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17 September 2020

As part of choosing the materials and design for your new Stylecraft staircase, it’s important to find the ultimate balustrade.
The right balustrade will both match and highlight your investment.

We supply several types of balustrades in different materials for our stairs, and one of the most popular of these is glass.

Why we love glass balustrades

  • Sleek modern look
  • Light streams through them
  • They show off the interesting designs and quality materials of our stairs.

Types of glass used in balustrades

1. Toughened glass

Up to 5 times stronger than annealed glass.

Though unlikely to break, it’s still a possibility.

That’s why since 2016 the New Zealand Standard specifies that barriers made from toughened glass need to have an interlinking top rail combined with an edge support system to hold the other panels in place if a break were to happen.

NZ regulation
From 1 June 2016, all new structural glass (toughened or toughened laminated) framed barriers complying with B1/AS1 will need to have an interlinking top rail combined with an edge support system.
Interlinking rails must be designed to resist serviceability limit state (SLS) loads specified in AS/NZS 1170 Structural design actions and B1/VM1 in the event that a glass pane breaks

Toughened glass is the lower cost option for glass balustrades.  It’s not possible to achieve a fully frameless look due to the requirement for a structural capping or top rail, however you still achieve a modern and light balustrade design.

2. Sentryglas™ balustrades

Structural handrails can be completely eliminated with Sentryglas™, making this the premium glass balustrade option.  Note that you will still need a graspable handrail, but it doesn’t need to be attached to the glass.

The Sentryglas interlayer is 100 times stronger as well as 5 times stiffer than traditional laminates.
Deflection is kept to a minimum even if the glass were to break – which is very unlikely.

Here’s an example of a floating stair with a frameless glass balustrade.

Nothing blocks the light, and the grain of the stained American oak treads shows to perfection. A small piece of timber encases the glass fixings to provide a seamless look to the treads.

NZ regulation

Also from 1 June 2016, frameless glass barriers (no interlinking top rail) must be constructed from laminated toughened or laminated heat-strengthened safety glass with a stiff interlayer designed to retain glass and prevent collapse, if broken. The stiff interlayer must be capable of preventing collapse in the event of a breakage of both panes of glass. 

If you want to achieve the fully frameless look for your balustrades, we will specify the SentryGlas design in your quote.  The image below illustrates the special layer that makes this glass so strong.


Once you’ve decided on the best balustrade for you, it’s time to think about handrails. As above, toughened glass will require a structural top rail whereas SentryGlas can have a totally separate handrail.

Timber or steel handrails?

We supply handrails in both timber and steel. It’s all about the look that you’re creating.

Timber rails can be stained to match either your treads or the other wood finishes in your home.

See how the colour of this American oak handrail ties in with the other timber in the house rather than the stair treads.


For toughened glass, there are four common profiles:  Round, square, rectangle or oval.  Each has its own look and feel, so we recommend that you come into our showroom to view the options, if you aren’t sure what you prefer.

For SentryGlas you can choose from our full range of handrail profiles including styles that allow you to add LED lighting to the underside for extra effect.

Steel handrails provide a contemporary touch. They can be left as a stainless finish or powdercoated to the colour of your choice.
These come in a round, rectangular, or square profile for both toughened and SentryGlas balustrades.


For a modern feature staircase it’s hard to look past glass!  It will emphasise your stair design and keep your stair looking light and new for years to come.

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