Whatever the construction or alteration project you are undertaking, you are never completely free to build according to your fancy. Designs and plans have to take into account various regulations, and it is often a case of striking a balance between compliance and your original aesthetic vision for a glazed partition.
Fire regulations are amongst the most important, and stringent, in construction. Setting out first and foremost rules on building materials which place strict controls on the use of flammables, they also cover layout and enclosure to ensure buildings restrict rather than encourage the spread of fire.
This latter point poses a key challenge for interior designers and architects, especially those looking to create free-flowing open spaces in modern commercial premises. The requirement to partition and enclose as part of fire safety protocols can seem to scupper the open-plan approach.
There is, however, a compromise solution – fire-rated glazed partitions. Using fire-retardant glass to create walls and partitions can satisfy both the demands of fire regulations, and create a bright, modern space which retains a light, open feel.
Fire-protective vs fire-resistive
Fire-rated glazed partitions are available in two forms – fire protective and fire resistive. Both types involve having glass treated or reinforced in some way to make it resistant to heat and flame. Typical methods include reinforcing glass with wire, special forms of tempering or glass ceramic techniques.
The difference is in the extent of the protection offered. Fire-protective glazing is suitable for stopping the spread of flames and smoke, but will have ratings for the amount of time it is considered effective for and over what size area. These are reflected in restrictions placed on its use in the fire codes.
Fire-resistive glazed partitions are suitable for use when the regulations require ‘enclosed protection’. They stop the spread of heat as well as being flame resistant, and typically involve a multi-laminate structure where layers of reinforced glass are mixed with layers of non-conductive materials.
Flexible, easy installation of a glazed partition
Compared to other materials rated as suitable for the creation of fire walls and partitions, fire-rated glazing is quick to install and can be flexibly adapted to suit a wide range of designs.
As with all glass building products, glazed partitions can be bought in pre-cut panels for rapid, convenient installation. But then if you do have a particular feature in mind, or your space has an irregular shape, you can also get fire-rated glass cut to order to suit your needs.
This makes installing glazed partitions much easier than building walls out of fire-rated bricks, board or other materials. Once you have the design measurements and the pieces ordered, it is simply a case of piecing them together like a jigsaw.
Glazed partitions are also less intrusive on the footprint of your premises – they are much thinner than, say, brick, and so take up less space. That is coupled with the fact that, made out of glass, they maintain open lines of sight and allow the free flow of light around your space. Partitioned areas can retain the feel of being part of the wider floor space, while still meeting the requirements of building regulations.
Glass and Stainless have experience working with both fire protective and fire resistive glazed partitions. Contact us today to discuss your bespoke glass specification.