Softwood timber balustrades just don’t last forever, especially when moisture gets into the end grain. Balusters come loose and posts deteriorate, as natural weathering causes the grain to open up and fixings to rust. You could do patch repairs with steel brackets and plates, but the best solution is to replace it, and glass is great!
Gather your supplies
Combinations of glass panels to suit widths between posts; 600mm stainless-steel join posts; 600mm stainless-steel corner posts; end posts (optional); square post (and wall) glass clamps; longer in-ground posts for stairs (optional); glass handling kit; top handrail (2975mm long); metallic silicone; 90 x 90mm pine blocks for extra post supports (as required); 100mm galvanised batten screws to suit blocking; plastic wall plugs (optional); ratchet; coach screws; 50mm x 12g pan head or roofing screws.
1. This semi-frameless system is easy to install and requires no special tools. It can be bought in modular units.
2. All glass panels for this balustrade are 960mm high, with a 90mm gap at the bottom, making it 1050mm high, safe for most situations.
Step 1 Remove old balustrade. To do this, cut through long handrails and bottom rails. Use a hammer to knock off handrail, then remove balusters and bottom rail. Remove all nails and trim from posts, walls and deck surface. Patch holes in existing posts
Step 2 Prise off any trim from ends of joists so you can see framing underneath. Run a taut stringline along centre of balustrade, then measure position of posts. This is determined by glass panel widths. For say, a balustrade length of 3620mm, use two 900mm panels at each end and two 850mm panels in centre, plus 3 join posts. Allow 22mm for each post and at each end. To set out, mark in centre post of balustrade, then measure 872mm to each side. The ends of outer 900mm panels will be held by wall clamps.
Step 3 Stand posts in position and double-check spacing inside channels to ensure glass will fit. Adjust to make up width, if needed.
Step 4 If your decking boards run parallel to walls of house, deck joists will run out from house. You’ll need to beef up framing under deck so you have something solid to fix balustrade posts to. Cut 90 x 90mm treated pine to suit space between joists. Predrill and secure with 100mm batten screws driven in through joists so blocks are hard up against underside of decking.
Step 5 Set out posts again, then predrill pilot holes for coach screws. Use ratchet to screw down using a washer under screw head. When fully screwed down, there should be no movement in post
Step 6 Check for plumb in both directions. If slightly out, you can usually adjust this by tightening 1 side or other slightly to pull post into line. Repeat for other posts, then sight along line to ensure they are aligned. If posts need more adjustment, use plastic spacers of required thickness.
Step 7 Fix 2 post clamps to each verandah post, with undersides 200mm and 900mm from deck, and centre of clamp in line with centre line of posts. When building balustrade, have allen screws of the clamp on outside of deck. Screw on with 50 x 12g pan head or roofing screw. To drive screw, you may have to undo glass clamp part of fitting with allen key provided. Where glass meets a masonry wall, fix clamps to wall using a wall plug and screw
Step 8 This deck features a widened section that has angled sides. To fit angled glass panels to verandah posts, measure height of clamps and square to both sides of edge. Make 2 saw cuts, then chisel out an angled flat surface for clamp
Step 9 Screw clamp to edge of post in same way and at same heights as those on other posts. Paint verandah posts, if necessary.
Step 10 To join glass panels at angled corners, use a standard 90 ° corner post. For angles other
than 90 °, average the angles between 2 glass panes, so you can skew glass into channels (there is quite a bit of play).
Step 11 Slip covers over base of posts, then put glass spacers in channel of posts. Check height is equal to give you required spacing from deck, here 90mm. You can adjust heights of individual panels if deck is slightly undulating.
Step 12 Using 2 people and non-slip gloves, gently slide middle glass panels into post channels. Check glass panels are all same height. To fit glass in end sections, fit rubber rings into depressions in clamps and open up clamp a little. As rubbers tend to grab glass, back off allen screws a little until glass slips in easily. Spraying glass at clamps with soapy water also helps it to slide into place.
Step 13 Tighten allen screws to grab glass securely at ends and walls, and use them also to adjust end panels so they’re level.
Step 14 If you need glass panels for stairs, they’ll have to be measured and cut to size specially, as there’s no standard angle that fits all. This will take a while as glass also needs to be toughened. Installation is basically the same. If your stairs are wide enough, use the same 600mm posts fitted on stair treads, but if narrow, use longer, in-ground posts fixed to outside of strings. Bottom posts will be end posts.
Step 15 To secure glass and stop it rattling, use wedges and silicone. Cut wedges from supplied rubber block using a utility knife or secateurs and push into gap between glass and edge of channel in posts. To align top edges of adjacent panels, use different thicknesses of wedges as required. Push wedges in, so they’re below outside of channel.
Step 16 Using metallic-coloured silicone provided and applying it in a continuous smooth motion, fill gap on both outer surfaces of glass panels at each post. Ensure gap is filled, but not overfilled.
Step 17 Give glass and post a light spray of window cleaner or soapy water so that silicone doesn’t smear on face of glass. Don’t do this until both glass panels in each post have been siliconed, as silicone will not adhere to wet surface.
Step 18 Use scraper provided to smooth joint. You could also use a Paddle Pop stick. The soapy water ensures excess silicone will not stick to surrounding surface. You should end up with a neat, concave joint. Repeat silicone application and cleaning on,back surfaces at each post
Step 19 In majority of cases, it’s a requirement that a handrail be provided for a balustrade, but you can check with your local council. The handrail is a standard aluminium section that slips over glass balustrade. Cut each length to suit – with a mitre where they meet at an angle.
Step 20 Secure handrail in place with wedges and silicone (same as fixing glass in posts). End caps are available for open ends and for long runs, joint is made with joiner strips that screw to inside of channel before installation.