What is laminated glass?

Laminated glass is constructed using a simple sandwich style structure. Two pieces of glass in a range of thicknesses, have a semi structural or structural Resin, PVB, EVA or SGP interlayer sandwiched between them. This produces a thicker and heavier glass panel.

The distinctive feature of laminated glass is the way in which it breaks. If the outer layer of glass is broken in anyway, the plastic interlayer acts like an adhesive, holding everything together and keeping the panel stable. Ultimately, this prevents any holes developing within the glass or large shards flying off. Instead, you will simply see a spider web pattern on the surface. Should any bits break off under repeated pressure, they tend to be far smaller and blunter than those from a standard glass break. This explains why laminated glass is often referred to as safety glass.

The Advantages of Laminated Glass

Given that it is difficult to smash a hole through laminated glass, it is an excellent choice for burglary prevention. It is widely used in car windscreens and shop front windows but is suitable for any commercial or domestic environment. Should a burglar put in the necessary hard effort to break through the glass, the noise they make in doing so will certainly alert you!

Equally, laminated glass will offer you a degree of protection against the natural elements e.g. severe thunderstorm.  If you decide to use it extensively in your windows and doors, please do ensure that there is an alternative emergency exit route as you will struggle to easily smash your way out through the glass.

Also on the point of safety, we will always use laminated glass in our frameless glass balustrades. Should the first pane fail in anyway, the 2nd pane will remain intact and continue to protect anyone on the stairs or balcony.

Thanks to the thicker width of a laminated glass panel, it holds a few more advantages over a standard glass piece. These include both better insulation and great sound-deadening qualities. Furthermore, the plastic interlayer helps to block UV radiation, vastly reducing the amount of time before your curtains and other soft furnishings begin to fade.  Whilst laminated glass is a costlier investment than the standard offerings, it is less likely to need replacing thanks to its strengthening qualities.

Here at Glass and Stainless UK, we offer laminated glass as part of our renowned bespoke glass service. Get in touch to discuss your requirements and situation in greater detail.

Using Bespoke Glass In The Home

Bespoke glass is a wonderfully versatile material that can be used in every room of the house. Available in a wide range of colours, shapes and thicknesses, it is ideal for opening up rooms without comprising on aesthetics. Bespoke glass is made with your safety in mind, so you can feel confident in using it in a family home.

Bespoke Glass Splashbacks

Glass splashbacks are a striking yet practical feature, perfect for adding a premium look to any kitchen. Unlike traditional tiles, glass splashbacks don’t have any hard to clean, easy to stain grout. Instead, it comes in one custom cut piece that can be wiped down in a matter of minutes. Given that it is one singular piece, a glass splashback is also easier to both install and replace than a tiled section. Available in a wide variety of eye-catching colours and shapes, the smooth surface reflects light brilliantly, making a glass splashback the ideal choice for smaller, darker kitchens.

Bespoke Glass Wardrobe Mirrors

Wardrobes are an essential piece of bedroom furniture but they do have tendency to take up space and look imposing. Affixing a bespoke glass mirror to the doors is an excellent way of introducing a greater sense of space to a room. As well as adding depth the glass surface also helps to reflect light, both natural and artificial, around the room.

Bespoke Glass Balustrades

Frameless glass balustrades are a great way to help light flow through the different levels of your house. Sleek and modern looking, they can be personalised with sandblasted designs, intricate etched patterns or striking colours. Thanks to the wondrous versatility of glass, you could even add some curved pieces to create a beautiful flowing line. Without a wooden frame, this is a balustrade that won’t rot over time.

Bespoke Glass Shower Screens

Combined with stainless steel supports, a glass shower screen can a high-quality sharpness to any bathroom, traditional or modern. Eminently practical, glass shower screens are far more long-lasting and easier to clean than a plastic sheet. If privacy is a concern, frosted glass versions are available.

