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Glass Balconies: When to Choose Them, Pros and Cons

17 January 2023

Thanks to its characteristics, glass is a very suitable material for creating railings for balconies, staircases or other elements inside and outside the home. Its combination with aluminium guarantees a minimal, modern and resistant outcome.

Features of modern glass balconies

The balcony is an area that lends value and character to the façade of the house and if designed well, can be transformed into a functional space.

Glass has become a popular material for balcony parapets: it is versatile and adapts well to a variety of architectural requirements. It also provides style, functionality, modernity and brightness, without ever compromising the essential concepts of a balcony: safety and solidity.

All-glass balconies

In these types of balconies, the entire parapet is made exclusively of glass, which, being transparent, guarantees maximum brightness. With this parapet, the balcony is in perfect continuity and harmony with its surroundings: the glass is fixed directly to the floor, ensuring a completely unobstructed view and a total sense of freedom. The final effect is that of an extremely modern space and refined in its essentiality.

Glass and aluminium balconies

Equally modern is the glass and aluminium balcony railing. The combination of these two materials is truly astonishing; together, they are able to guarantee brightness, strength and durability. Aluminium is, in fact, a very solid material, able to withstand even adverse weather conditions. The glass-aluminium solution, such as the one proposed by METRA Building, is recommended for those who do not want to give up brightness and open views, adding for additional security thanks to an extremely resistant and durable material.
In addition, aluminium allows for a considerable variety of patterns and colours and thus great customisation possibilities.

Is a glass or masonry balcony better?

The masonry balcony was for a long time the only alternative to the classic railing. Even today, it is still a popular solution, especially in older houses and apartment blocks. For new homes, there is a tendency to choose more modern and essential materials, such as glass or aluminium.

One of the advantages of the brick balcony is its robustness, which gives a sense of security and protection. Brick also provides an extreme sense of privacy, especially in the case of a parapet closed on both sides. Finally, it can be constructed with different shapes, decorations and materials.

The main difference between glass and masonry balconies is brightness. The glass balcony allows all the sun’s rays to illuminate the area behind it, whereas masonry balconies are naturally less bright and therefore also less liveable.
The view is also inevitably limited.

So, better a glass balcony or a masonry balcony? There is no absolute best solution. Glass and aluminium for those who like a more contemporary design and want to favour brightness. Masonry, on the other hand, is a more suitable solution for those who want a traditional design.

Glass types for balconies and parapets

What glass is used for balustrades?

As far as balconies and balustrades are concerned, the material used is laminated safety glass that combines brightness and strength.

This type of balcony glass consists of two panes with a transparent film of PVB or similar material inside, which increases the strength of the glass. In the event of breakage, the glass remains tightly adhered to the film and does not scatter. This minimises the risk of injuries and accidents.

For greater peace of mind, you can also opt for tempered glass. This type of glass undergoes a special heat treatment: it does not shatter or scratch. This makes it particularly suitable for balconies that are constantly exposed to the sun.
Moreover, in the event of a breakage, no splinters are formed, but rather small pieces of glass with blunt, non-cutting edges, which are therefore completely non-hazardous.

A cheaper alternative is the GRP fiberglass balcony; this material is less elegant than other glass, but still looks good. Unfortunately, it cannot guarantee a long service life, as it may break due to prolonged exposure to sun and weather. A GRP balcony is only used when aluminium is used in the structure.

All the advantages of glass balconies and parapets: pros and cons

What are the pros and cons of installing a glass balcony in your home? Glass used as a material for exterior and interior balustrades has several characteristics that must be considered carefully and with foresight, also and above all on the basis of one’s own needs and preferences.

Pros and cons of glass balconies: advantages

We have already seen how modern glass balconies have very interesting features from various points of view. Here are all the advantages of glass balconies.

