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Comparing Glass Railings to Traditional Railings: Pros and Cons

Glass and traditional railings are two options that many trouble choosing for their decks, balconies, porches, and other projects the protection of a railing is needed.

Glass railing systems are a favorite with their modern look. They create an airy space that enables clear, unobstructed views. Although traditional railings have a timeless appeal, the balusters often block natural light and cut the scenery.

Traditional railings are inexpensive to install. Still, they cost more than glass alternatives in the long run. The maintenance costs add up to a significant amount, making your clients spend more.

At Unity Metal, we know how important it is to choose the right railing system. There is more to talk about regarding the differences between glass and classic handrails. In this article, we’ll compare them to help you make a well-informed decision.

Glass Railings: Pros and Cons

Glass railing systems are increasingly becoming more popular. They provide an open view and don’t require much upkeep. These advantages, however, come with a few downsides.


  • The minimalist appearance increases the aesthetic appeal of glass railings. They complement various architectural concepts that provide an airy atmosphere.
  • The customization options for glass railings are endless. You can match your customers’ interior and exterior designs with unique solutions.
  • Glass doesn’t require painting or staining. It only needs cleaning, and that’s as often as an outdoor window for deck and balcony railings with soapy water.
  • Glass railings increase property value at the time of sale.
  • Glass railings utilize tempered glass. Unity Metal tempers glass to increase strength, thermal shock resistance, and heat resistance to improve the safety.
  • Glass railing components are made from stainless steel. They don’t corrode, rust, or rot. The durability against environmental factors, hygiene, and fire resistance make glass railings incredibly safe and long-lasting.
  • Installing a glass railing is effortless. This can help your business save time and labor spent on installation.
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  • Glass railings have high initial costs. Luckily, it pays off over the years, with very little spent on maintenance.
  • Glass can absorb and trap heat, making enclosed areas hotter and drier in the summer.
  • Although glass railings offer unobstructed views, they reduce privacy. However, measures that can be taken, such as using frosted glass, if this is a problem for the client.

Traditional Railings: Pros and Cons

Traditional railings use diverse materials, such as wood and composite materials. The timeless attraction offers various designs that fit into diverse architectural concepts. Like glass, traditional railings come with their downsides.


  • Traditional railings have a wide range of pricing. There is a solution for every one of your customers.
  • Traditional railings use various materials, such as wood and composite materials. If one doesn’t fit the client’s taste or budget, you can offer alternatives that will.
  • Traditional railings have various designs that can meet customer expectations by matching their project.


  • Traditional railings need close upkeep and inspection. They may need staining, sealing, or painting to maintain their aesthetics and function.
  • Traditional railings have limited outdoor applications. The materials used usually don’t hold well in extreme weather.
  • Depending on the baluster design, classic handrails may limit visibility.
  • Installing wooden railings is quite complicated and takes numerous steps. It’s best to leave it for contractors, which adds up to installation costs.
  • Over time, traditional railings need repair or replacement to ensure safety. The susceptibility to wear and tear requires care every 12 to 18 months.

Cost Comparison

Wooden handrails in the US cost between $20 and $50 per linear foot. While glass railings can cost upwards of $300 per linear foot, the railings we manufacture at Unity Metal are priced at $75 to $125.

Despite the high initial costs, you get your investment back with glass railings. They add to property value and don’t demand as much care. Wooden handrails have repainting, restaining, and other upkeep needs that cost $500 to $1,500 per round.

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These high maintenance fees compound over the years, making wooden handrails cost more than glass railings.

Unity Metal can help your business appeal to clients who want glass railings with a tight budget through our affordable pricing. Our glass railing systems can match the budget and preferences of your clients. We offer frameless, clamped, and many other glass railing solutions.

Maintenance and Durability

Glass railings last for generations with minimal care. They only need occasional cleaning. The standoffs, glass connectors, top caps, and other components don’t corrode or oxidize.

These make maintaining a glass railing effortless, where cleaning becomes the only concern.

Traditional railings demand closer upkeep. They become as good as the care they receive throughout their lifetime. The care needs include painting, staining, and oiling. These are essentials to prevent unwanted outcomes.

Although caring for these types of railings can be demanding, they maintain their appearance and function for years when provided. This, however, comes with maintenance costs that add up.

Safety Considerations

Regardless of the railing system, it must meet your local building code requirements. The railings must be manufactured and installed according to these guidelines.

Traditional railings are sturdy and utilize many components to ensure safety. However, these parts may loosen over time. Regular inspection and safety go hand in hand with traditional railings.

Glass railings may make unfamiliar faces nervous at first. It’s important to note that the glass used for these applications is different from typical glass. They have the strength and shattering protection that well exceed code requirements.

Glass railings offer a higher degree of security. Once installed properly, they remain secure. Whether framed, frameless, clamped, or another, glass railings provide better security than classic railing systems.

Sourcing railings from a trustworthy manufacturer also plays an equally important role. For example, our glass railings strictly follow the 2021 International Building Code (IBC) requirements.

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Aesthetics and Design

Glass railings have a modern look. They aren’t as adaptable as traditional railing systems. Installing a glossy railing on a vintage deck or balcony may look obscure, for example.

Traditional railing systems can fit into all kinds of designs. They are ageless and can complement what your clients have in mind with countless customization options.

Even though glass railings have certain customization limits, they can also be tweaked to match different home designs. With many different types of glass railing systems, there is one that will match the project of your clients.

Comparison Table

PriceMaintenance Needs and CostDurabilityInstallation easeSafetyView
Glass RailingModerate to expensiveLowExcellentEasyExcellentUnobstructed
Traditional RailingAffordableHighNot very wellModerateGoodSight blocked


Glass railings are expensive, but the pros outweigh the cons significantly. They offset their costs by increasing property value and with low maintenance fees. These railing systems can be incorporated in unique ways to match every home design.

The major downside to classic railings is the limited outdoor applications and the demanding care needs. While maintenance costs add up, neglecting care can make traditional railings too costly with all the repairs and replacement parts.

The major downside to classic railings is the limited outdoor applications and the demanding care needs. While maintenance costs add up, neglecting care can make traditional railings too costly with all the repairs and replacement parts.

Overall, glass railings are convenient and have a modern look. Traditional alternatives are adaptable to different architectural concepts. Depending on the client’s budget and preferences, they can make equally good choices though glass railings win in all aspects.

Source glass railing systems from Unity Metal

Choosing the right railing for client projects is critical. This goes for any railing system to ensure safety and customer satisfaction. At Unity Metal, we offer various railing solutions to help small businesses stand above the competition. Get in touch with us to request a free quote.

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