“At last, you can design glass balustrades again”
Since the changes made to the Building Regulations 2010: Approved document B in December 2018, it is no longer possible to design balustrades using laminated glass as a barrier on residential buildings with habitable floors above 18 metres (11 metres often used in Scotland). Some pioneers refused to accept the ban, knowing that they would have a solution. Q-railing is one of those innovators. The specialists in high-grade balustrades have introduced a new glass balustrade plus a glass Juliet balcony. These two currently are the only laminated systems in the market that satisfy the amendments and achieve fire classification BS EN 13501 class A2-s1,d0.
Laminated glass as a barrier was banned due to the combustible nature of traditional glass interlayers, such as PVB, EVA and lonoplast (Sentry) when tested independent from the homogenous laminated pane. Now when specifying for a building’s envelope, only non-combustible materials can be used. Obviously, we all want to build safer buildings, but not being able to work with glass barriers for residential high-rise projects caused much heartache amongst architects/specifiers and clients. Plans that were based on glass benefits such as clean sightlines, wind mitigation, and a general premium feel had to be changed drastically.
Nothing beats glass
The ‘glass ban’ did result in various creative solutions. Q-railing for example added a more traditional system with vertical bars to its range. But none of it could compete with glass. So, the Q-railing team started researching compliant glass alternatives within the design of the glazed balustrade. Darryl Holloway, Architectural Sales Manager at Q-railing UK: ‘We have always prided ourselves in being market leaders in balustrade solutions for the industry, with many kilometres of our systems installed all over the UK and indeed the world. That is why we were determined to be first again and solve this problem for our architects and their clients. And I am proud to say that we have been able to develop two fire rated glass balustrades, one for balconies and one for Juliet balconies.’
Ticking all boxes
The new Q-railing balustrades both are fully compliant to building regulations and guidance documents BS 6180:2011 Barriers in and about buildings – code of practice and the newly introduced BS 8579:2020 Guide to the design of balconies and terraces, which came into effect 31 August 2020. The latter clearly states site lines need to be taken into account along with wind mitigation, when designing balustrades for balconies or terraces. Something only glass can do! And in this case, the glass has to offer even more. Holloway: ‘The fire rated balustrades utilise a very specific laminated glass that achieves the required EN13501: A2-s1,d0 rating. Up to now, nothing like this has been available to the industry for use for balcony balustrades.’
Ready to use
The fire rated glass balustrades have been tested to achieve 0.74kN/m line loads for residential use and have been certified by a UK based UKAS accredited third party testing facility. All relevant declarations of performance are there, and the products have already been supplied on a live project that was given the nod by the local building control for conformance and NHBC to provide warranties.
Based on success
Q-railing based its fire rated glass balustrades on two of its success stories: Easy Glass Prime and Easy Glass View. Holloway: ‘We introduced Easy Glass Prime two years ago. And already the base channel system is world renowned for its simple installation method and red dot award winning adjustable glass fixing innovation. Easy Glass View received much praise as well. Its slender aluminum profiles can be powder coated to match the frame or façade and can be mounted either on the facade, on the reveals or directly to the frame.’
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