Even up until a few years ago, if you wanted to use fire-rated glass in a balustrade or fencing, the options were very limited. The only product on the market that was able to pass any fire-rating tests was wired glass; but its impact resistance levels was relatively weak; this meant, it could only be used in areas where the risk of breakage was low or in smaller panes; It wasn’t suitable for balustrade installations especially in commercial settings where the risk of breakage was distinctly higher.
However, glass manufacturing technology has advanced in a big way over the last decade or so and the fire glass market has grown by leaps and bounds. Wired glass continues to be used in certain settings; but now there is a wide range of options of using specially tempered fire glass, intumescent laminated fire glass and ceramic fire glass.
Is wired fire glass safe for use in balustrades?
Wired glass is still quite commonly used in institutions like factories, offices and schools. It is a very cost-effective product & can also be a very useful product in certain applications. However, as mentioned earlier this glass has its limitations. While it is able to stop the spread of smoke and flames, it doesn’t provide any insulation against heat radiation.
The other downside is that fire weakens the wire within the glass, making it more susceptible to accidental damage. The thin wire that’s used in this glass can also be quite weak which means the wire itself becomes the potential cause of injuries; and that only aggravates the risk broken glass poses.
This is why wired fire-rated glass isn’t suitable for settings in which safety glass is needed. Since this glass is thin it isn’t suitable for balustrade installations. Wired glass also has a very ‘institutional’ appearance, and despite it being a more cost-effective option, most interior designers and architects don’t recommend the use of this glass either in any features including balustrades; and modern clear fire glass panels are preferred both in residential and commercial settings.
Clear fire glass balustrade options
The other three options, intumescent laminated fire glass, ceramic fire glass and tempered fire glass, offer clear-glass options for fire-rated balustrade systems.
These products meet safety glass requirements; which makes them safe for use at any height in fire-resistant glass balustrades. There are numerous factors to consider when choosing between these three.
#1 Tempered fire glass
This is a relatively cost-effective option, which also makes it more appealing at first glance. But while tempered glass is extremely resistant to heat, when exposed to cold water, the sudden temperature change temperature can cause it to shatter and this limits its application. It has a fire rating of up to 20 minutes.
#2 Ceramic fire glass
This is a very versatile and functional product. It can easily handle 425°C changes in the temperature, and can be mirrored, tinted, or clear; this glass can have a fire rating of up to 180 minutes. The glass is highly durable and offers excellent heat-resistance but can be prohibitively expensive.
#3 Intumescent laminated fire glass
This laminated glass has clear intumescent interlayers that in the event of any fire, expand and transform into an opaque, rigid, heat-absorbing fire shield. Some variants of this glass have fire ratings of up to 120 minutes for insulation as well as integrity.
While such high fire-rated glass isn’t really required in most settings, some clients do opt for it especially in industrial and commercial applications. We at Quantum Frameless Glass can provide excellent, customised and cost-effective structural glass balustrade and fencing solutions for residential and commercial spaces. For any more information about our glass balustrades, call us at this number – 1300 282 248. You can also contact us using this online form. and we will revert quickly.
Thanks for reading,
Quantum Frameless Glass Team
1300 282 248