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Specifying Balustrades Without Handrail

Posted on 1st September 2022

Balustrades without handrail are often specified for balconies, terraces, and voids, however when opting for this design the specification of the glass is a vital consideration to maintain the integrity of the balustrade system.

BS6180:2011 section 8.5.2 states ‘a handrail should always be used unless a laminated toughened glass construction is used that would remain in-situ if a panel fails’ when opting for no handrail on the balustrade system.

Balustrade systems with no handrail, glass infill and stainless steel posts will require the glass panels to be specified as toughened laminated and take into consideration the handrail load needs to be applied to the infill as well as the infill loadings.


Structural glass balustrades, such as Delta’s Vista range, are specified to ensure the glass infill can withstand the full loading (including the missing handrail loading) through increasing glass thickness and composition.

Structural glass balustrades with no handrail should be designed to ensure the integrity of a glass panel is maintained in event of a breakage.

Delta’s recommendations for specification to mitigate this risk and design for broken state maintaining full loading include:

  • Infill specified as 21.5mm toughened and laminated glass to withstand 0.74kN/m loading (based on 1.1m high balustrade)
  • Infill specified as 25.5mm toughened and laminated glass to withstand 1.5kN/m loading (based on 1.1m high balustrade)
  • Specification for structural glass balustrades above 1.1m high should be discussed with the supplier, as this may dramatically increase the glass infill specification alongside wind loading considerations

Refer to BS6180:211 section 8.1.2 which states ‘without a handrail each panel should be able to withstand the appropriate design load.’

To comply with regulations balustrade systems specified to stairs and ramps are required to have a handrail.

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