All glass used for deck rails must be safety tempered and shatter resistant. Also always make sure that all the edges of the glass are polished to prevent anyone from getting cut. Before building a glass deck rail you should check with your local building department to enquire about any local restrictions. Most deck builders use tinted glass to match the house windows and as a deterrent to birds accidentally hitting them.
You may need to do some research to find a local glass company that can manufacture a custom glass order for you. Glass is priced as a commodity that does fluctuate in price. You should be able to buy glass for a deck rail for about $40 per lineal foot. You will need to provide the exact measurements of each piece and the thickness when ordering. Using glass railing is an interesting choice that wonderfully preserves views. However, glass is very expensive and is only used in selected positions around the deck.
Installing glass rails will usually require you to build the rail frame first and take precise measurements to custom order the tempered safety glass. Because glass is very heavy we recommend spacing the rail posts no more than 5 feet apart. Using a wood top and bottom rail you will need to create a channel to place the glass in by using a router. The channel will usually be 3/8” thick and ½” deep to support the glass. You will need to subtract about 3” from both sides of the opening when ordering the glass to leave space for your hands during installation. Sometimes it makes sense to install a piece of blocking or a brace under long rail spans for extra support. Installing tempered glass into stair rails is possible but very difficult. If you are going to try this you should trace the opening on a large piece of cardboard to make sure you get the angles right.
Deckorators Pureview System is the most cost effective glass deck railing on the market. This system uses 4" wide and 5/16 thick tempered glass balusters that are easy to install using channeled rail connectors. There is even a stair connector to make stair installation possible. Scenic glass balusters are available in two shapes (straight and contoured) and in clear and tinted glass.
Railingworks has created a 1/4" thick tempered safety glass with a full 1 1/2" tall decorative aluminum frame. This leads to a very strong and attractive rail. The glass and frame assembly is already pre-assembled, to length and height for your rail system. The metal rail frames are available in a range of colors and the glass panels are available in Bronze, Gray, Green, and Blue tint!