Overcoming the Practical Issues in the Development of Structural Glass Balustrades

  • Elite Balustrade
  • 7 years ago

It seems as though no modern building is complete these days without a staircase donned with a beautiful, sparkling glass balustrade. The attraction is easy to understand. They are not only stunning to look at, but they also cost significantly less than their wooden counterparts, and they are relatively easy to maintain. There are, however, some practical difficulties that need to be overcome before you can safely erect a glass balustrade in a new home or office.

All new buildings and those that are to undergo any major refurbishment work in the UK must meet the necessary requirements for the incorporation of glazed stairs, barriers and ramps into their design. These regulations vary depending upon what part of the United Kingdom the building is being developed in. Structures in England and Wales need to adhere to the 1991 Building Regulations, whereas in Scotland it is The Building Standards (Scotland) 1990 and in Northern Ireland The Building Regulations Northern Ireland 1994. While all of these documents lay out their requirements in varying ways, the overall objective is the same. All of them point to BS 6180:1982 ‘Code of practice for protective barriers in and around buildings’ for more in depth information with regards to design. It is worth stating that there was also a revision of this document in 1995.

So, what are the main problems or difficulties outlined within these documents? Naturally the issues that need to be addressed are generally regarding safety.  Any new glass balustrade must be designed in such a way that the risk of injury to the public is minimised.

As with most health and safety legislation a lot of what you will find in BS 6180 is really common sense. The design should lower the risk of slipping, falling, rolling or sliding through the gaps. This is something that you would naturally incorporate anyway, but there are some specifics that you need to adhere to. For instance, if the area in question is to be frequently used by children under 5 years of age the barrier must be designed in such a way that a sphere of 100mm will not be able to pass through it. This will ensure that any young child will not be able to fall through the structure.

All balustrades and barriers must be built to the minimum specified height as stipulated in BS 6180. When using glass for barriers and balustrades, special attention must be placed upon the materials specification for support and loadings. Non-structural glass barriers with infill panels that are held together with glass clamps require three design loadings to be acknowledged as do full height barriers, whereas free standing glass protective barriers have four.

Once you have taken into account all of the regulations and incorporated them into your design the build itself should be plain sailing, leaving you to enjoy the view that a glass balustrade offers.