Glass Balcony / Balustrades Frequently Asked Questions
Glass balcony balustrades look very simple but there are a lot of technical details to understand when specifying and installing. Here we answer many of our frequently asked questions to assist you in their specification and installation.
Do you install?
Our systems are designed to be easily installed; however, if you require a full supply and install solution then, depending on the size, scope and location of the project, we do have installation teams and may be able to install your glass balustrade project. We also have a network of registered installers & partners around the country. Please enquire specifically with details of your requirements.
What is your current manufacturing lead time for balustrade orders?
For balustrade orders, our current manufacturing lead times are 30 working-days from sign-off of technical drawings “standard lead time” or, for an additional 10% surcharge, our “fast-track lead time” is currently 18 working-days from signed technical drawings.
Are you the manufacturer? Or selling someone else’s product?
Here at Balconette we manufacture all our glass balustrades and have a large two acre site with over 20,000 square feet of manufacturing, office and warehouse space at our Surrey headquarters. We design the systems in-house and are proud to sell our own products, manufactured by us here in the UK.
We have thousands of delighted customers that have bought directly from us, some have installed themselves, some have used their builder and some have used other experienced tradesmen. It’s really down to what you feel comfortable with. Whichever way you choose we will ensure your project is a success and the balustrade fits and adds the quality and aesthetics that you want for your property.
Do you measure or survey?
We have a very good and streamlined technical process to ensure dimensions are correct and that everything suits and fits as required. In the majority of cases where we ‘supply only’, the customer conducts the survey and this is achieved in liaison with our technical team. If however you require a site survey we can, in most cases, accommodate. Please enquire with our sales team. This will be an additional and paid service.
We certainly do and we have a very big base of professional builders and installers that work with us. If glass balustrades or Juliet balconies are a regular offering of yours, or if you want them to be, then please get in touch with us and we can discuss our various options for regular trade customers.
Yes, the systems are supplied cut to exact sizes and fully fabricated “ready to install”. You will not need to cut or fabricate anything on site as the system will be fully ready to assemble and install.
We supply the screws and accessories that put the balustrade system parts together, but we DO NOT supply the fixings that are used to attach the system to the structure/walls. These fixings need to be matched to suit the building structure/wall construction. We will provide you with the information, sizes and loads the fixings need to meet and these coupled with the construction material will allow you to source the correct fixings. It is of course assumed that the structure has been made and is suitable to carry the required loads and system.
Do you manufacture the balcony structure?
We do not manufacture the Balcony structure; we only manufacture the glass balustrade. Our balustrades will work with almost any balcony structure though.
Our Hybrid® systems (Orbit & Aerofoil) are a composite system utilising both the glass and handrail to take the loads, which makes the whole system a lot lighter and allows the balustrade to span certain lengths without the need for vertical posts.
For Frameless systems can you supply the track before the glass for early installation?
Yes, we can manufacture the structural track and supply this for early installation with the glass to follow later on when site is ready.
For the Hybrid® systems can the primary posts be supplied early?
Yes, this is quite a common request so we hold the steel structural posts in stock. We can supply them for early installation with the full system and glass to follow later on when site is ready.
How do the Hybrid® glass balustrade system posts work?
The Hybrid ® glass balustrade posts are made from two parts. The first is the structural post, which is a galvanised steel tube with a welded baseplate. The second part is the cover post sleeve. This slides all the way over the structural post.
The handrails of all our systems are made from anodised aluminium. Anodised aluminium is the most resistant and durable material that the handrails can be made from and this is the main reason we use this material.
Yes they can! We bend the tracks in house and you can have a curved frameless balustrade made to your design. This includes the supply of curved laminated and toughened 21.5mm glass. We do have a minimum radius, which is a limitation for both the glass and the rails, which is around 1.6m radius (diameter 3.2m). Length wise, there shouldn’t be any problems. Please share your requirements or vision with us and we will see what we can do that best matches what you require.
What is the approximate weight per metre of the system including the glass?
Our Hybrid® systems (Orbit & Aerofoil) at standard height will typically weigh 34-35 kg per linear metre. Our frameless systems (SG12) use 21.5mm laminated and toughened glass and so at standard height will typically weigh 75-80 kg per linear metre.
Yes, our systems are designed to meet all the current regulations and requirements. Each of ours systems will have a structural calculation to show confirmation as a whole and for the individual parts. Our systems have also been rigorously tested, on and off-site. In June 2004, we commissioned independent testing and consulting engineers, Sandberg LLP, to test our systems with regard to compliance to BS 6180:1999 and BS 6399:1996 and here you can see their findings.
Your local authority will require confirmation that your balustrade conforms and is in compliance with BS6180:2011. This can be in the form of structural calculations, load tests or other proof that demonstrates that the balustrading system in question meets the required standards.
Wind Load Assessment & Compliance: The assessment of wind loads is part of the same BS6180:2011 standard, and in some instances wind loads exceed the regular balustrade loads and become the dominant design criterion. This is particularly true of tall balustrades such as privacy screens and of balustrades on tall buildings and in exposed locations. You may be asked to demonstrate that wind loads have been considered and, where they are the dominant design factor, that the balustrading system is designed to the correct wind loads.
