Glass Deck Railing Pros and Cons


Take one look at a deck with glass railing, and you know why you want it. It is an amazing look! The clear, unobstructed view both on and off the deck. Few deck railings make as much of a statement as glass. But glass railing is not all glory. There are some cons about glass railing that will deter you from installing a glass railing around your deck.

The most compelling pros of glass deck railing is an unobstructed view, high aesthetic appeal and durability. The more significant cons about glass deck railing are cost and regular cleaning required to maintain the appearance of the railing.  

There are few deck railings in which I enjoy more than glass to look back at after the job is completed. Glass is such a beautiful railing material. A delightful combination of aluminum railing posts and rails combined with the look and transparency of glass.

The two most common deck design is framed and frameless glass railing. Framed glass railing replaces the pickets with solid tempered glass between aluminum railing and post. Frameless takes the unobstructed view to the next level by deleting the top and bottom rail. For a real modern look, the glass is held in place with spigots, deleting the post from the view.

The next element of glass railing is the glass itself. The number one option is clear glass to allow for that full panoramic unobstructed view. But some glass railing may be obscured, tinted, or frosted to add privacy, especially for a taller privacy railing. Blocking the wind and watching eyes.

One more note to mention about the glass of deck railing, you should avoid glass panels less than 10mm thick. Yes, it is cheaper, but the railing is a safety guard for the deck. That extra 4mm will make a huge difference in strength and look. The little extra it cost is well worth it.

Let’s start with the disadvantages of glass railing before explaining the advantages. That way, you can know why not before finding out why.

Cons of Glass Deck Railing

  • Expensive
  • Requires regular cleaning
  • Greenhouse Effect
  • Tempered Glass Cannot Be Recycled

As deck railing goes, glass is expensive compared to other typical deck railings. Starting around $45 a lineal foot just for the glass and frames. Roughly 30% more than aluminum railing and almost four times the cost of a basic wood railing.

Glass is only clear as it is clean, which means to maintain that beautiful crystal-clear view requires regular cleaning of the glass. From fingerprints to bird poop, it will all need to be wiped off. Because the surface is so pristine, every little speck of dirt will show up. Well, that may be a little bit of an exaggeration, but still, glass needs to be clean to be clear.

Glass railing can also cause a greenhouse effect on the deck. The solid panels of glass blocking the cooling breeze and the sun’s hot rays’ bouncing off the glass unto the deck, making the deck many degrees warmer. Which, on a chilly day, maybe ideal, extending the deck season, but in the summer, it can become sweltering hot beside the glass railing.

Lastly, after many years of use and its time to get rid of the glass railing, it cannot be recycled. Unlike aluminum railing, which all can be returned into useful products because of the temperature and chemicals used to make tempered glass, recycling is not an option. Maybe in 50 years when you are replacing the deck and railing, but not now.

Now for the good part, the advantages of glass deck railing.

Pros of Glass Deck Railing

  • Unobstructed view
  • High Aesthetic Appeal
  • Contemporary look
  • Solid Barrier
  • Low Maintenance
  • Durable
  • Won’t Rot, corrode, stain, fade or rust
  • Fire, mould and mildew resistant
  • No splintering, cracking or warping

The clear advantage of glass railing is the unobstructed view. If your deck overlooks a valley, mountains, the city or your manicured yard, glass railing allows you to enjoy it all. No looking through pickets or peering through small cracks between boards. The view is open for you to enjoy.

Glass railing has a high aesthetic appeal. When you are walking down the street, glass railing will always catch your eye on a deck. It’s the first thing you will notice about the deck, in a very attractive way.

Being a newcomer to deck railing glass is a very contemporary look. Making any deck look trendy and modern, in a good way.

Privacy screens or wind walls are a great addition to a deck. Sheltering from the elements and increasing a sense of comfort but often using traditional material, the wall can become a little overwhelming. Glass provides a solid barrier without the mass, for a more minimalist feel. Or where protection from the wind only is desired, a clear glass railing allows you to enjoy the view without the wind.

Yes, glass needs to regularly clean, but maintenance is low. Glass does not need to be stained, seal or painted. Besides regular cleaning, there is nothing that needs to be done to maintain glass.

Glass railing with or without the aluminum frame is durable. Glass will not rot, corrode, stain, fade, or rust. Unlike wood railing, the glass will never burn, grow mould or mildew. Its edges will not splinter, crack, or top rails warp. Overall, it is just a really durable railing, install it today, enjoy it for years.

Conclusion of Glass Deck Railing

If you are looking to see more by seeing your railing less, glass is an attractive choice. A beautiful contemporary look, bringing your deck to another level. With many pros, glass railing is a real plus.

But glass railing also has some drawbacks. Glass is expensive and will need to be clean regularly. If the budget is not there or the regular wiping not for you, glass is a poor railing option. You want a deck that will work for you, both in cost and use.

Ryan Nickel

A Red Seal carpenter, passionate about building decks to be enjoyed.

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