When it comes to installing modern transparent balustrades, glass is often a popular choice of material. However, stainless steel wire balustrades offer another option, and they come with a range of benefits you may not have considered.
Here we compare both materials on a range of important factors to see how they perform when it comes to commercial balustrades.
One of the reasons for the popularity of glass is that it can look great as it is, without interfering with the surrounding design.
However, stainless steel wire such as Webnet mesh offers the same quality. It has a very light profile which means it can blend in with surrounding design factors or even the landscape. It can also be coloured to suit any decor.
Transparency and airflow
Glass is often chosen due to its transparency and the way it allows in natural light. However, this can be limited. For example, it can lose transparency from certain angles once the light bounces off its surface. Glass is also inclined to attract dust and dirt, which interferes with transparency.
Webnet mesh has approximately 90-95% open area, making it very transparent, and it has no reflectivity issues that interfere with this. This factor also allows for excellent airflow as well – something that glass tends to lack.
Longevity and durability
Webnet mesh is an excellent performer in this regard, as it can last up to 25 years as a balustrade material without too many issues.
This compares favourably to glass – which while durable, has a maximum lifespan of around ten years.
Both materials have low requirements when it comes to ongoing maintenance.
Maintenance for Webnet usually only requires an annual inspection to check for any breaks or tears, corrosion or tension issues.
For glass, maintenance requirements may involve dealing with breakages, scratches and replacing panels. Unlike Webnet, glass tends to need constant cleaning due to the smudges, scuff marks, dust and fingerprints it is prone to attract. All of these can interfere with its appearance and mean there is an ongoing cost to keeping the balustrade looking good.
Span / sheet size
Webnet can accommodate very large spans while being easy to handle. This compares well to glass, which is limited in this respect.
Glass might have a light appearance, but it is relatively heavy – weighing several kilos per square metre compared to Webnet at just 300g.
Meeting load requirements
To meet load requirements glass needs to have sufficient thickness, which can lead to the panels being very dense and heavy.
Webnet can meet load requirements without needing any structural changes.
Glass is fairly easy to install for a balustrade, but it does require a sub-frame and the sheets can be heavy to carry.
Webnet however is very quick to install, largely due to its light weight, lack of framing and ability to accommodate larger spans.
One of the problems with glass is that it shatters under high heat. It can be made fire-resistant, but doing so adds considerably to the cost.
Stainless steel wire balustrades have high fire-resistance, as the material can withstand very high temperatures without losing structural integrity.
To make glass non-climbable, the panels need to be at least 1,200mm in height. This adds to the cost of the barrier and also makes installation more complex due to the weight and size of the panels. It can also interfere with the functioning of HVAC systems.
Webnet mesh and stainless steel wire balustrades can be made fully non-climbable by installing full-height barriers that do not interfere with air conditioning systems. Examples include the Melbourne School of Design and Monash LTB.
Glass costs around $1,000 per metre for rails and $400-$800sqm for barriers. This works out more expensive than Webnet at approximately $150-$650sqm. The need for constant cleaning of a glass barrier could also add to ongoing maintenance costs.
Want to know more about stainless steel wire balustrades?
If you would like to know more about stainless steel wire balustrades using Webnet, get in touch with our design team.