A very popular option for homes, gardens, offices and many other spaces. Their minimal design and transparent finish help to maximise the amount of light in the area, and they don’t block out any views like other materials can do. There is no doubt that a glass balustrade can be a stylish and practical addition to any property. One of the biggest concerns that homeowners have about them and other glass fixings is safety. Glass is generally considered a fragile material, and many people are worried that glass balustrades could shatter easily and pose a serious safety risk.
The truth is, they’re extremely safe and follow many safety regulations for both their design and manufacturing. In this article, we’re looking into exactly what makes every type of glass balustrade so safe, and how they can be a great addition to your property.
What Type of Glass Is Used in Balustrades?
The type of glass that is used to is one of the most critical factors when it comes to safety. Another very important consideration is the thickness of the glass panel. Regulations state that all glass balustrades must be made from either toughened glass or laminated glass.
Toughened glass is sometimes known as tempered glass, and it is the most common type used in balustrades, barriers and other fixtures. When toughened glass is manufactured, it is exposed to extremely high heats, usually around 700 degrees. It is then rapidly cooled in a process called quenching. This process greatly increases the strength of the glass and locks in tension to the inner core. Glass that has been tempered in this way is very difficult to break, although not completely impossible. If toughened glass does break, it doesn’t splinter in small, sharp pieces, instead it shatters into tiny granular pieces with softer edges. This makes it far safer and easier to clean up.
Laminated glass is the other option for some balustrades. This process involves placing a thin layer of plastic in between layers of glass. If one layer should break, the second glass layer should remain intact.
When it comes to glass thickness, the minimum a balustrade system can be is 10mm, which is a safe choice for most applications. In some cases, can also be created with glass up to 21.5mm thick.
What Height Does a System Need to be?
There are regulations in place which state the specific height they need to be in order to be considered safe. In homes or any residential building, one that is inside must be at least 90cm tall. This includes mezzanine levels, handrails, internal floors, landings and more. For outdoor use, the fixing must be at least 110mm high, for example for rooftops, balconies, decking or external staircases.
Do They Need to Have a Handrail?
Not all balustrades must have a handrail, although depending on the application you are using it for, a handrail might be recommended. If you are having a one with no handrail, there are stringent regulations in place. It is essential that on fixings without a handrail or frame, the balustrade system stays secure, even if part of it happens to fall. This is usually achieved using glass which is both toughened and laminated for ultimate protection.
You Highlighted Safety Regulations Earlier; What Are They?
A balustrade system that uses glass is required to follow various safety regulations which ensure they are completely safe for use in any building. The Building Standard 6180:2011 regulations stipulate the necessary requirements for all types of barriers used in buildings. Here, it defines the type of glass that must be used, the required heights, glass thickness and more. Alongside these building standards, there are also Approved Documents K and M, which set out other regulations for glass balustrades. When the kits follow all of these regulations, then you can be sure they are a perfectly safe option for your property.
Safety Benefits of Glass Balustrades
Many people question the safety of balustrade kits, but the truth is they actually improve the safety in your home or office. When they’re professionally fitted and manufactured in line with all regulations, they’re an excellent safety feature for any property, and really do add that wow factor. Some key safety benefits of a balustrade with glass include:
- Durability and long lasting, unlike other materials such as wood or brick.
- They are transparent for total visibility around stairs and balconies.
- Strong and very difficult to bend or break.
For more information on glass balustrades or to find the right option for your property, contact our team today.