If you’re lucky enough to have a residence which offers a nice view of the surrounding landscape, the last thing you likely want to do is obscure the vista with obtrusive balcony balustrading. In such situations, choosing a glass balustrade seems the natural course of action, but as with any major long-term decision, the pros and cons should be weighed carefully before one commits to such a plan.
Pros of Glass Balcony Balustrading
The views are incredible: With the choice of a glass balcony, particularly a frameless glass balcony, there will be almost nothing to obstruct your view, allowing you to enjoy your surroundings in an immersive manner that promotes feelings of awe and tranquility.
Glass balustrades create the illusion of a larger space: Installing glass panels is one of the best ways to make a small balcony feel much bigger than it really is, as our eyes cannot easily determine a boundary between the inside of the space and what lies outside of it.
Glass balconies often increase the value of a property: As they are more expensive to install, and carry connotations of contemporary luxury, glass balconies typically add thousands of pounds to the value of any home they are installed on.
Glass balconies fit a variety of landscaping schemes: Because they are clear and unobtrusive, glass balconies let the surrounding landscape speak for itself, and therefore will not clash with the vast majority of landscaping designs.
Glass balconies are durable: While most people do not associate glass with toughness, glass balconies are actually one of the most durable types of balcony available, and have been known to withstand even extreme weather conditions. The glass used for balustrades is very thick and will often safely last a lifetime if properly cared for.
Depending on their location, glass balconies can be easy to clean: If the glass balcony is located close enough to the ground that reaching both sides of it will not be difficult, cleaning is relatively simple—about once per month, take a window washer tool with a soft spongy head, a bucket of water, and a squeegee, and wipe down the glass. Dirt and grime should whisk right off the smooth surface without much effort.
Cons of Glass Balcony Balustrading
Cost: Glass balconies cost substantially more than their steel or wrought iron counterparts, so if you are working on a tight budget, they are likely not the best choice. There are, however, a range of styles available, which vary in cost; plexiglass, for instance, is much cheaper up front than true glass, but it will not wear as well, and often becomes cloudy over time as it is exposed to the elements. On the other side of the spectrum, frameless glass balconies tend to cost the most money (to repair as well as install), but offer the best view and durability.
Aesthetic Limitations: While glass balcony balustrading is no doubt beautiful to behold, it doesn’t mesh well with all architectural styles. It is generally considered to be a contemporary look, so if you have a historic home it may well look out of place. You should, of course, choose based on your own tastes, however—if you don’t mind the look of glass balustrading on an older home, and having a great view is very important to you, there’s no reason not to install glass.
Wildlife may be at risk: At certain times of day, it is all but impossible for birds to see a glass balcony in their way, and as such, they may fly into it and injure themselves. If your balcony is high off the ground or if you live in an area with a large bird population, a glass balcony might not be the best choice. If you do install a glass balcony, make sure that any bird baths and bird feeders are kept a substantial distance away from it.
They can be difficult to clean, depending on location: If you plan on hiring someone to clean your balcony for you, there won’t be any issue, but those who prefer to clean their balconies themselves may have difficulty cleaning both sides of the installation if it is far above ground. If you want to install a glass balcony high above ground, it’s advisable to plan on having it cleaned professionally, as doing so is both easier and safer.
Glass scratches: While the glass used for balconies and other outdoor installations is extremely thick and durable, all glass is at risk of scratching if it is not properly cared for. Be sure to always avoid the use of abrasive cloths and cleaners when washing your balcony, and keep sharp objects away from it.