Here at Glass and Stainless UK, we can cut bespoke glass to suit most needs, in a wide range of thicknesses and glass types. Get in touch today to discuss your requirements further.

Using A Structural Glass Floor To Add Light

An increasingly common sight on the likes of Grand Designs, structural glass floor panels are an innovative way of utilising glass for multiple purposes simultaneously. Like standard glass, these panels allow light to flow freely from one space to another whilst also allowing you to continue standing on the separating surface. They are ideal for any subterranean rooms or other spaces without windows.

Obviously, the biggest advantage of having a structural glass floor is that you can walk all over it, and sometimes even drive! This means that it can be used to form a bridge, an accessible roof light, a balcony or even just a quirky design feature.

How To Support A Structural Glass Floor

For large spaces, the glass panels can be supported by either glass or steel beams. Similar to a structural glass floor, a glass beam is created by layering and laminating sheets of toughened glass, producing a robust yet transparent beam capable of supporting other glass. Naturally, the thickness of the beam varies in accordance with the weight it is expected to bear. For sensitive surroundings such as listed buildings, glass beams are ideal as their transparency makes them less intrusive.

For both a glass floor and beam, we would recommend choosing a product made from low iron glass. To produce these features thick layers of glass are required and with standard glass this results in a distinctive green tint. With low iron content glass, however, you do not get this effect and the glass remains clear.

Using A Structural Glass Floor Outside

Structural glass floors are great for the garden where they can act as skylights to rooms hidden below. If you do plan on installing some panels outside, we would recommend that you choose an anti-slip surface option. These take numerous forms. For example, you can sandblast either the entire panel or a selected area, forming a semi-opaque surface that will still allow light to pass through. Alternatively, you can get dots etched onto the surface, giving a more transparent finish. For an added safety feature, why not install some LED lighting along the edges?

To truly help your new glass flooring stand out, you can always add a bold pop of colour. By simply adding a coloured pigment to one of the glass interlays, we can easily create the impression of coloured glass. Another brilliant interior design trick is to place a glass floor over a secret compartment, rather than an entire room. You could fill the exposed space with sand or wine bottles or anything else that strikes your fancy. Let your imagination run wild!

Here at Glass and Stainless UK, we offer a range of bespoke structural glass floors. Get in touch to learn how they could help to open up your home.

Top Tips for Choosing Your Perfect Sliding Doors

From patios to closets, pantries to bathrooms, sliding doors have a wide range of uses in and around the home. Available in just about every material imaginable, from glass and wood to thin paper screens, sliding doors offer a practical solution when space is a factor in entrance ways.

So what should you look out for when choosing a sliding door? Here are some helpful tips for getting started and making the right choice for your needs.

Match the door type to purpose

There are a number of different types of sliding door available, but not all are suitable for every purpose. Bypass doors, for example, are affordable and easy to install, but as they often only run on a single track, they are not secure and are only really suitable for things like wardrobes and interior partitions.

If you want a sliding door on the exterior of your home, for example to open onto a patio, you will need something sturdier. Often known as Arcadia doors after a prominent early manufacturer, the standard patio door operates on top and bottom tracks, all housed in a fully enclosed unit. As glass is the standard material for such doors, the frame has to be strong enough to hold the weight.

Factor in available space

One of the key benefits of sliding doors is that they save space compared to swing doors, as their opening is not obstructed by fixtures and fittings. But the size of the cavity into which you want to install the doors is a key determining factor in the type and design you choose. In an ideal world, everyone would choose the largest space available, especially for patio doors when you want to let in as much light as possible.

If you do have the available space, four panel French sliding doors, with two panels sliding open from the middle, are a highly sought after solution. But even you lack the space for a convention two panel patio door, don’t give up on the sliding option. Pocket doors, where the open door is housed in the wall cavity, are a great option for squeezing in single panel sliding doors.

