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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.

Comments (4) -

  • Jason

    5/1/2012 5:54:15 AM | Reply

    I'm working on a large hospital project (new construction) and the design team has insisted that Pyrostop is the only acceptable fire-rated glazing product allowed on the project.  We included this provision during the bid, however, the steel door manufacturer is not able to accommodate the increased thickness with his standard selection of stops and spent weeks trying to convince the designers to let us provide FireLite Plus.  After several lengthy, technical discussions about the performance features, etc. (the doors are rated only; no heat-rise) it turns out the design team wants Pyrostop because they felt it has less of an amber hue.  This got me wondering whether the actual glass types used in both products are the same and it's just the difference in the interlayers?

  • Jeff Razwick

    5/1/2012 3:00:13 PM | Reply

    Hi Jason, thanks for your question.  The Pilkington Pyrostop and FireLite lines each feature a different type of glazing.

    Pilkington Pyrostop is made of multiple layers of low iron float glass with intumescent interlayers that turn to foam when exposed to high heat.

    FireLite products, on the other hand, are made of glass ceramic.  Modern glass ceramic products like FireLite look and feel like window glass, but their distinguishing factor is a crystalline structure that helps the material hold together under high heat.  Although glass ceramic holds up well under extreme temperatures, it does not block transfer of radiant and conductive heat, as does Pilkington Pyrostop.  If you’re interested in learning more, we have a good resource paper on the topic: http://fireglass.com/glossary/firelite-family.aspx

    Regarding your design team’s question about the hue of FireLite, we’ve worked hard over the last few years to reduce the slight earth tone tint (versus blue/green of float glass) of ceramic glass products.  We now use a new manufacturing process for improved color and clarity, and all of our FireLite products are available in premium grade for a smoother finish.   Please let us know if you’d like to have samples of FireLite Plus with our new ultraHD Technology sent to your design team.  Please also call us at (800) 426-0279 for assistance with Pilkington Pyrostop and door sizing.  We want to make sure your installation is a success.

  • Glazing India

    11/28/2012 9:27:46 PM | Reply

    Hi.......
        
               I am very thankful to this topic because it really gives useful information.


      <a href="http://www.zakglasstech.com/">Glazing India</a>

  • Jeff Razwick

    11/29/2012 9:47:29 AM | Reply

    Thanks for your comment, Glazing India. We're glad you're finding this blog to be a useful resource! Please feel free to let us know if you have any questions about this topic.

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