How to exceed UK Staircase regulations with high quality architectural metal hardware
There are many factors to consider when specifying architectural metal hardware into glass staircases, and is not a simple process to achieve compliance with UK Building Regulations. Balustrade Components UK engineers a range of specialist architectural metal fixings to ensure compliance, backed by our unparalleled technical support team to assist with your project.
How to specify architectural metal fixings into glass staircases
First and foremost, the initial design is crucial for a glass staircase to comply with building regulations, making sure each glass panel integrates with the necessary metal fixings and junctions. The base shoe in the balustrade system secures the glass in place at the bottom and can be either side or top mounted depending on the surrounding structure. Depending on whether the staircase will be a frameless design or will include a supporting handrail and other fixings, will then dictate as to the inclusion of various architectural metal fixings.
A frameless glass staircase will support the glass panels within the base shoe, usually of aluminium construction. These installations will offer more clinical, minimalist aesthetics as it maximises the glazing area of the structure, and generally means that the glass is the major factor concerning performance and functionality. Factors such as load bearing, thermal insulation, fire rating and even acoustic reduction all play a part in determining if the frameless glass staircases complies with regulations.
A glass staircase that integrates a handrail into the structure will have other factors to consider to ensure compliance. These structures will utilise more architectural metal products such as glass clamps, stand off point fixings, handrail brackets, glass brackets, and other fasteners and accessories. It is imperative to design architectural metal fixings in the correct locations ensuring load bearing compliance, balancing the need to include enough metal fixings for performance while not over-powering the aesthetics of the clinical glass staircase.
Balustrade Components UK always recommends incorporating architectural metal fixings into early design concepts, to not only ensure compliance but also to ensure the aesthetics meet your client’s requirements. Our experienced team works closely with architects, specifiers, contractors, developers and other industry professionals, with design inspiration and guidelines early on in projects, right through every step of the specification process incorporating high quality architectural metal fixings into glass staircases in residential, commercial and industrial projects.
Another factor for effective specification of glass staircases is material selection. The company’s range of stainless fittings is manufactured in our state-of-the-art production facilities in Cannock, Staffordshire, using the highest quality materials available – including Grade 304 and Grade 316 stainless steel as well as zinc alloy. The fixings are suitable for 10mm and 12mm toughened or laminated glass, although recently we have noticed a trend for thicker glass, where anything up to 30mm plus is being used for staircases, balconies and other architectural structures which require a high level of structural integrity. We are the only UK based manufacturer to product balustrade components for thick glass, where we are able to produce custom handrail brackets, stand offs, glass brackets and other fixings specifically for glass thicknesses above 25mm.
We source the finest 304 and 316 stainless steel as it provides the greatest levels of corrosion resistance, fire and heat resistance, strength-to-weight ratio advantage, hygienic properties, impact resistance and its clinical aesthetic appearance.
These factors mean stainless steel lends itself as a suitable material for high quality fixings for glass staircases, and ensures quality stems through the entire specification process, from concept to completion, and reduces any potential problems faced by the installer on-site, and for the end-result for the client.
UK Building Regulations Explained
Approved Document K sets out criteria and regulations for protection to people against impact, falling and collision with the glass staircase structures. Critical aspects of the document include Section 1 which provides guidance on the geometry of stairs, special stairs, fixed ladders and handrails for the guarding of stairs; Section 3 which provides guidance on protection from falling; Section 5 which provides guidance on protection against impact with glazing; and Section 7 which provides guidance on the manifestation of glazing.
If glazing panels are in critical locations within staircases, which generally they will be, they have to ensure they are designed and constructed so the risk of breakage is low, or if the glass panels did smash that they would pose little threat to people in the form of cutting and piercing injuries.
British Standards 6180:2011 gives guidance and recommendations for the construction of barriers in and around buildings, including factors such as the material selection for the barriers; the various loadings that barriers are meant to withstand; and the application or use of the barriers and how this affects the design.
Paul Startin, Managing Director, comments, “Our team has an intricate and detailed knowledge of the UK Building Regulations and we regularly work closely with architects, specifiers, contractors and other professionals in ensuring their glass staircases achieve compliance. We have worked on installations all over the UK and Europe, in a wide variety of residential, commercial and hospitality applications both new build and refurbishment projects.
We have a great team here with a genuine desire to help our customers. Family values underpin a real sense of professionalism held by every member of staff, which have helped to form strong relationships with architect practices, contractors and housing developers across the UK.”
By ensuring your glass staircase project complies with the UK Building Regulations and guidelines, it guarantees consistency in the quality of the construction, and instils confidence in your clients that the build is fit for the purpose intended.