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I'm in California. My house, built in 79, has a tall 3x9 stained glass window in a stairwell, starting 10" from the floor.

I had a window contractor out to bid replacement windows and he told me that current code requires tempered glass in windows of this sort and location... No problem.

Now we're thinking we don't like common "obscure glass" options and want to replace it with a different leaded glass window. Can I do this? Is there an exception for stained or leaded glass to tempered glass rule?

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https://homeguides.sfgate.com/building-codes-tempered-glass-close-stairs-102700.html

"The code makes an exception for any glazing that meets these stipulations but is protected by a horizontal rail on the accessible side of the glass. The rail must be positioned between 34 and 38 inches above the walking surface and capable of withstanding 50 pounds of force per foot without touching the glass."

So, you take your stained glass window and protect it with a railing, and you're now code-compliant. (Check the actual code first instead of trusting the Internet, though.)

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To stay code compliant install the safety glass/window as needed. This would mean tempered or laminated glass. If you really like your old stain glass or are considering a new one just configure your new safety glass window so that it will accept an insert of your old or new stained glass. Make it easily removable so that clean and maintain between the two.

  • I've noticed that you've linked to your own product/site several times in your answers now. Please just note if you want to promote or recommend your own product/blog, there are some guidelines in place for doing so. In particular, I'd like to call your attention to this line: "Post good, relevant answers, and if some (but not all) happen to be about your product or website, that’s okay." Posting about other topics as well is a good way to avoid being mistaken for a spammer. – J F Feb 23 at 20:17
  • Hold up. I don't think this is good enough. The code refers to all glass near stairs, not just the nearest glass surface. From a safety perspective, you can fall through tempered glass, at which point you'll immediately hit the leaded glass, so you're not getting any safety benefit. – user3757614 Jul 24 at 1:14

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