Glass balustrades are an ever-present component in modern day construction, increasing in popularity on a broad range of applications. Typically, ‘glass balustrades’ can be categorised in two groups - frameless glass designs and post systems, these structural glazing elements are used primarily to provide an aesthetically pleasing glass barrier, whether protecting against the elements, or for a change in floor level or a drop.
Glass balustrade specification requires a broad understanding of the individual requirements involved in the project and its precise use. Glass balustrading solutions may vary notably depending on application. Is the project a multi-occupancy high rise hotel requiring glass balustrades in the balcony areas? Or a retail shopping centre that needs frameless glass balustrading in internal mezzanine areas?
ONLEVEL has experience of assisting with the design of numerous glass balustrade solutions and advising on the correct solution, for the chosen application
The use of glass in construction has rocketed over the last thirty years, led by technological advancements to enable its use across a range of structural applications. Its use with steel has been a harmonious partnership, creating clean, functional, light filled environments that typify modern day building design.
Modern Frameless or Old-Fashioned Post?
One of the first considerations in detailing a glass balustrade solution is whether to include posts or not? Ultimately this comes down to aesthetics and ensuring the best performance. Frameless glass balustrades provide unrestricted views. ‘Frameless’ systems use an unimposing aluminium base with a ‘U’ profile (base shoe or channel) to engage the glass. The glass is then fixed into place with plates or wedges (at approximately 300mm intervals) using a fixing tool to align glass which saves significant time. ONLEVEL offer its patented Flex-Fit system for fixing and adjusting glass balustrade panels. With this system it is possible to adjust each individual glass plate up to 40 millimetres toward and away from the perpendicular line.
Consider toughened laminated glass for balustrade applications, its strength and durable properties make it a safe and secure option. It is often preferred in balustrades applications where glass breakage could otherwise result in falling glass. Toughened laminated glass features a strengthening interlayer within the glass panes which helps to keep the structure of the glass in-tact should it be smashed by impact or compromised. Toughened glass breaks into tiny pieces rather than large shards and the lamination layer retains the small pieces, reducing the potential for causing serious injury.
Gary Dean, Sales Director, Comments;
“As with any enquiry we receive, whether for a Juliet balcony or balustrade solution, we are happy to advise and work with the client to ensure the correct solution is specified. Our clients are generally well informed on balustrade specification; however, we are often asked more detailed questions about loads or application suitability …which is an aspect of our service that we enjoy helping out with! We continue to resource our Technical support teams and have added more experienced staff into this team”
Key consideration: UK Building Regulations; glass balustrades
The main purpose of a glass balustrade is to provide a protective barrier to shield against a change in floor level or a drop. For residential buildings (single and multi-occupancy), a glass balustrade is required when the difference in floor level is great than 600mm. For non-residential buildings, the criteria is when the floor level change is more than 380mm or on staircases with more than two levels.
Refer to UK Building Regulations - Approved Document K for the Protection from Falling, Collision and Impact, and BS 6180:2011 Issued by the British Standards Institution (BSI) specify a code of practice for protective barriers in and around buildings, which is well documented in ONLEVEL’s information and testing materials.
Regulations require the glass balustrade to be a certain height in order to provide adequate protection. Glass balustrades in external areas (e.g. balconies, external staircases) require a height of 1100mm from finished floor level. Whilst balustrades in internal areas (e.g. staircases, mezzanine floors, ramps) require a height of 900mm, as a minimum.
One of the most significant considerations for specifying glass balustrades relates to the load bearings and requirements, which determine forces applied to the barrier without being compromised or penetrated. There are three main load types to consider – uniformly distributed load (UDL), line load, and concentrated load.
Always seek specialist advice when determining the correct load factors for your glass balustrade installation.
ONLEVEL are the innovation specialist for Juliet balcony systems, glass clamps, and high-quality balustrade profiles in all shapes and sizes. Providing aesthetical pleasing, safe, tested, independently certified, highly durable balustrades for living or work spaces.
ONLEVEL supply certified dry-glaze frameless glass balustrade systems in 0.75kN, 1.5kN and 3kN performance standards, and Juliet Balcony solutions up to 3m spans - with unique, patented, fast installation solutions. Additionally, ONLEVEL supply glass clamps, structural glass point-fixings, Stainless Steel, Aluminium and Wooden handrails, Fischer, Wurth and Hilti fixings and accessories such as stainless-steel cleaner, adhesive and glass cleaner.