Choose frame material carefully

Common frame materials for sliding doors include vinyl, fibreglass, aluminium, stainless steel and wood. For use outdoors, aluminium or stainless steel frames are the most durable and weather resistant, but fibreglass is generally the most energy efficient. Vinyl is popular because it is cost effective, but it takes up a lot more space than metal frames. Make your decision as a best fit between cost, location, space and how much maintenance you want to be doing.

Pick the right glass

Even though one of the key reasons for wanting glass sliding patio doors is to increase the amount of light coming into your home, you should bear in mind that too much sunlight is not always a good thing. Especially if an external door gets lots of direct sunlight, you could be at risk of damaging internal furnishings through UV fading, or even over heating a room. Low-E glass is specially treated to reduce the amount of damaging UV radiation which comes in, although the amount of actual light is not reduced. And as Low-E glass also blocks infrared heat emissions, it helps improve thermal efficiency in cold weather.

Modern Touch for Premiership Player’s Pile

The Cheshire countryside surrounding our headquarters in Congleton is renowned for its rolling farmland, its dairy herds and its impressive country piles. The latter attracts many a high roller from the major urban conurbations to our north and south, looking for a spot of tranquillity and solitude away from the hustle and bustle.

If we mentioned the popularity of these typical Cheshire country mansions amongst Premier League footballers, you would get a flavour of who tends to dip their toes in the property market around here. And with that comes a collision of styles, as the young, rich and famous bring new tastes and preferences to these traditional old homes.

And that is where Glass & Stainless is often asked to step in, as was the case with a recent client of ours. A Premier League footballer with nearby Stoke City, he owned a beautiful old home in a typically picturesque East Cheshire hamlet.

Balcony Upgrade

We were brought in to install a new balcony balustrade overlooking the garden. As you can see from the pictures, the balcony was in fact the roof of a ground floor annex converted into an outdoor seating space. It overlooked a very well maintained garden, with a perfectly manicured lawn, a stone patio and neat arrangements of shrubs and hanging baskets.

The first purpose for the installation was to replace an old wrought iron balustrade which had served as the balcony rail. Over the years, time and weather had taken its toll on it, and the balustrade fittings had worked loose, making the whole balcony unsafe.

At the same time, the whole property was undergoing widespread modernisation, and the client wanted the refurbished balcony to reflect the new style.

We recommended a frameless glass balustrade, and designed a bespoke product for the purpose –  21.52mm toughened laminated glass panels with a top mounted base channel and custom glass adaptors. For the installation, we were able to make use of an existing low stone rise on the edge of the balcony area, hence the custom fixings.

Overall, the choice of a frameless balustrade system served three purposes. From a safety point of view, the toughened laminate glass panels are as strong and durable as any wrought iron fencing, with the added bonus that they are completely weather resistant and will not deteriorate in condition over time. That was reinforced by using 316 grade stainless fixings, which do not corrode, so the all important joins to the wall will stay strong and safe for years to come.

Secondly, the choice of a frameless balustrade was to give completely unrestricted views. Wherever you sit on the balcony, you get a full panoramic view over the whole garden. And as it is in a perfect location for catching the sun, you also don’t get any shadows from balustrade posts.

Finally, as well as the practical benefits, a frameless glass balustrade gives the perfect contemporary touch to a modernisation project, but without risking a clash with the traditional architecture. As you can see from the pictures, the plain glass panels, with minimal metal work, are stylish yet understated, fitting in well with the original brick and stone work, as well as the timber floor of the balcony.

Bringing the Traditional and the Contemporary Together

One of the great pleasures of working in interior design is the creative freedom you have to take different elements – different styles, different materials, different techniques – and make something new and unique from them.

new build with glass and stainless balustrades

One recent project we were commissioned to work on offered a great example of how this can often involve combining elements of the traditional with the contemporary. The client in question owned a large detached property built with a nod to the past – the stone arch detail around the front door, for example – but also with plenty of contemporary features, such as the large floor to roof feature window dominating the front elevation.