  1. Glass guarantees maximum brightness. Whether all-glass or supported by aluminium, the glass balcony is the ultimate in natural light entering spaces.
  2. Glass balconies ensure an unbeatable view. The same transparency characteristic of glass that ensures brightness also ensures a wide, unobstructed view. With a glass balcony, you seem to be at one with your surroundings. This is why glass parapets are particularly recommended for homes with a beautiful panoramic view.
  3. The glass parapet also acts as a windbreak. The glass protects the entire perimeter of the balcony in a continuous manner. In contrast to a railing, glass provides excellent wind protection.
  4. Glass parapets are safe and provide maximum protection. The “delicacy” of glass should not mislead: glass parapets are carefully installed and made of a treated material, such as tempered or laminated glass, which ensures protection and stability even in the event of breakage. Glass and aluminium balconies are even stronger and allow for enviable durability.
  5. Glass enlarges spaces. A balcony with a glass parapet seems larger than one with a masonry parapet. By seamlessly communicating with the outside, glass gives the perception of openness and spaciousness. This feature can be particularly useful in small, dimly-lit homes; staircases, balconies and corridors with a glass parapet reduce clutter and make the most of all the natural light present.
  6. The glass balcony fits the most modern architectural styles. If you want a home in step with the times, in style with the dictates of the most contemporary architecture, the glass (or glass and aluminium) balcony is definitely the most suitable choice. Essentiality, minimalism, elegance and modernity are the keywords of the glass balcony.
  7. Glass is easy to clean. One wipe with a glass cloth and a mild detergent is enough to get a glass balcony in perfect condition.
  8. Glass does not require extraordinary maintenance. If it is cleaned frequently, easily and quickly, the glass balcony will very rarely need extraordinary maintenance.
  9. The smooth surface provides more safety in the presence of children. Having clarified how safe and durable the glass balustrade can be, the thought turns to the protection of children. Here again, glass is the safest option considering that, as the balustrade is made of smooth sheets, children will have no handholds to climb on. The danger of the balcony is thus reduced to a minimum.
  10. Glass balconies are easy to install. The installation of a glass balustrade certainly requires less work and less invasive intervention than the construction of a masonry balustrade.
  11. The glass/aluminium balcony offers a wide range of customisation possibilities. The glass itself can be worked to create balconies not only straight, but also with different curvatures, sinuous and elegant lines. Furthermore, the use of aluminium in combination with glass greatly increases the opportunities for customisation.

Pros and cons of glass balconies: disadvantages (and how to solve them)

The disadvantages of the glass balcony are basically two, and both are easily solved.

The first is related to the fact that glass gets dirty quite easily with smog or simple rain. Despite this, glass is a very easy and quick material to clean. This is made even more practical if the balcony glass is periodically treated with products that minimise the formation of stains and halos. One can also rely on technology and choose a balcony with self-cleaning glass, which stains less easily. Finally, there is the possibility of applying very thin, transparent and invisible films to the glass, which make it repellent to water, stains and other possible sources of dirt.

The second is the lack of privacy that a transparent material like glass inevitably presupposes. This may not be considered a disadvantage for many customers, who willingly sacrifice their privacy in exchange for a modern, high-impact aesthetic. If you want to preserve your space, you can choose frosted glass, which, while allowing plenty of light to pass through, ensures that no detail of what happens on the balcony can be seen outside. Alternatively, it is also possible to apply special blackout films that protect against prying eyes by filtering natural light while screening out excessive heat.

A modern, practical and aesthetic choice: METRA Building glass and aluminium balconies

When it comes to essentiality, aesthetics and safety, METRA Building balconies are the ideal solution. The range includes different parapet variants not only for outdoor balconies and terraces, but also for indoor stairs, balconies and corridors.

The Minimal Line fulfils all the requirements of contemporary architecture: the all-glass design guarantees maximum brightness and a continuous dialogue with the outdoors. The Origini Line, on the other hand, consists of models made entirely of aluminium or in an aluminium-glass combination; in the latter case, the transparency of glass is combined with the solidity of aluminium, the advantages of which we have explored here.

METRA Building balconies meet the strictest safety regulations and are manufactured to ensure protection, beauty and functionality for its customers.