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  1. #1
    Zack Ryder's Avatar
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    Default Glass railing on balcony

    Hey guys i'm new to the site, been reading a few threads and decided to post a quick question.

    We are rebuilding our balcony and have decided to set up a glass rail/guard rail. From what I have gathered, In Los Angeles, The top of the handrail must be 42" from the finished floor. I'm guessing I can go a bit higher than that if level of the floor is not perfect. We are building the balcony with a slope, so that the water will drain out from under the glass rail. This means that the base shoe will be floating over the finished floor. What I haven't been able to find is if there is a minimum gap that we need to have between floor and base shoe of glass? We're thinking of using 1/4" blocks to allow the water to exit, but if we need more, we'd rather know now. Instead of having to rip off everything just to go higher. Any help is appreciated. Thank you guys!!!!

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Glass railing on balcony

    What have your neighbours got? IMO, 1/4" is not enough.
    Drive around town and look at a few successful designs.
    I have glass panels around my upper deck. The wood bottom rail is 4" above the deck, high enough so we were able to paint the underside.

    As you know, the tempered panels can't be cut, so the glass you buy will dictate the ht to some extent.

    Save your gas. Here's a few pics. The metal posts that attach to the outer sides are a better design, less chance of a leak.
    No, that's not my house.

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    Last edited by John Kogel; 11-24-2011 at 09:31 PM. Reason: The gap should not be more than 4".
    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Glass railing on balcony

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    ....
    I have glass panels around my upper deck. The wood bottom rail is 5 or 6 " above the deck, high enough so we were able to paint the underside...
    I don't understand how you can have a 5-6" gap between the deck and bottom of the bottom rail. Doesn't the 4 inch sphere rule apply here?

    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
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  4. #4
    Stephen G's Avatar
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    Default Re: Glass railing on balcony

    Not everyone builds to code. Legacy construction would still be standing and I wouldnt lower it to 4" unlessI had small kids or a puppy.

    I hate glass for the same reason the BlueJays and Woodpeckers do, they cant see it and fly into it. I pick up dead birds, sadly, weekly.

    Make sure its tempered safety glass. It wont splinter when broken, it breaks up into millions of tiny pieces.


    Quote Originally Posted by John Arnold View Post
    I don't understand how you can have a 5-6" gap between the deck and bottom of the bottom rail. Doesn't the 4 inch sphere rule apply here?



  5. #5
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    Default Re: Glass railing on balcony

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen G View Post
    Not everyone builds to code....
    Indeed. My point is that John seems to be suggesting the 5-6 inch gap is a good idea, for one thing because it makes it easier to paint the bottom of the rail.

    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
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  6. #6
    Stephen G's Avatar
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    Default Re: Glass railing on balcony

    perhaps a wry sense of humour from the left coast....




    Quote Originally Posted by John Arnold View Post
    Indeed. My point is that John seems to be suggesting the 5-6 inch gap is a good idea, for one thing because it makes it easier to paint the bottom of the rail.



  7. #7
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    Default Re: Glass railing on balcony

    Unclear if this "balcony" with a "floor" is interior or exterior.

    Also unclear if this is a multi-family/condo type situation.

    Seems you're looking to modify existing construction, perhaps just replacing/maintenance vs. redesign.

    The lower guard to grade/finished may be restricted to as little as 2", it depends.

    Keeping the area CLEAN and free of debris is always an issue, as are catchments, and if exterior, drainage and wind. Of course So. CA. is not immune to either, nor seismic concerns. What is below what potentially could be a rain of glass bits? Tempered is not necessarily the "safety glass" required, nor what so generically indicated and not specified by a RDP, will necessarily withstand the forces required to be restrained undamaged as a guard, especially in a seismic event.

    Your best resource if your local authority having jurisdiction. Unclear if LA couny or city is being referenced, or if that would even be true OP location.


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    Default Re: Glass railing on balcony

    Quote Originally Posted by John Arnold View Post
    Indeed. My point is that John seems to be suggesting the 5-6 inch gap is a good idea, for one thing because it makes it easier to paint the bottom of the rail.
    It's a plot to eliminate anyone with a 4" head that crawls with their head flat on the ground.
    The deck was built by professionals back in 1990, long before I bought the place. It is fiberglass on plywood and needs no maintenance. We painted the railings.

    Hello John and Jerry and Stephen. I should have looked at it before I posted.
    There is a raised lip around the outer edge of the deck, which reduces the gap to less than 4".
    "5or6 inches" should never be more than 4" when you are building railings. That goes double in California, even tho heads are generally a bit swollen in California.

    Last edited by John Kogel; 11-25-2011 at 11:32 AM. Reason: Clarification
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  9. #9
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    Default Re: Glass railing on balcony

    Quote Originally Posted by John Arnold View Post
    I don't understand how you can have a 5-6" gap between the deck and bottom of the bottom rail. Doesn't the 4 inch sphere rule apply here?
    Actually the sphere rule is 6" and applies to the area between the tread/riser corner and the bottom of the baluster rail.
    4 " is between the balusters but has nothing to do with a sphere..


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Glass railing on balcony

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    I have glass panels around my upper deck. The wood bottom rail is 5 or 6 " above the deck, high enough so we were able to paint the underside.
    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen G View Post
    Not everyone builds to code. Legacy construction would still be standing and I wouldnt lower it to 4" unlessI had small kids or a puppy.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Elliott View Post
    Actually the sphere rule is 6" and applies to the area between the tread/riser corner and the bottom of the baluster rail.
    4 " is between the balusters but has nothing to do with a sphere..
    Intentionally not building to minimum code? That is not only unacceptable, it leads to unsafe construction - which is what keeps home inspectors in business - but for John to say it here! And for Stephen to accept it?

    Bob, the code for that IS 4", the 6" does not apply to that location. Some codes used to be 2" for the height of the bottom rail above the floor.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Glass railing on balcony

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Intentionally not building to minimum code? That is not only unacceptable, it leads to unsafe construction - which is what keeps home inspectors in business - but for John to say it here! And for Stephen to accept it?

    Bob, the code for that IS 4", the 6" does not apply to that location. Some codes used to be 2" for the height of the bottom rail above the floor.
    Was not aware it was 2" at one time.
    No steps, so no sphere,exactly.


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Glass railing on balcony

    ... and children should be seen and not heard!


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Glass railing on balcony

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Elliott View Post
    No steps, so no sphere,exactly.
    The guardrail still needs to resist the passage of a 4" sphere, even through there are no steps. The guardrail is addressed separately from stairways, although stairways are required to have guardrails under specified conditions.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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  14. #14
    Zack Ryder's Avatar
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    Default Re: Glass railing on balcony

    My neighboors all have framed railing systems. Were doing it with aluminum base shoe, 1/2 tempered glass, and a round cap rail. The base shoe will have stainless cladding to add visual appeal, but I still need to know the minimum gap on the bottom between base shoe and finish floor. Anyone have any idea where I can find out this information?


  15. #15
    Zack Ryder's Avatar
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    Default Re: Glass railing on balcony

    I'm from los Angeles by the way.


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Glass railing on balcony

    Quote Originally Posted by Zack Ryder View Post
    ... I still need to know the minimum gap on the bottom between base shoe and finish floor. Anyone have any idea where I can find out this information?
    Yes! The previous post by Jerry Peck!
    "...The guardrail still needs to resist the passage of a 4" sphere..."

    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
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