I'm trying to design/install a custom glass railing in my home. Here is my design concept:

enter image description here

It consists of a 13' span covered by 12' (4 pieces 3' wide) of railing with an aluminum channel at the top to serve as a handrail (it also contains lighting).

The plan is to side mount the glass panels into the lower surface as indicated in the model. Here is a detail view:

enter image description here

The framing underneath looks like this:

enter image description here

The Ask

My understanding is that the building code requires the railing to withstand 200 lbs of lateral force at 42" from the floor. Those numbers make sense to me as it predicts that if an adult accidentally fell against it, it wouldn't fail.

Does anyone know the relevant code(s) for this sort of thing?

Can I simply screw into the beam? If so, with what hardware?

We're trying to avoid having any vertical posts, but is there an alternative mounting strategy that might make more sense -- or be more cost effective?

Thank you for you time and consideration. Cheers.

  • 1
    The company manufacturing the glass panels for you will likely be the people that can answer that question for you. They should have engineers on staff.
    – DA01
    Commented Mar 11, 2014 at 0:36

1 Answer 1


It looks neat.

I think I'd be looking for a glass railing engineer (as in an engineer employed by a firm in the business of glass railings or engineered/architectural glass structures in general) to ensure that the glass, mounting and attachments were all adequate. And I like doing stuff myself. I'd just be uncomfortable with the possibilities for building something that looks (as this does) like the sort of thing you'd see in a mall, airport, etc but that then fails to perform as required when it matters - and that could be from something as minor as the way the holes for the supports are put in, or tiny defects on the clamping surface of the mounts (either of which might result in cracks, and cracks lead to glass structures falling apart.) These folks (and the correct hardware, glass, etc.) exist - as witnessed by the malls, airports, etc...

One thing might be to beef up the top rail into a more structural component.

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