What is Structural Glass?

Frameless Structural Glazing

What is Structural Glass?

The term ‘structural glass’ is a wide-reaching product term used to describe a frameless glass assembly where the glass is taking an element of the structural load. This structural load the glass is designed to take will depend on the location and purpose of the glass element.

A structural glass floor for instance will be designed to withstand a walk on load across its surface whereas a frameless glass balustrade installation will be designed to withstand the required line loading in a perpendicular direction.

Whatever the use or purpose of a structural glass element correct structural engineering, glass specification and fixing details are essential in ensuring the installation is safe and secure.

Any company looking to undertake a structural glass installation should have a proven and self-evident history of completing high-quality structural glass projects before they are specified.

What are the Advantages of Structural Glass?

The beauty of structural glass is that there is no frame. As the glass used is thicker and stronger you do not need framing systems to help support the installation. Instead, the glass is fixed to the building structure using bespoke fixing details to suit the building makeup. These fixing elements are most often hidden channels and steel angles that hold and fix the glass into the building. The fixing elements can then be hidden by the building finishes creating a completely clear glass installation.

As you are not governed by any maximum sizes of framing systems, nor dictated by maximum glass weights for façade systems, you can create enormous installations of glass using structural glazing.

Whether you are looking at creating a glass box structure or a frameless glass façade the largest piece of glass you can use will be governed by access to the site and the budget of your project. This allows architects and designers a much greater scope when it comes to designing striking and innovative building designs.

The Structural Glass Design Process

Every installation of structural glass has to be designed individually. This is due to the precise and bespoke nature of every structural glass creation. It is for this reason that there are no ‘standard details’ available for structural glass constructions.

When undertaking a structural glazing project we have to determine what the glass specification will be (the glass thickness and any lamination requirements needed), what fixing techniques are able to be used, what the makeup of the building structure or walls are, what the building finishes are going to be and what the resulting design appearance is. All of these elements and more are considered, discussed and designed during our in-house detailed design process.

This detailed design phase of the project takes place as soon as an order is placed with us.

Our in-house team of expert CAD designers will create a full set of working drawings for the structural glazing elements including their interface with the building. If we are provided with the CAD blocks for the construction we will then supersede our own CAD details into the construction drawings so that you have a full set of working drawings for the building.

We recommend to allow up to 20 working days for this design process as part of your project timeline to ensure that all the details are fully realised and finalised before material orders are placed.

If you are working on a project using structural glass and need to discuss the in-depth structural glass design details before an order is placed we recommend that you come to our showroom in Amersham where you can meet with one of our expert consultants. They will be able to sketch out a typical design detail and you will even have the opportunity to meet with someone from the design team to discuss the detail in person.

In instances where full working drawings are required at a design stage, for a sensitive or listed building project, for instance, a deposit can be placed with us for the architectural glazing which will allow us to commence with the structural glass design details. The architectural glazing package can then be novated onto the builder's contract once they have been appointed.

glazing slip resistance

The Importance of Experience

IQ’s experience and expertise in the area of structural glass is wide-reaching, having worked on some of the most challenging and complex glass projects within the UK over the past 20 years.

There are many areas of design and implementation to take into consideration when creating a structural glass installation, including installation feasibility, access to site, experienced installers, weatherproofing and precise silicone application.

As each installation of structural glass created by IQ Glass is bespoke and designed to suit each design requirement this in-depth working knowledge of frameless glazing and its working boundaries is imperative.

With an in-house installations team with a dedicated mastic division, experienced contract managers and a long and extensive history of structural glass detailing and design IQ Glass really are the first choice for architects and designers looking to create a frameless, structural glass assembly.

Popular Structural Glass Installations

Full structural glass constructions with integrated opening elements can be created using elevations of structural glass supported by minimal steel or laminated glass beams and fins. This type of structural glass construction is used to create structural glass box extensions with integrated doors as well as frameless glass roofs with integrated opening vents.

structural glass roof
condensation on structural glass

What Next?

If you have any questions about using structural glass on your project speak to the experts at IQ Glass by calling the team on 01494 722 880 or emailing your questions to hello@iqglassuk.com. Our experts are also on hand throughout our Live Chat feature on our website to answer your quick queries.

You can also take a look at our structural glass product pages which detail many of the frequently asked questions about each installation type.

Anyone looking to specify structural glass on their project is invited to visit our architectural glazing showroom in Amersham which showcases some of the most popular structural glass installations including glass box extensions, glass balustrades, oriel windows, walk on glass floors and structural glass roofs.

Contact us to book your appointment.

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