Stepping into the Stair Market


Members of the Stairbuilders and Manufacturers Association tour one of the Los Angeles manufacturing facilities for C.R. Laurence Co. 

 

Glass is no longer relegated to windows and walls. Trends in the last 10 years have increasingly brought glass systems into the building interior, whether for office entrances, wall partitions or railings. Now the residential market is following suit, with glass coming into guard rails and stair rails in the home.

Last week, I attended a Regional Workshop for the Stairbuilders and Manufacturers Association at one of the Los Angeles manufacturing facilities for C.R. Laurence Co., where this trend topped discussions. While the SMA continues to be a group very focused on millwork and traditional wood stair and rail systems, emerging design trends toward glass handrails and stair rails have led the organization to the glass industry.

“We are getting a lot of demand on this, moving from the commercial market into residential,” said Tim Timmons, current president of SMA and owner, president of Source Building Products USA Inc.

CRL, which has been at the forefront of the movement to bring glass handrails and stair rails into commercial projects, has also begun seeing an increase in demand from the residential side. “We are seeing a lot of interest from the residential market to get these systems in homes, particularly in bigger cities—Los Angeles, Chicago, New York,” said Brian Clifford, CRL technical director for architectural railings and metals.

As a result of increased demand for residential rail projects, the company decided to get involved with the SMA. CRL is looking to educate stairbuilders about product options, provide information about safety and code requirements, and help the residential stair manufacturers connect with glazing industry professionals, officials said.

“We want to help you quote the right way, the first time; to give you the best options so these systems aren’t cut due to cost; and to make sure you have the right documentation. There are life and safety issues—the systems need to be right,” said Chris Hanstad, CRL vice president of architectural sales.

While residential glass rails is still a niche market, it offers significant growth potential, particularly if it follows the growth trajectory of commercial interior glass products, or of residential bath enclosures, officials say. Glass industry companies have a critical expertise in this emerging market that will be increasingly in demand. Perhaps it’s time for more glass companies to capitalize on this opportunity and expand their scope into stairs.

Katy Devlin is editor of Glass Magazine. Contact her at kdevlin@glass.org.

Comments

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