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Glass Balustrade safety regulations

Tuesday 20th February, 2018

Glass balustrades are an excellent addition to any home. Stylish and elegant, they are the perfect decorative feature for interior landings, staircases, balconies, mezzanine floors, high walkways and patios.

However, if you are intending to use balustrades in your home, they will need to be reliably sturdy and easily able to withstand the pressures of constant use. For this reason, there are strict and established regulations in place in the UK concerning the properties of glass balustrades.

In general, regulations stipulate that all glass balustrades should be strong, tough and durable, to minimise any risk of collapse. If you’d like to learn about these regulations in more detail, click here to read the Government’s own report.

Because of its natural rigidity, glass can be an ideal material for use in balustrades, and can often be paired with wood, stainless steel or aluminium for a sleek and smart look. However, glass still needs to be treated carefully to make sure that it meets regulatory standards:

Height Regulations

Regulations state that the minimum height requirement for all glass balustrades should be 0.9m from the point that it is stood on, up to the height of the handrail. Alternatively, if you intend to install a glass balustrade on the exterior of your building, the minimum height to the handrail must be 1.1m high. The reason for this is fairly self-explanatory – it is principally to help protect everyone – adventurous adults, children and animals – from accidentally falling over the edge!

Handrails

For your particular balustrade design, you may prefer to opt for a sleek look without a handrail. However, there are strict regulations concerning this too, so to check if this is possible, take a look at BS6180:2011 ‘Barriers in and about buildings - Code of practice’ in relation to balcony railings and balustrades in the UK.

Usually, a handrail is always required for a balustrade, but in section 8.5.2 of the above document, it does state that handrails can sometimes be avoided if the glass is laminated and toughened sufficiently enough for the glass panel to remain firmly in place even if a portion of the laminated glass is caused to fail at any point. If you are considering skipping handrails, though, you must make absolutely sure that the glass you choose is fully toughened and laminated, and that you have followed all the regulations thoroughly to ensure that the balustrade will be 100% safe for use.

Loading Requirements

Regulations state that deflection caused by a heavy load must never exceed 25mm. For this reason, the material you source from your glass suppliers needs to be extremely strong and tough, to cope with whatever life may throw at it!

When planning the thickness and style of your particular balustrade, there are three load requirements which you will need to comply with: Horizontal loading on the handrail, vertical loading on the handrail and loading on the infill.

As a rule of thumb to follow, domestic glass balustrades need to withstand 0.74 kN/m for every metre of the balustrade. Tempered or laminated glass infills must also measure a minimum of 10mm in thickness.

Laminated glass is always strong, but its infill must be tested for both distributed load and point load, making absolutely sure that the infill in the centre of the laminated panel can endure evenly distributed weight as well as concentrated pressure on one small point.

Toughened and Laminated Glass

Peterlee Glass are experienced glass suppliers providing both toughened and laminated glass for domestic customers across the UK.

We have the skills and knowledge in-house to be able to provide you with exactly the right materials for your home project. So, if you would like to find out further about glass balustrades and how you can install them safely, please do get in touch. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss your ideas with you and work out the best route forward for your particular project.

Send us a message now or call us today on 0191 586 3113.

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