In this installation guide, we will be addressing how to install a U-Channel Handrail around your glass pool fencing or glass balustrade.
With all the glass panels of your pool fence or balustrade installed, measure the lengths of U-channel top rail required for each straight ‘run’.
Since the rails come in 5800mm lengths, runs UNDER 5,800mm will require the handrail to be cut down and runs OVER 5,800mm will require 2 or more lengths and joiners to suit. Each length of u-channel top rail will end with a cap or with a wall-tie so the thicknesses of these will have to be allowed when cutting.
Making Your Cutting List
Creating a cutting list is vital to ensure the handrail is used in the most economical and symmetrical way – as specified by your salesman. Cutting into the wrong length may cause wastage or even a shortage when all the lengths are consumed.
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Where the straight run requires a joiner or joiners, measure the entire run and decide where the straight joiners are best suited to go – usually so the lengths look equal. Use Loctite 638* retaining compound on the mating surfaces of the joiners.
Corner Joiner – 90 Degrees Fixed
Adjustable corner joiners
U-channel handrail is finished off with an endcap or a wall tie. The ties are approx. 5mm thick at the end so that amount MUST BE SUBTRACTED from the cutting measurement. Always double check the thicknesses which need to be subtracted.
The best use of the handrail material: symmetrical and least off-cuts
Poor use of the handrail material: the left run has one odd join which is not symmetrical and there is a joiner left over –
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If the opening post-to-post run is 4,250mm:
Cut material to 4250, -5mm (wall tie), -5mm (wall tie) = 4240
If the opening post-to-post run is 7,450mm:
Cut material to 7450, -5mm (wall tie), -5mm (joiner), -5mm (wall tie) = 7435 ÷ 2 = 3717mm x2 lengths
How To Cut Handrail
There are several different ways to cut U-Channel handrail material to length:
- A 1mm cut-off wheel on an angle grinder
- By hand with a hacksaw
- Using a machine such as a metal cold saw or bandsaw.
Each method has its own disadvantages:
- Cut-off wheels tend to generate heat and sparks and if the chrome finish doesn’t receive sufficient cooling, the material will become so hot that the chrome finish becomes discoloured.
- Hacksawing a shiny surface can cause the saw blade to slide and damage the chromed surface or even injure the operator.
- Clamping a length of polished chrome handrail in a machine vice or jaws may cause deformation or deep scratches in the material.
Starting at one end of the material, allow for joiners each time and remeasure after every cut. This will prevent any case of tolerance build-up. Note that not all joiners are exactly the same – there may be variations of 1 or 2 mm–so check the fit every time before cutting the next piece of handrail material. De-burr the cuts, inside and out with a suitable hand file or de-burring tool. Insufficient deburring will lead to difficulty in fitting the joiners and leave sharp edges on the handrail.
Rubber gasket material for ROUND and SQUARE handrail:
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Available U-Channel Handrail with rubber gaskets
Both round and square sections are secured with a rubber gasket (shown in red)
Here are the best and safest ways to cut the material using each method:
- Silvo, or similar.
- Hacksaw – tape the approximate cut area with masking tape. Use at least a fine 22tpi sawblade. Secure the handrail length to a piece of timber or another protective surface. Start the hacksaw off gently on the marked tape which will help prevent the blade slipping to start with.
- Bench saw – ensure the material’s surface is protected over the entire length. Provide a soft jaw setup for clamping and use coolant.
Ensure the cuts remain square and rectify them if they drift off. It’s not so important when using a wall tie as the end of the material is hidden BUT it may affect the overall length.
Step-By-Step Guide to installing a U-Channel Handrail:
1. Unroll the rubber gasket material across the top of the fence run:
2. Tape the rubber section glass in two or three places per panel (masking tape is easier to remove later).
With a sharp blade, cut away the rubber gasket where the fence gaps occur. This will prevent the gasket material from being visible when the handrail is fitted:
3. Spray the top of the rubber gasket material with soapy water to aid fitment.
4. With the second rail length fitted to the joiner and any wall ties in place.
Offer the handrail u to the top of the run and bear down on the channel, seeing that it slides fully down all along the entire length. If the channel is tight, then light use of a rubber mallet can be employed evenly along the length.
5. Add second length with end tie or corner joiner as required
6. Application of Loctite retaining followed by the90degree round corner joiner fitted compound on corner joiner.
7. Remove the excess tape and any of the gasket material that might have squeezed out of the channel and become visible by delicately trimming it off with a Stanley knife blade or similar.
8. A completed handrail run
Need more help with installation?
Don’t fret, contact Trade Glass Depot for any assistance with installation or purchasing the correct materials you need for the job. Make sure your job runs as smoothly as possible! Check out our glass hardware page for information on any of the products we mention in this installation guide.