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Fire-Rated Glass and Framing Blog from TGP

Looking for a candid resource on all things fire-rated? Interact, discuss and gain new insights on trends, codes and design solutions for the fire-rated glass and framing industry.

2013 Fire-rated Glass and Framing Forecast

According to McGraw Hill’s Construction Outlook 2013, the construction industry is starting to show small signs of recovery. The caveat in the report is the improvements are contingent on avoiding a recession early in the year. Jeff Dietrich, a senior analyst for ITR Economics, takes a more cautiously optimistic approach in a recent Glass Magazine article, noting “2013 will see changes in taxes, but the economy overall is relatively stable and still growing, albeit at a milder pace than many would like…” While it’s still premature to predict which way the global economy will teeter, we can be certain 2013 will be what the glazing industry makes of it. As Dietrich aptly states, “The world rebooted in 2008 for many industries, but did not die. Many are coming out stronger, wiser and more profitable than before. It can be done.” Since the best defense is offense, don’t expect the economy to damper glazing innovation in 2013. The year is likely to be full of product breakthroughs, including for fire-rated glass and framing, and I think many of them will be driven by the following trends. 1. Greater design flexibility Architects are no longer satisfied simply using fire-rated glass in individual windows, borrowed lites and small view panes in doors. Many want large, visually compatible glazed areas that extend from floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall, and across multiple stories. System solutions—glass and frames designed to work together as a cohesive unit—can help fulfill this desire by achieving a higher level of performance without sacrificing aesthetics. 2. Improved integration Look for manufacturers to continue developing fire-rated frames that visually integrate with surrounding non-fire-rated assemblies. Advancements will include more finishing options, as well as enhancements to silicone-glazed (SG) fire-rated curtain walls. This is a trend we’re particularly excited about at TGP. 3. Increased lite size Since extensive areas of fire-rated glazing can help improve views between spaces and better maximize light penetration, manufacturers will continue to push the boundaries of glass lite size. This is timely, as daylighting strategies increasingly include fire-rated glass. 4. A clearer view Fire-rated glass with high optical quality is still in high demand since architects can install it in applications without altering the sophisticated look of modern designs. As such, expect to see the trend towards clearer fire-rated glazing remain strong in 2013. Just be sure to do your due diligence to ensure product claims prove true.  5. Improved fire and life safety performance Manufacturers seeking to stay ahead of the curve will continue to develop new technologies for improving their product’s fire and life safety performance. This most directly applies to fire-rated glass assemblies, which require the frame, glass, seals and other components to provide the same type of fire protection (e.g., fire resistance or fire protection) and carry the minimum fire rating as dictated by code.  What trends do you think will impact fire-rated glass and framing design in 2013 and beyond?  

What’s All the Talk About Clearer Fire-rated Glass?

A few years back, design professionals started asking fire-rated glazing manufacturers and suppliers to further enhance the aesthetics of fire-rated glass.  In response, some manufacturers and suppliers (disclaimer: yes, this includes TGP) went back to the drawing board to reconfigure processing methods.  How can we reduce the color in fire-rated ceramic glass?  Can we reduce surface imperfections formed during glass production?   The result of all these questions? Answers. Fire-rated glazing options are now available that are better able to meet both design and life safety requirements. As is true in every industry, some manufacturing processes yield better results than others.  But the bottom line is there is no reason to use fire-rated glass that forces a compromise on aesthetics.   So, how can you tell if the fire-rated glass you’re using is clear, particularly if the manufacturer or supplier says they’ve improved the optical quality?  Beyond basic due diligence research, there are a few practical things you can do. Request a large-size glass sample Small glass samples don’t provide an accurate representation of visible color or surface quality.  Depending on glass type, the color may be more – or less apparent – than it would be in an actual end-use application.  If a manufacturers’ standard sample size offering is too small for your comfort, request a larger sample.  If they won’t comply, it might be a good idea to walk away. View glass against various backdrops It’s best to inspect glass color against a range of backdrops.  Background color schemes either emphasize or minimize glass tints and hues, so where possible, evaluate glass color against a backdrop similar to that of the intended application. View glass in direct and indirect sunlight Make sure you view fire-rated glass in a setting similar to that of your intended application.  To use the diamond analogy, diamonds often appear darker in direct sunlight (though they will sparkle more), but clearer in soft light.  The same holds true for glass.   Compare glass samples Compare the glass sample to other glazing you intend to use in the building, as well as to other potential fire-rated glass candidates.  Each type of fire-rated glass has different aesthetic qualities.  Neighboring materials might complement these features or, conversely, make them more visible.