Glass and Stainless was contracted to carry on this theme with three installations, namely a staircase, a balcony and a Juliet balcony.bespoke oak and glass staircasebespoke oak and glass staircase

Although we specialise in glass and stainless steel, our aim is always to deliver the right solution for each individual project we work on, regardless of the style or the materials we use. So after discussions with the client, it was clear they had something specific in mind for the staircase – a cutting edge ‘floating’ installation in glass balustrades, but instead of stainless steel posts, they requested a more traditional oak wood, to match the wood flooring already in place.

A floating staircase is a wonderful way to leave space open around a stairwell installation, as there is no boxing off of the space underneath the boards. In this case, with three rises involved, the ‘no supports’ floating look achieved a stunning effect, creating a real visual feature for the space.

To complement this, we also chose a ‘no newels’ design, with no posts between the glass balustrade panels. This added to the sense of light and space created by the floating design, providing clear lines of sight through much of the staircase. That left the treads, riser and handrail to be constructed out of solid oak, finished in Osmo white oil to match the flooring – a perfect combination of tradition and cutting edge.

Glass Features

Elsewhere on the project, we decided to compliment the modernistic look of the property’s exterior by pairing a frameless glass balcony with the feature window. This installation of a single 21.52mm toughened laminated glass panel straight onto the available stonework to create a balcony balustrade created a simple yet striking effect, adding to the overall aesthetic impact of the glass used in the feature window.

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frameless glass balcony

Finally, we installed a 316 grade stainless steel Juliet balcony with 12mm toughened glass infills. In this case, the stainless steel was required to create the balustrade frame for the Juliet balcony. As there was no other wood on the exterior of the building, stainless steel felt a better choice than oak, and offers much greater durability, especially the ‘marine grade’ low corrosion 316 steel we use as standard on our external installations.

Who Let The Dogs Out? Not This Top Sports Personality…

Whether inside the home or out, glass and stainless steel installations command huge appeal as the epitome of cutting edge style – as you can tell from the celebrity names on our client list.

Garden Glass and Stainless Balustrades

From our headquarters in south east Cheshire, Glass and Stainless is fortunate to be within easy reach of Liverpool, Manchester and, closest by, Stoke-on-Trent, three large urban centres with their own vibrant cultural and, in particular, sporting scenes.

With five Premier League football clubs on its doorstep, Cheshire is known as the playground of many a millionaire footballer. And looking for the very best in contemporary design for their homes, we get our fair share coming to us for our bespoke glass and stainless solutions.

One example was a former Premier League player and now a well known TV and radio pundit who came to us looking for a balustrade system for his garden. He approached us because he wanted to secure his garden so his dogs could not escape, while creating something stylish and attractive.

Clear Views

The area in question had an existing white wall at the bottom of some steps leading through the garden, with a paved and tarmaced area beyond. The wall was too low to keep his dogs in as they could easily leap over it.

Garden balustrades to keep the dogs out

We explained to the client that the benefit of a glass and stainless steel balustrade was that it would continue to provide clear views of the garden with very little obstruction. As you can see from the pictures, the garden contains plenty of ornate and attractive shrubbery surrounding a well kept lawn, so it was desirable to keep the views of these open.

For the structure of the balustrade, we chose a 316 stainless steel post and clamp design. Also known as marine grade steel, 316 stainless is highly resistant to corrosion, so is ideal for use outdoors, maintaining a bright sheen for years on end without dulling.

The post and clamp system is a practical, all-purpose solution for holding the balustrades together. The posts act as the main support, with attached stainless steel clamps holding the glass panels in place whilst also distributing the weight load evenly. In this case, as the balustrade was not being installed around a walkway or at a height where people might want to lean on the top of it, there was no need to include a handrail.

Safety First

For the panels, we opted for 10mm toughened glass infills. Whenever glass is used in a balustrade system, safety is always high on the list of priorities. In this case, being installed in the garden, we needed to ensure there was no risk of the panes cracking or shattering if, say, a branch from a tree broke off and hit them, or worse, if one of the pet dogs jumped at them and hit them hard.

