Toughened laminated glass in balustrades adds another dimension to safety in high risk areas such as shopping centres or multi-level structures. The additional cost is minimal and usually works out to approximately 7.5 extra on the total project price, depending on the design. Standard toughened safety glass (which is all that is required by law), has the unfortunate characteristic of what is called, euphemistically, “spontaneous failure”. There is always something that could cause glass to fail, however it is often difficult, if not impossible, to find a cause. The pieces have usually been swept up and thrown away, or the critical part of the glass is scattered across a few floors of the office block or shopping centre. The toughened laminate in Tygervalley shopping centre failed due to a nickel sulphide inclusion, identified at the source of the failure as a small blob in the centre of the crack, in the centre of the picture below.
If a laminated and toughened glass breaks, it maintains a visible barrier in the balustrade as it does not crumble to the floor in a million pieces. It may not be as strong as before, but it buys time for a replacement. It will almost certainly be strong enough to keep small children safe and to allow temporary measures to make the area properly safe. The glass can also then be examined to find out why it broke – this can then be used for remedial measures or for future designs. Of course a toughened laminate will only remain in position if the fixing method will keep the glass in place – a completely frameless balustrade without a handrail type design, will still fall down unless very special interlayers are used. These can be as strong as polycarbonate or stiff interlayers such as Sentry Glas Plus by DuPont – used for the iconic staircases in Apple iStores worldwide. Toughened laminated glass is the ideal way to add security to your balustrade system, without compromising on design.