Whether indoors or outdoors, railing systems are all about safety first and foremost. However, security aside, railings can also make or break a space. Depending on the materials, the type of design, and the purpose, there are many options to choose from. Glass and acrylic glass are some of the top choices in railing systems. However, which one serves the best purpose? You may be considering these materials for your handrails but are unable to make a decision yet.
In this article, we discuss the pros and cons of both as well as their most pertinent uses.
Types & common applications of railing
Railing that embellishes your patio and gives you some privacy might not do the same for your balcony. This is also applicable vice versa. Now when it comes to materials, the most popular choices are glass and acrylic, custom polycarbonate glass, wood, steel, aluminum, vinyl, and cable.
Moreover, the design and style vary from one material to the next. For instance, glass and acrylic offer the option of going framed or frameless. As for the common applications, railings can be used for:
- Residential spaces ‒ balcony, deck, porch, staircase, patio, etc.
- Bikeway barriers.
- Commercial centers ‒ access and fire stairs, public transport, car parks, sports and recreation centers, etc.
- Industrial application ‒ warehouses, community centers, loading bays, roof areas, etc.
Merits and Demerits of Choosing glass as a railing material
Choosing a perfect material is quite tricky for staircase railing, dark and wooden staircase makes place jammed and congested looking. Here glass comes with several advantageous, offers style and simplicity both.
The pros of glass railing
- Better lighting:
Glass balustrades allow for more natural light to flow through the railing. Your staircase benefits from the transparency that glass has to offer. Not just that, you also get more illumination within your living space. Dark and opaque stairways tend to make the place seem more constricted and closed off. This is especially prevalent in small and cluttered surfaces.
- Unobstructed view:
Glass railing is a beautiful design element to add to any interior. The unrestricted view alone is worth the investment. It ties the entire space together without taking away from the focus of the home as a unit. In addition to that, it allows you to marvel at the unique colors and textures of the surrounding without interruptions.
- Enhanced safety:
These railings comprise thick tempered glass panels that won’t shatter or break. They’re also incredibly sturdy, highly reliable, and designed to last for years to come. The added light will certainly keep your children and pets safer because they’re less likely to stumble and fall.
The cons of glass railing
- Lack of privacy:
Glass balustrades tend to be transparent, if you use them outdoors or on a balcony, there’s the issue of privacy. You may not want your neighbors or passerby to have a full view of your home. However, there’s always the option to choose frosted or tinted glass to remedy this.
Because of the cost of labor and the cost of thick safety glass, choosing glass railing can be quite expensive. Though that shouldn’t come as a surprise given the tremendous benefits glass can contribute.
Merits and Demerits of Choosing Acrylic as a railing material
The pros of acrylic railing
- Polished design:
Plexiglass has extra clarity when compared to glass. This means it can allow a lot more light to flow through. In fact, research shows it can do that for 92% of the light available in a room. Even if you choose thicker acrylic panels, they will still have great illumination. This, naturally, makes for a polished interior and gives your living space a more modern touch.
- Lightweight and durable:
Plexiglass can be 30 times as strong as glass and is twice lighter. Not only that but acrylic is a lot more durable and won’t wither or discolor easily. As long as you do regular upkeep, then you can expect your acrylic railing to last for years. In addition to that, it’s UV and humidity resistant, which makes it ideal for exterior uses.
- Much cheaper than glass:
If you’re looking to save up on your railing installation, then acrylic is definitely the way to go. This option is a lot cheaper than glass and it’s also easier to cut and process.
The cons of acrylic railing
- More prone to scratching:
One of the biggest demerits of acrylic is that it scratches very easily. So it’s essential that you learn how to properly maintain your plexiglass to prevent any flaws or blemishes.
Which one is most suitable for railing?
If you’re torn between glass and acrylic as options for your railing material, there are a few things to consider. This includes the design you’re looking for, the type of application, and the level of safety you’re looking for. For instance, if you want a more budget-friendly option for outdoor usage, then acrylic is your go-to. It will be able to resist the elements and it will cost you a lot less than tempered glass. On the other hand, if you need a railing for your staircase, the glass is ideal. Not only will glass offer your enhanced safety but also provide more heat resistant when compared to acrylic.
Tips to keep railing clean and clear
- Use a squeegee or cloth and gently scrub the glass surface with a solution of dish soap and warm water.
- Create a 50% white vinegar 50% water mixture to clean dirt build-up and grime on the glass.
- Rinse thoroughly, either using a small bucket of water or a hose. Make sure the spray power is not too hard. Also, consider using distilled water to avoid hard water stains.
- Use a lint-free washcloth to wipe the glass railing or let it air dry.