Clear glass and balustrades

Toughened glass is a popular type of safety glass which uses a process known as tempering to strengthen and alter how it behaves when put under stress. At 10mm thick, the panels are very unlikely to shatter anyway, but after tempering, if they ever did break, they would crumble into granular chunks, posing much less risk of injury than the sharp shards left by normal glass.

Updating Your Bathroom With Glass Shower Screens

Revamping a bathroom is one of those jobs people love to put off. Fitting a new bathroom suite can be expensive and, with all the plumbing to think about, tends to be disruptive and awkward – the kind of job you usually have to get a professional in to do.

However, there is a simpler, cheaper way. If you don’t fancy taking on the job of a full refit, you can always work with what you already have and give your bathroom a bright, sparkling new lease of life with new glass shower panels.

If you have a shower over the bath and still use a shower curtain, glass panels are the perfect upgrade. Glass shower screens are inexpensive, easy to fit and do a much better job preventing splashing out of the bath. Alternatively, if you already have a bath or shower cubicle with glass fittings and they are starting to look a little mildewed and grimy, a new glass shower screen can refresh the whole room..

Glass Fronted Shower Cubicles

If you want to do something which will have more of an impact on your bathroom without having to rip everything out and starting again, installing a shower cubicle is an ideal halfway house. A shower cubicle with a glass door and screen adds a whole new dimension to a bathroom, and of course is a great space saving option for en suites or if you want to add a wet room elsewhere in your home.

When building a shower cubicle, it is important to match the position and shape to the type of screen door you choose. The main options are sliding doors, bi-fold and pivot. Sliding glass shower doors are ideal when you have room for two adjacent glass panels on the front of your cubicle and want access to be from the front.

Pivot doors require space to open out without hitting any obstacles, but can be used either on larger two panel double doors or in a smaller corner installation with just a single panel on each side of the cubicle. Similarly, bi-fold doors are ideal for smaller spaces, especially if there is not the room for a pivot door to swing out.

Your Bathroom, Your Style

Glass is a very flexible material, and cubicles can be configured from glass panels in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Bespoke glass shower screens can be made to measure to suit any dimensions, with a wide range of options for frosting, stencilling or colour to give your screen your own look.

You can also choose whether to opt for shower screens with frames or for frameless glass shower doors. Frameless glass shower screens add their own unique edge to the design, providing a ‘floating’ or ‘invisible’ look which gives a greater sense of space and light.

Finally, if you are a fan of the stylish effect glass can give to your bathroom, there is no need to stop with shower screens. Glass bathroom doors, frosted for privacy, are a popular option for adding a modern touch to your overall bathroom design, allowing more natural light in.

The Uses and Benefits of Glass Partitions

Glass has several properties which make it highly valued as a material for interior design. Low cost, completely transparent and strong enough to form a firm barrier, glass is perfect when you want to close off an area without shutting out light and restricting lines of sight.

Consider windows. Glass is used in 99.9 per cent of windows because it lets light in, it allows us to see out, it forms a barrier to shut us in from the elements, and it does not break the bank either. A perfect match of material to purpose.

The same applies to glass partitions. Glass partitions are basically internal glass walls used to define, close off and demarcate spaces. They are used when you want to differentiate between different areas without shutting in areas in completely.

Uses of Glass Partition Walls

Glazed partitions are a common feature of interior design for offices, commercial premises and public buildings. They are commonly used to:

  • Create distinct but open work areas or ‘pods’ to give a sense of definition and differentiation to spaces without affecting the ‘open plan’ feel of an office.
  • Enclose separate areas completely without restricting light and lines of sight.
  • Form parts of door and entrance ways.
  • Create a special design feature in an office.