Can water drain away under the system’s bottom rail?
Our Hybrid® systems (Orbit & Aerofoil) can have 5mm spacers supplied as part of the system to raise the bottom rail and allow water to run freely underneath the track.
Our most popular colours are Matt Silver anodised and our unique “Royal Chrome” anodised finish. Some of our systems are also available in Bronze and White. We can supply orders in RAL powder coating if the quantity is sufficient.
Despite the name, “stainless” steel requires polishing to keep its appearance, as it does tend to tarnish. Our Royal Chrome finish creates a brushed stainless steel appearance but is made of anodised aluminium and is virtually maintenance free, as well as being considerably more lightweight than steel. We also offer a ten-year warranty on our Royal Chrome finish, even in a marine environment.
How are the handrail corners joined? Are they welded?
Our handrail corners are mechanically joined with a special internal aluminium plate and use our proprietary “Mitre Protection Plates”. We do not recommend or use welding on the corners. Read more about post-less corners.
What thickness of glass do you supply?
Our Hybrid® systems (Orbit & Aerofoil) use 10mm toughened glass and our frameless systems (SG12) use 21.5mm laminated and toughened glass.
Glass panels do not usually exceed 1.2m in width; this is for ease of installation and transportation. The exception to this rule will be the Frameless Juliets which require the panel to span the entire size of the opening.
Glass panels must have a gap between them and must not be touching each other after installation. The space allows for expansion and contraction tolerances.
Can you make irregular angles on balustrades?
Most certainly Yes. Very tight, smaller than 60’ angles, are too small, but are also very rare. Any angle between 60’and 180’ (straight) can be made in increments of 1’. This allows any shape within these parameters to be manufactured to the exact angle and overall shape required and you are not limited to 90’ corners.
How thick should a Glass balcony or Glass railing be?
We get asked alot about Glass balustrade thickness regulations and Building regulations in respect of glass balustrade thickness.
The thickness of the glass on balustrades and balconies is determined by a several factors:
a) The occupancy and use of that area. For example is this a single family dwelling, or a communal area.
b) Wind loading.
c) The type of fixing method or balustrade system, is the glass free standing Frameless Balustrades (i.e. structural or cantilevered systems) or is it an infill panel?
d) Monolithic (single) or laminated (multi layered)?
As a general overview of past applications say for a single family dwelling in a non-extreme location will usually use 10mm toughened glass as infill panels or 21.5mm laminated for structural (Frameless) glass.
What type of glass is used for balustrades?
This depends very much on the usage of the balustrade and the aesthetics required. In terms of thickness of the glass this depends on a few factors like occupancy, wind loading, type of balustrade etc. In terms of colour, opacity and finish, this depends greatly on the architect and the use, for example privacy panels will use opaque glass, for adding colour sometimes tinted or coloured interlayers are used.
There are a great number of choices of glass options, thicknesses and colours. However using Pareto’s 80/20 rule we can state that most balustrades use 10mm toughened thick clear glass when the glass is used as an infill panel and 21.5mm laminated and clear glass when the balustrade is frameless.
Does glass balustrade need a handrail?
Until 2011 the British standard required every balustrade to have a handrail. In 2011 BS6180, the standard that deals with balustrades and barriers, was revised to allow glass only balustrades.
The standard states in clause 8.5.2:
“Where the barrier protects a difference in level greater than 600 mm, a handrail should always be used unless a laminated toughened glass construction is used that would remain in-situ if a panel fails. Continuous fixing should be used for fixing the handrail to the glass, or individual fixings where calculations or tests demonstrate that component failure will not occur.”
And since 2011 the use and implementation of frameless glass balustrades without a handrail has skyrocketed.
Are Glass balustrades or Glass railings safe?
When designed and implemented correctly Glass balustrades are a very safe and enjoyable solution to edge protection. Glass is an extremely strong material both for compression and tensile strength. When toughened (tempered) it becomes four times as strong than regular (annealed) glass for impact.
Glass, being a clear and see-through material, can make some users uneasy and goes against our innate instinct of what you cannot see must not be there. Therefore, sometimes it is good to have a handrail on top of a frameless balustrade, it makes some users more comfortable.
Glass floors also get mixed reactions, despite the makeup of these being at least 3 plies of glass, they tend to make some people uncomfortable and unwilling to stand on this.
What height should a Balustrade or Balcony railings be?
UK standards require external balconies including Juliette balconies, edges of roofs etc to be a minimum height of 1100mm (1.1m) above where a person can stand or step onto.
Internal balustrades that serve a single-family dwelling can be 900mm (0.9m).
Stairs need to be a minimum of 900mm (0.9m) measured vertically form the pitch line. (the sloping line of the nosings of the stairs) see figure 1 below:
There are additional height criteria for certain special use areas such as balcony stands in theatres etc. see Table 1 below:
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