Make a Statement With Floating Stair Treads

Floating Stair Treads

A floating glass staircase is more than a feature in a space. It can be a focal point and a design show-stopper. Clear glass treads can appear to be suspended, untethered to a structure, producing a contemporary, elegant, and ethereal effect.

Floating glass staircases are created by setting the glass treads into specially designed support brackets. Once installed, the brackets seem to vanish and will not obstruct the stairs, creating the effect of floating stair treads or a floating glass staircase.

Make a Commercial Statement With a Floating Glass Staircase

floating stair treads

Floating glass staircases have a number of advantages in commercial buildings, including:

  • Aesthetics: Floating glass staircases add a stylish touch and even drama to any contemporary commercial building, from office buildings to retail and hospitality. They also create a sense of openness and space clients and visitors respond to.
  • Connectedness: In environments like retail stores, a glass staircase can give customers a glimpse of the store’s offerings on the floors above and below them, drawing them throughout the store and leading to more sales.
  • Durability: Despite their ethereal looks, floating glass staircases are made from thick, tempered glass for strength and durability. When specified for commercial environments, floating stair treads are made to withstand heavy foot traffic, and are resistant to chipping, scratching, and breaking.
  • Ease of maintenance: Floating glass treads are easy to clean and maintain. A damp mop will remove dust and dirt.
  • Safety: Floating glass staircases are as safe as traditional staircases. They must meet the same building codes and safety standards as any other type of stair materials.
  • Property value: High-end finishes in a commercial property — for example, a floating glass staircase in a hotel lobby that leads to the mezzanine-level restaurant — increase a property’s value, whether residential or commercial.

Floating glass staircases also serve practical design functions. Use them to divide spaces without blocking sightlines, or, create an unmistakable focal point. Glass staircases can also improve traffic flow and subliminally create an inviting atmosphere, as nothing remains “hidden.”

How Are Floating Glass Staircases Engineered?

The gravity-defying experience of walking on glass can be a thrilling one and often begs the question: “Is it safe?”

The answer is a definitive yes. Standards for glass stairs may include:

  • Thickness: Glass stair treads must be at least 1.5 inches (38mm) thick. This helps to ensure they can withstand the stress of people walking on them.
  • Type of glass: Glass stair treads must be made from tempered glass. Tempered glass is much stronger than regular glass and is less likely to break.
  • Lamination: Sometimes, glass stair parts are laminated. This means that they are made from two or more layers of glass that are bonded together by a layer of plastic. Lamination makes the glass even stronger and more durable.
  • Slip resistance: Glass stair treads can have extra slip-resisting features such as acid etching, sandblasting, or applying a traction control coating.
  • Edgework: Glass stair treads must have polished or beveled edges to prevent cuts and scrapes.

In addition to these parameters, glass stair treads must also meet all applicable local building codes.

Here are some additional parameters that glass stair treads may need to meet depending on the specific application:

  • Load-bearing capacity: The load-bearing capacity of the glass stair treads must be sufficient to support the expected weight load. This is especially important for commercial applications where there may be a lot of foot traffic.
  • Impact resistance: The impact resistance of the glass stair treads must be sufficient to withstand accidental impacts. This is important for both residential and commercial applications.

Always choose a qualified, experienced supplier and installer to ensure the products chosen meet all of the necessary parameters and that installation is performed correctly.

The GBA Glass Stair Tread Advantage

GBA Architectural Products + Services not only creates the off-the-shelf custom products to create a stunning floating glass staircase for your commercial or residential clients — we also install everything we make, giving architects, designers, and contractors peace of mind.

glass stair treads

GBA also offers options that allow you to give your client a one-of-a-kind floating glass staircase, including:

  • Standard glass (greenish/blue hue) or low-Iron glass for a crystal-clear look
  • Fully transparent, fully translucent or anything in between
  • Slip resistant options:
    • Traction control ceramic frits or sandblasting offer excellent anti-slip qualities in both wet and dry conditions
  • Clear or colored interlayers are available
  • Digital printing or silk screening can be applied to your glass to provide a unique feature to your project.

No matter what type of commercial or residential building you have, a floating glass staircase will add client-pleasing style and sophistication — and that “wow” factor every project needs.

FAQs About Floating Stair Treads

The thickness of floating stair treads can vary based on material choices, design preferences, and structural considerations. Generally, for safety and structural integrity, floating stair treads are designed to be thick enough to support the anticipated loads. Common thicknesses for floating stair treads can range from one inch (25 mm) to two inches (50 mm) or more.

When it comes to floating glass stair treads, tread thickness depends on several factors, including the design specifications, structural requirements, and safety considerations. For glass stair treads, it’s crucial to achieve a balance between aesthetics and structural integrity.

The specific thickness requirement depends on factors such as the type of glass used (tempered, laminated, or glass block), the span between supports, and the anticipated loads (the weight of people and objects). Thicker glass treads may be required for longer spans or higher loads to ensure safety and stability.

Yes. Floating stairs tend to be more expensive compared to standard staircases. The intricacy of the staircase design plays a significant role; more elaborate and complex designs generally result in increased costs. The choice of materials, including high-end options like hardwood, glass, or metal, can elevate expenses. Structural considerations add to the overall cost, as floating staircases require careful engineering and may involve additional structural elements, such as support brackets or steel components. Installation costs can also contribute to the expense, particularly if specialized skills are needed. Customization, such as unique handrails or balustrades, further increases the overall expenditure. While floating staircases are favored for their modern appeal and space-saving features, individuals considering them should anticipate a potentially higher budget, with the final cost contingent on specific design preferences and project requirements.

The weight capacity for floating stairs depends on various factors, including the design, materials used, and the structural support system. Generally, well-engineered floating stairs can support the weight of individuals using them as intended. Factors influencing weight capacity include:

  • Materials: The type and quality of materials, such as the treads and structural components, impact the overall strength.
  • Design: The design of the staircase, including the span between supports and the placement of load-bearing elements, affects its load-carrying capacity.
  • Structural support: The supporting structure, often hidden within walls or underneath the stairs, is critical. It may involve steel components or other reinforcement materials.
  • Installation: Proper installation by skilled professionals is essential to ensure the structural integrity and weight-bearing capacity of the stairs.

Yes, for safety and even aesthetics, stair treads are a good idea in homes and commercial spaces. Consider:

  • Safety: Stair treads provide traction and reduce the risk of slipping, especially on wooden or smooth surfaces. This is particularly important in homes with children, the elderly, or individuals with mobility challenges.
  • Durability: Stair treads protect the underlying staircase material, such as wood or carpet, from wear and tear caused by constant foot traffic. This helps extend the lifespan of the stairs.
  • Comfort: Treads add a layer of cushioning and comfort to the staircase, making it more pleasant to walk on, especially in homes with hard or cold flooring materials.
  • Aesthetics: Stair treads come in various styles, colors, and materials, allowing you to enhance the visual appeal of your staircase and complement your interior design.
  • Easy maintenance: Treads are generally easy to clean and replace if needed, providing a practical solution for maintaining the cleanliness and appearance of your stairs.