Volume 38, Issue 6, June 2003

Step by Step
A Look at How to Use the Glasswedge Step Properly
by Joseph Tumblin

Before the introduction of Glasswedge systems, installing glass railings had been a messy, labor-intensive ordeal that involved the use of quick-setting cement. Workers had to seal every bolt hole, splice or crack to make the aluminum shoe watertight. Blocking then had to be placed into the shoe to isolate the glass from the aluminum bottom. Once the glazing was set and wedged into place temporarily, multiple pouring of quick-setting cement was used to secure it. Often, the cement compounds would leak and run out into unwanted areas, especially on stair installations. After the elapsed time, the cement compound would have to be cleaned from unwanted areas and covered with caulk. This ordeal (especially on stairs) was messy, labor-intensive and time-consuming. If the glazing needed to be replaced it would have to be chipped out from the cement, and the entire procedure would have to be done all over again. 

A lot of the aggravation and hassle has been removed by use of the Glasswedge system. The messy cement has been eliminated and replaced with a system of plastics isolators and aluminum wedges. This system allows the worker to hold the glass in place without assistance and secure the glazing in a self-centering, permanent position within minutes. The system allows users to remove and adjust or replace the glass panels at any time.

The next four pages offer a how-to look at proper installation of the Glasswedge system.

Step 1
1A. Clean the work area prior to installation. 




1B. Measure and layout for the aluminum shoe. 




1C. Layout, drill and tap holes for the cap screws.




Step 2
2A. Fasten the aluminum show to the structure by using -inch cap screws. 



2B. Use the plumbing tool to ensure the rail is level and accurate. The glazing will self-center according to the shoe.

Step 3
3A. Set glass into aluminum.




3B. Align glazing at butt-edges. Shim if necessary.




3C. Check alignment of lites.



Use a hammer and chisel to drive the aluminum wedge into place.



If there is a problem, you can use the removal tools to extract the aluminum wedge from the system . After correcting the problem, you can re-insert the wedge.


Step 6
Apply cladding to the shoe using double-face tape.




Step 7
7A. Use backer rod and caulk to 
finish the top of the rail ...


7B. ... or use a rubber gasket as an alternate to finish the top. 



7C. Shoe and glass complete on stair and landings.



Joseph Tumblin is a project manager for MTH Industries based in Chicago.


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