Glass has long been a popular choice for balustrades in residential and commercial settings. However, there are high-quality alternatives such as acrylic and polycarbonate, which offer a range of advantages over traditional glass balustrades. Whether you’re looking to improve safety, reduce maintenance requirements, or enhance the aesthetic appeal of your space, acrylic and polycarbonate can offer a range of benefits that make them a compelling alternative to glass. In this blog, we’ll explore some of the key reasons why you should consider using acrylic or polycarbonate for your balustrade needs.
What is a Balustrade?
A balustrade is a row of small panels or posts with a rail on top, used as a decorative and functional barrier or railing on balconies, staircases, and other structures. It is used in internal and external settings and serves as a safety feature to prevent falls and provide support while adding an aesthetic appeal to a building or structure. They come in a wide range of styles and designs, as well as different materials.
Why Choose A Glass Balustrade?
Glass balustrades are a versatile design element that can work well with a variety of interior design styles. They are often associated with modern and contemporary styles due to their sleek, transparent appearance. However, glass balustrades can also work well with other design styles, such as traditional, industrial or Scandinavian, where they can add a touch of elegance and lightness to the space. Glass also has excellent clarity so it offers natural light to pass through which is perfect in places where maintaining light or maximising views is essential.
Aside from the aesthetic benefits, Glass is relatively low-maintenance compared to other materials. It is easy to clean, requiring simple wiping to maintain its clarity, and it does not rust, decay, or require repainting like other materials such as wood or metal.
Why Would You Not Choose A Glass Balustrade?
Although there are many benefits to choosing a glass balustrade, there are also some negatives which you should consider. Glass can be a very fragile material and prone to breakages if not installed or handled properly. If the glass does break, it can shatter and break into small, sharp pieces which can be a safety concern. If you are installing a glass balustrade yourself, then you need to factor in the weight of the panel as glass is very heavy, making it even harder to install yourself. Glass panels can also be expensive, especially if you are getting them cut to custom size. So with a high risk of breakages and a high cost of repairs, a glass balustrade may not be the best option.
Using Acrylic or Polycarbonate as an alternative to Glass Balustrades
If you are wanting to have all the benefits of a glass balustrade without the price tag and the risk of breakages, you can use acrylic or polycarbonate panels. That way, you can get both the aesthetic and practical qualities that glass has to offer whilst using a safer material.
Benefits of Acrylic
Acrylic is one of our most popular clear sheet materials and is the perfect material for many commercial and home DIY projects in both internal and external environments. Clear Acrylic has exceptional clarity so you will not lose any of the transparency you get from glass and it has excellent impact resistance which means it is less likely to break. However, if it does break, it will not shatter, unlike glass. Acrylic is also less expensive than glass and it is easily cut to custom size and shape, so you can get the perfect fit for your balustrade. Acrylics’ lightweight nature means that it is easy to install so the DIY process becomes easier, less risky and more cost effective.
Benefits of Polycarbonate
Polycarbonate is one of the strongest clear sheet materials and is over 200 times stronger than glass. It has all the exceptional qualities of acrylic like its clarity and lightweight nature but has added impact resistance. Polycarbonate would be a great option in high-traffic areas where safety is of concern such as schools and sports facilities.
In conclusion, when it comes to balustrades, there are several compelling reasons to consider using acrylic or polycarbonate instead of traditional glass. These materials offer a range of advantages, from superior impact resistance to ease of installation. Whether you’re looking to improve the safety of your space, add a touch of modern design flair, or simply reduce the ongoing costs associated with glass balustrades, acrylic and polycarbonate can be an excellent choice. So, when planning your next balustrade project, be sure to consider the benefits of these high-quality materials and choose the solution that best meets your needs.
Cut Plastic Sheeting are based on the south Coast in Ivybridge, Devon UK. We have a full manufacturing facility which enables us to offer Cut To Size Acrylic as well as Cut To Size MDF. Shop our full range of products, including our Clear Acrylic, coloured acrylic and more recent MDF Wood Sheet ranges.
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