Designing with Glass Railings vs. Cable Railings: What You Need to Know and 18 Examples

Railings provide safety and stability as people walk up and down stairs and on walkways and balconies. A railing’s function is the top priority, however its form doesn’t have to suffer. Glass railings and cable railings are two options that blend form and function to create a beautiful and aesthetically pleasing space while also meeting building codes and creating a safe space.

Glass Railings

Glass railings are designed with a metal or wood handrail and infilled with glass that meets safety requirements without obstructing surrounding views. It is a modern take on railings and handrails that pairs well with contemporary and modern designs.

Because glass and cable deck railings have no openings, they are one of the safest options for decks, patios, stairs, and walkways, and they don’t obstruct views. One of the downsides, however, is that glass handrails are prone to fingerprints and may need to be cleaned often to maintain their appearance.

Glass railings and cable railings cost between $200 and $400 per linear foot, including materials and maintenance. According to some estimates, glass railings can cost as low as $165 and as high as $700 per linear foot

Cable Railings

Cable railings are also designed with both form and function in mind. They are designed with either a metal or wood railing and use horizontal or vertical cables as infill. This stylish design works beautifully with modern and contemporary designs. The cable system allows for minimal visual obstruction and doesn’t pose a risk to flying birds. It is also a low-maintenance option that is corrosion-resistant and won’t show fingerprints.

Cable railings and glass cost is between $150 and $250 per linear foot.

9 Modern Glass Railing Design Ideas

1. Maintain Unobstructed Views


Image Source

Glass railings are an ideal option for indoor balconies that overlook an interior atrium. The glass infill and minimal hardware of the SHOE™ Glass Railing System provides unobstructed views to other balcony areas as well as the open space below.

2. Maintain an Open Feel


Image Source

The large windows and open feel of this space could feel closed in with a traditional stair railing with balusters. However, the SOLO™ Glass Railing System features a tempered glass infill and stainless steel railings help to maintain an open feel that allows sunlight to flood the space.

3. Blend Glass and Wood


Image Source

Glass and wood creates a contemporary and open space that maintains a natural feel. The BLADE® Glass Railing System makes it look as if the infill panels are suspended in air, which contributes to the light and airy feel of this space.

4. Customize the Design


Image Source

Available with a wide range of customization options, the SOLO™ Glass Railing System, along with other glass VIVA Railing systems, offers colored glass and a variety of powder coating colors for the handrail. With this level of flexibility, you can design the perfect glass railing for your space without obstructing the surrounding views. Patterned and frosted glass options are also available.

5. Blend Industrial and Natural


6. Maintain Connections


Image Source

Terraced stairs provide a beautiful place for people to meet and connect whether during a formal meeting or an informal coffee chat. Surrounding this space with the CIRCA™ Glass Railing System allows the space to feel defined, yet open.

7. Ideal for Floating Stairs


Image Source

Floating stairs are used to maximize usable space below and maintain an open feel throughout the space. The CUBE™ Glass Railing System contributes to this aesthetic with sleek stainless steel railings and tempered glass infills.

8. Meet the Needs of the Space


Image Source

Each staircase is unique, so the glass railing system must be flexible in order to meet its needs. The CUBE™ Glass Railing System features 2” x 2” square posts with monolithic pyramid top caps to create continuous clean lines that turn corners with ease and look beautiful while doing it.

9. Sleek and Modern Design


9 Modern Cable Railing Design Ideas

1. Mix Wood and Metal


Image Source

The juxtaposition between the sleek and shiny metal and warm smooth wood of the TEE™ Cable Railing System creates a unique cable railing design that highlights both the modern design and the natural world.

2. Provide Safety and a Clear Line of Sight


3. Follow the Curve


Image Source

The minimalist design and structural “T” section of the TEE™ Cable Railing System offers post stability against the tension from the cable strands while concealing the cable mountain hardware. This system can follow curves and turn corners, allowing you to create the ideal design.

4. Create a Beautiful Contrast


5. Go for the Drama


6. Bright and White


Image Source

White CUBE™ Cable Railing System railings and posts compliment the white walls while the stainless steel handrail and cables enhance the gray in the stairs and trim in this clean and bright design.

7. Simple and Timeless


8. Beautifully Minimal


Image Source

This CIRCA™ Cable Railing System installation forgoes the double handrails in favor of one railing along the top. Paired with the stainless steel cable infill, this is a beautifully minimal way to create a safe and stunning space.

9. Long Lines and Dramatic Effect


VIVA Railings - Expertly Design Railing Solutions

VIVA Railings has a stunning array of railing and customization options. Choosing between cable railings or glass railings comes down to the design goals of the space, and VIVA will help you create the ideal railing system for your space. With lots of customization options, railings can be specifically designed with the needs of your space in mind.

Contact the experts at VIVA Railings today to see how our in-house team of engineers and fabricators can guide you from concept to installation!