The application of glass balustrading is endless and its appeal growing. We ask, is it time to add a balustrade system to your product portfolio?
Glass balustrading is ‘on trend’ and architects are exploiting its use in a wide variety of commercial, retail and domestic applications. Most importantly, with a new generation of easy-installation systems available, the sector provides a new business platform for glass processors and home improvement installation businesses.
“It’s a growing market and an accessible one,” says Dave Broxton. “A new generation of base rail systems have come on line, which are easier to install than traditional post and rail systems, are flexible, aesthetic and can be applied to a wide variety of applications.
“The residential sector in particular represents a great secondary market opportunity for glass processors and home improvement businesses.
“Glass processors can access it through a supply only or supply and fit basis – regardless, it pulls more glass through the line. For home improvement businesses balustrade installation creates an additional revenue stream and one which utilises their core skills set.”
So what do glass processors and home improvement businesses need to know to enter the market? The starting point is a basic understanding of regulatory requirement. “There are two key pieces of legislation”, continues Broxton, “The first is BS 6399-1:1996 ‘Loadings for Buildings’. The second is BS6180:2011 ‘Barriers in and about Buildings – Code of Practice’
“This isn’t particularly onerous regulation, collectively they simply set out standards for line loading – on the principle that balustrades will need to withstand different line loads for different applications, from domestic applications right through to public spaces.”
The measure of line load is made in kilo Newtons (kN) for every metre of length. This will vary based on application and definitions under BS 6399-1:1996 – housing, office and public function.
In a domestic or residential application, this is set at 0.74 (kN) per metre, equating to around 75 kgs of pressure per metre of handrail. “The simple way to imagine this loading is for a line of people, spaced a metre apart and all weighing around twelve stone to apply their full weight against the balustrade,” says Broxton.
He continues: “Traditional systems use a post and rail to achieve the structural strength to meet this kind of line load. New generation of glass balustrade systems exploit the architectural and structural qualities of glass itself to achieve the same loading”, says Broxton.
While supplying an extensive choice of post and rail systems, it’s Bohle’s innovatively engineered EasyMount System, which is likely to have greatest appeal with glass processors and home improvement businesses because of the ease of fit and time saving it delivers on site.
Fully tested to BS6180:2011, the base rail system is available in two formats, the modular EasyMount Fix and flexible EasyMount Vario. Each system is suitable for floor or lateral mounting, supporting fast and easy installation, with the EasyMount Fix accommodating loads of up to 3kN.
Using the same profile as the EasdyMount Fix, the Vario delivers variable glass adjustment via a moveable base shoe. Accommodating glass thickness of 12mm to 31.52mm, the Vario uses a simple sliding movement to allow installers to achieve new precision in panel positioning, which, combined with simple fitting requirements cutsinstallation time by as much as 30 per cent.
The other significant benefit is that this adjustment can be achieved from the balcony side alone, making installation not only safer but lower cost. “If you’re looking at a traditional installation at height, you have got the significant expense associated with access at height, for example the rental of a tower or scaffolding”, says Broxton.
He continues: “The EasyMount Vario can be adjusted from the balcony side, providing really fast alignment of panels whilst improving safety and reducing costly man hours on site.”
The EasyMount Fix and EasyMount Vario are built around the same base rail, which can be supplied as raw profile, anodised or in aluminium and stainless steel-effect finishes. The Fix and Vario also come with a choice of hand rail and finishing options, with outdoor systems featuring drainage channels.
“The use of glass in a structural and architectural application is a real growth area. We’re seeing it in offices, public spaces but also increasing in domestic and residential design. The addition for home improvement companies is seamless and for glass processors it creates opportunities in supply or supply and fit.
“The EasyMount Fix and Vario support entry to these markets but particularly the residential market, delivering significant pull-through of product for glass processors and a potential new source of profitable revenue from home improvement companies.”
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