovative techniques to allow the glass itself to provide the structural integrity of beams, fins and supports. Glass structures create real ‘wow’ factor, whether they are an integral part of a new build or an element of a renovation project.

Achieving the results and ensuring the glass is both functional and fully compliant involves detailed structural calculations and precise and accurate measurements – it’s an area of the building industry where expert advice can make all the difference.

Using structural glass for linkways

Glass provides the optimum solution when creating a link between two disparate buildings; especially useful when adding a modern extension to an older building. A glass interface accommodates the differences between old and new construction and can provide a visual break between two architectural styles. If the original building is a heritage property, the relevant conservation bodies often stipulate that the connection should be built from glass.

Peter continues: “The interface between the glass and the infrastructure of the building is critical – the concealed channels, bespoke steel frames, the size and finish of the bolts or brackets all impact on the structural integrity. The glass itself involves many variables depending on how and where you will be using it – for instance, the addition of a handrail will impact on the thickness of the glass specified for a balustrade.

“There is so much more to glass specification than simply choosing between low-iron or clear glass – just for the record, ‘clear’ glass has a greenish tint – if you want your glass completely clear, you’ll need to opt for the slightly more expensive low-iron.

“With glass there is no option to ‘shave a bit off’ or ‘pad it out’, the fit has to be flawless and inaccuracies result in costly remanufacture and delays. But whilst glass is not the easiest material to work with, if you get it right, the results can be spectacular.

“My advice would be that unless you’re looking for something very standard, it really is worth engaging a structural glass specialist.”

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