A blog by CR Laurence...The popularity of glass in office and other environments means that installers are often faced with fitting and maintaining glass panels and doors, but how can they do so efficiently and safely while ensuring a quality, aesthetically pleasing finish, asks Simon Boocock, Managing Director of CR Laurence
Glass is increasingly being specified for a variety of commercial situations, from offices and restaurants to hotels and hospitals. This is unmistakably a material that is being chosen as much for its practical qualities as for the aesthetic advantages it offers.
The reasons for this become clear as soon as the advantages of this material are analysed: glass combines light, transparency and appearance with practical features such as thermal insulation, solar control, acoustics, fire protection, safety and security. And that is not to mention the physical versatility of glass which can literally be chosen to work alongside any other material and within any setting.
Open-plan offices are a good example of where glass is being used to its full advantage commercially. Open-plan offices make effective use of available floor space and give the illusion of light and depth in compact situations which accounts for their popularity. However, such spaces are not without their drawbacks, most of them from a practical viewpoint. Large expanses of space with lots of people in them tend to be noisy and lack privacy. What is required is a way of creating partitions and zoning specific areas, creating quiet areas and improving the overall acoustics, without losing any of the benefits that an open-plan environment offers.
Glass partitions are increasingly being specified as a successful solution, creating a high-end aesthetic while also being a highly practical way of creating a bright, spacious working environment and enhancing the office’s acoustics. They can also be used to form inner offices, creating a sense of privacy for meetings while still enabling those willing to integrate with the wider setting.
For specifiers and installers, the good news is that, with the right systems, such partitions are straightforward to fit, even retrospectively enabling the open-plan space to be easily adapted to suit changing requirements. A dry-glazed system will be mess and hassle-free to fit, for example, keeping disruption to a minimum for the client. Choosing a system with thin profiles means that the architectural hardware will barely be noticed and when it is opting for an on-trend finish such as matt black creates a stylish, cohesive look in the modern setting. Above all, a system specially designed for office partitions will make installation straightforward, enabling the feeling of openness and light created by large glazed walls simple to achieve in practically any space.
For wall-to-glass or glass-to-glass applications look for systems whereby the height of hinged doors can be easily adjusted and the doors can be installed in mounted ceiling profiles. This will enable the gaping joint between the glass door, side panel and top light to be closed, making the application acoustically viable. Where acoustics is an important consideration, take note of the thickness of the glass, with systems that can accommodate insulating glass to a thickness of at least 28mm preferable. This will insulate sound up to 42dB, allowing people to work undisturbed by noise around them.
It is not just the systems themselves that specifiers and installers should be aware of either. Upgrading tool bags to include some essential pieces of kit will save time and improve efficiency too. A vacuum ratchet tensioning kit will ensure the glass panels can be easily placed and pulled together, while avoiding the use of silicone sealant with solutions such as polycarbonate joints that simply clip on the glass will result in a clean, neat and quick finish.
Such solutions overcome many of the practical challenges of installing glass partitioning in commercial environments such as offices, creating an upmarket and harmonious ambience.
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