Bringing the outside in has never been so exciting – or daunting.
In the quest for larger spans, thinner frames and higher performance glazing, the design and construction of sliding doors and windows has become ever more specialised and trying to make sense of pros and cons of the myriad of options can be a challenge.
Harris Calnan works with a number of specialist glazing companies and one those, IQ Glass, is a leading specialist in the design, supply and installation of proprietary glazing systems. In addition to the walk-on roof at Holmfield Avenue, IQ Glass also supplied the specialist glazing systems for our recently completed project at Prince Albert Court. As a one-stop shop, with specialist knowledge of every part of the process, from concept through to completion, they have attained deep insights into just what is needed for projects to succeed.
This month, they will be sharing six key pieces of hard won knowledge to help you make sure that your project reaches its full potential:
1. Make sure the drawings show what you want.
IQ have a terrific design department that can turn your concept sketches into working drawings that are then used for the fabrication and installation of the components themselves.
Having these shop drawings is a massive boost as they eliminate confusion and provide a clear benchmark for what is to be delivered. The design team at IQ are also very detail orientated, but they can only work with the information they are given. When working to developing client's concept sketches, gaps sometimes appear and they need to be filled. So it is crucial that both clients and designers are clear on just what the drawings show: are the heights of handles, number of panels, frame finish and opening configuration, all correct?
The point of the design process is to make sure that everyone understands exactly what is going to be installed. If you don't understand the drawings, IQ will be only too happy to explain them further. After all, it is always easier to change a drawing than it is to re-manufacture and re-install!
2. Check the glass specification.
Glass technology has developed at an astonishing rate and the result has been an explosion in the diversity and array of options and applications available.
Glass can now fulfill a range of functions, but each one has its own specific requirements and performance criteria that need to be included in the design. Does your glass roof need to take a maintenance load? Do you want frosted glass for privacy? What thermal performance do you want the glazing to have? Do you need heated glass?
One of the most important factors is whether the glass needs to be fire-rated. Fire-rated glazing is very specialised and only systems that have been properly tested and certified can be used. A glass installation that requires a fire-rating is likely to require more design time and an increase in cost of at least 100% over standard glazing so its best to get this resolved early.
3. Verify deflection tolerances for large spans.
Some glazing systems, especially the ones that provide for large panel sizes or frames of magically thin proportions, often require structural openings that are less forgiving in their rigidity than would normally be the case.
“We had a project recently,” explains Rob, a contracts manager at IQ Glass, “that had allowed too much head deflection in a 10 metre long opening of sliding doors.
After the project was completed and the building settled, the head of the doorway dropped. This put pressure on the sliding doors and meant that they wouldn’t open. That is obviously not what you want after investing in a premium glass door!”
Make sure that your structural engineer has designed head beams and lintels to consider these deflection tolerances otherwise your beautiful sliding doors may meet with a sticky end.
4. Resolve solar control measures early.
Glass is a fantastic design tool that helps emphasise and enhance connections between inside and outside spaces.
But lots of glass can also mean unwanted increases in solar gains which can cause spaces to overheat in summer as well as losing heat to the outside in winter.
Features which reduce solar gains and optimise thermal efficiency are easy to incorporate early in the design process but fiendishly difficult and expensive to retrofit.
In addition to adding special coatings or inter-layers to the glass itself, there is also the option of incorporating some shading using external automated blinds. Another solution that is becoming even more popular is the use of an automated louvre roof. The louvres can be rotated to provide variable shading and when closed they create a fully watertight roof outside your patio doors. These systems are not only perfect for creating indoor-outdoor living spaces, they also help provide fantastic protection against solar gains.
5. Coordination is king.
When glazing systems provide a focal point for a design, even the smallest visual misalignment can undermine all the hard work and money spent.
Often the detail design of the glazing system is left too late and getting the panels of large sliding door systems to match columns which have already been set out, or trying to make space for bi-fold door systems to open and stack when cabinetry or furniture layouts have already been fixed, can result in expensive, bespoke solutions that may or may achieve the desired effect.
But all this can be avoided by settling on a glazing system early on and then arranging other parts of the design, which may have more inherent flexibility, around the limitations of the system selected.
Decide on a glazing system, understand its limitations and requirements and then coordinate the rest of the design around these and there will be no need for expensive compromises.
6. Don't underestimate drainage.
Many of the most popular glazing systems are designed in Europe and the manufacturer’s recommended drainage systems, whilst they may be well designed and engineered, are often intended for climates with much less rainfall than what we experience here in the UK.
The consequences of insufficient drainage on large span sliding or bi-fold door and window systems, particularly those with flush threshold details, can be catastrophic. Which is why IQ Glass have developed a range of UK specific integrated drainage solutions as variations to these systems' standard details.
In addition to minimising the risk of consequential loss of damage post-completion, these details can be incorporated into the design so that all both drainage and glazing can be combined into one overall glazing package.
Hopefully these tips will help anyone keen on making the most of their glazing, no matter how big or small the project, but if you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.
For more information about the types of systems and services that IQ Glass offers, you can visit their website or download their free e-book which provides a wealth of helpful advice as well as examples of the types of glazing systems on offer.