Benefits of Glass

Interior glass walls have the following advantages which make them such a popular choice amongst commercial interior designers:

  • Light: Closing off distinct areas with solid materials can quickly make parts of an office gloomy and uninviting. Glass wall partitions allow natural light to flow freely throughout the premises, reducing on lighting bills and helping to boost staff morale.
  • Sight: One of the key reasons open plan offices became popular was that company bosses started to believe that staff would feel more part of a team, and work more productively as a result, if everyone could see one another. Glass achieves the same effect while still offering everyone their own space, and because lines of sight are open, the work environment feels more roomy and less imposing.
  • Sound insulation: One of the drawbacks of the open plan office model is noise – with everyone sharing the same open space, volume can be a problem, and some people just cannot work effectively with the distraction. Glass solves that problem by allowing enclosed, quiet spaces to be created without boxing people in completely.
  • Flexibility: Because glass office partitions are made in a modular fashion out of single glass panels, it is very easy to create different shaped spaces and configure the partitions in different ways.
  • Cost: Glass is a readily available and cost effective material. It is also very easy to install and take down, saving considerably on building costs, especially when it comes to redesigning a space.

Which Handrail System Should I Be Using?

Nowadays, whatever purpose you are installing a balustrade system for, you are spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing a handrail system to go with it.

Different materials, different styles, different designs, different attachment methods and different places to locate the rail mean the options quickly multiply.

Handrails provide the finishing touch to a balustrade system and can have a major influence over the final look. So how should you go about navigating this sea of choice and make sure you pick the right solution to top off your project?

Here are our essential tips for choosing the perfect railing system for you.

Check the Building Codes and Regulations

Although handrails play a key role in the overall design of your balustrades, it is important to note that first and foremost they are a safety feature. This means that the installation of railings is governed by building regulations, which will form your first point of guidance on what you can and cannot install. Depending on where the balustrade system is and what it is being used for, regulations will provide guidance on suitable materials, installation methods, and specifications for the railing parts.

Factor in Location

Where the handrail is being installed will play a big factor in the choices you make, part of which will be covered by building regulations. For example, the handrail you use on a staircase has a different purpose to that installed around a patio or decked area – a staircase handrail is used practically to support people as they go up and down the flights, whereas decking railings are more likely to be purely decorative. This will influence things like the size of the rail, and a staircase handrail should fit into a person’s hand comfortably, whereas around a patio it could be much thicker.

Similarly, location will influence choice of materials. A wooden rail on an outdoor staircase is going to be prone to weathering and deterioration, risking users getting splinters when they run their hands over it. In such cases, you would be better off with a stainless steel handrail, which is smooth and weather resistant.

Consider Purpose

This was touched upon above considering the difference between a staircase and decking rail. This will also influence where you locate a handrail on the balustrade, and how to attach it. With a decking or patio handrail system, there is not so much of an emphasis on providing support for people as the walk. A handrail on top of the balustrade may therefore be most suitable, perhaps providing a platform to lean on.

On staircases, on the other hand, the handrail is very much there for support and safety. It must be at a height for all users to be able to grasp it, especially children, so being mounted on the side of the balustrade or on a supporting wall may be more suitable. On particularly steep staircases, handrails on both sides may be a good option.

Stay Consistent with Style

Once the practical considerations of safety, location and use have been dealt with, then you can focus on choosing the handrail system which finishes off your balustrade design perfectly. Much of this will come down to material choices – if you have a glass balustrade system on your staircase, for example, a stainless steel handrail is likely to be the best option. The two materials complement each other well, the transparent glass and reflective stainless steel helping to create bright, visually appealing effects.

The balance between style and practicalities can be a tricky one to get right. Often, highly ornate wooden or wrought iron balustrades restrict options as to where you can have the handrail – on top or, on a staircase, on a wall opposite, which reduces design options. With glass balustrades, stainless handrails can be placed either on top or attached to the side, offering greater flexibility while still achieving a great effect. This is why glass and stainless systems are so popular in commercial premises, and are increasingly being chosen for home interior design.