Balustrades and balconies offer big business opportunities to home improvement specialists.
“If you go back 10-years you’d see balustrading in commercial applications and one or two residential installations, but with those exceptions, glass balustrades and balconies hadn’t really taken hold in residential markets. Roll forward to today, and we’re doing more residential balustrading than ever, with sustained demand from commercial markets - but significant growth in demand from domestic ones”, says Bohle’s Managing Director, Dave Broxton. “It’s the product of two things. Increased end-user awareness and a far broader application of glass in a domestic setting”, he continues.
Bohle has a broad range of products available in this arena. Its most recent, Vetromount, a new easy-fit balustrading system, has been developed specifically for this growing residential market.
“Vetromount has been designed to simplify installation, eliminating the requirement for specialist tools and reducing fixing costs”, says Dave. “The response we have had from established installation businesses is that it delivers a lot of onsite efficiencies. Those customers who are newer to balustrading have found it straight forward to fit and felt more confident moving forward with it than some of the other systems available.”
The system offers a series of USPs. As a starting point, it’s counterbored, which means it’s suitable for use with standard, rather than more expensive counter-fix fixings. The design of the system also means that drill holes can be set further apart at distances of up to 400mm (top-mounted). What it also offers, however, is the opportunity to up-sell. This is because Vetromount is supplied by Bohle with a highly innovative clip-and-fix finishing option, which allows installers to apply a stainless steel ‘skin’ to the standard anodised finish.
“VetroMount is an easy-to-fit system but also delivers added value to the end-user through optional finish choice without increasing stock holding – it’s a distinct selling point, can even be retrofitted, and delivers high margin opportunity to installers”, says Dave.
Suitable for installation from one side and without the need for scaffolding, Vetromount can also be aligned to plus or minus 20mm in either direction by hand - and without the use of specialist tooling. The glass is then locked in place using an intuitive and patented push and pull mechanism.
It’s available in standard 2.5m and 5m lengths in top and side-mounted options, accommodating glass thickness of up to 21.5mm, with fixing mechanisms supplied according to thickness of glass.
“To reiterate, there’s no glass processing involved once you’re on site. You order the length of channel you require, the glass, fixing kit for that thickness of glass and that’s it”, Dave adds. He makes the point that that this doesn’t negate the requirement for heavier weight systems. Only that it gives glass processors and home improvement specialists dedicated options depending on the task in hand.
Bohle’s heavy-duty balustrading system is the EasyMount 6020 which is designed to withstand a linear load of up to 1.5kN. It also uses the same counterbored design to deliver installation efficiencies and savings, making it suitable for use with standard head anchor bolts rather than far more expensive countersunk headed fixings.
This also allows it to meet the 0.74kN residential loading requirement with increased spacing between fixings, so when used with a 19mm or 21.5mm glass, the number of fixings per 2.5m go down from 17 and centres every 150mm to just 5, spaced every 600mm.
“You’re again saving money on hardware but also cutting installation times. These are savings which go back on your bottom line. Taken as an illustrative example, the listed price point per linear metre for use with either 19mm or 21.5mm glass is 30% less than competitor systems”, Dave argues.
In addition to Vetromount and EasyMount, Bohle’s Balustrading offer also includes Single Point fixings for face fixing of balustrading and stair cases.
“Vetromount and EasyMount are dedicated balustrading systems so they offer a number of efficiencies in installation. Single point fixings allow you to not only create balustrading systems but also staircases and Juliet balconies. They require perhaps a little more specialism but deliver a high degree of design flexibility and very precise contemporary finish with a high level of adjustment on each individual point.”
Designed for use with tempered and laminated safety glass, Bohle Single Point fixing are available in 40mm and 50mm options depending on glass thickness, each offering up to 5mm of adjustment. This can be done after the glass has been mounted from the front of each fixing point, allowing for full adjustment.
Juliet balconies, according to the Bohle MD, are a related growth area, the appropriately named SkyForce making up Bohle’s dedicated Juliet balcony system. It’s been developed to deliver the flexibility for use in on-site installation, fixed directly into brick work and masonry or direct into timber, aluminium and PVC-U door frames, as long as in the case of the latter, it’s manufactured using a suitable reinforcement. This also means that Skyforce can be prefabricated as part of door manufacture.
“The biggest single benefit is that Skyforce gives you is that direct fit into frames”, continues Dave. “This means that you don’t have to run the glass from fixing point on one substrate to the other – although you may want to – you can go into the frame. This means you don’t always have to go full width, making handling simpler and reduce cost for the end user. The other advantage of course is that it can be fitted as part of door manufacture, on the ground and in factory conditions.”
Tested to General Building Inspection Test ABP and BS6180, SkyForce accommodates single glass width of up to 3000mm using one complete two-part aluminium fixing and glazing system. It’s supplied by Bohle in three pre-assembled profile sets for glass heights of 900, 1000 and 1100mm. These can accommodate multiple glass thicknesses from 12mm to 21.52mm, depending on the rubber glazing set selected.
“What we’ve tried to do is to develop an offer which removes barriers to market entry but which also delivers the flexibility to service the distinct elements within those markets as a glass specialist of glass processor, or as a home improvement business, where glass is an important part of your offer but not its core”, says Broxton.“What is key is that homeowner demand for glass balustrading is very much on the increase and as a growth area there are significant opportunities at all levels within it.”