What Tempered Glass Does
Tempered glass is a type of safety glass that undergoes a special manufacturing process to make it stronger and more resistant to breakage. Unlike regular glass, which shatters into sharp, dangerous shards when broken, tempered glass breaks into small, granular pieces that are less likely to cause injury. This makes it an ideal choice for applications where safety is a priority.
The use of tempered glass is not just a matter of preference; it is actually a requirement according to the International Building Code (IBC). The IBC is a model building code developed by the International Code Council (ICC) and is widely adopted by jurisdictions across the United States. The IBC sets standards for building construction and safety, including the use of tempered glass in certain situations.
In this article, we will explore the specific applications of tempered glass as outlined by the IBC. Whether you are a developer, architect, or homeowner, understanding these guidelines will ensure that you are in compliance with the code and prioritize the safety of occupants.
IBC Tempered Glass Applications
The IBC identifies several situations where tempered glass is required to be used. These applications include:
- Glazing in Doors: According to IBC 2406.4.1, glazing in any fixed or operable panels of swinging, sliding, and bifold doors is considered a hazardous location. However, there are exceptions for glazed openings that are small enough to not allow a 3-inch diameter sphere to pass through, decorative glazing, curved glazed panels in revolving doors, and glazing in doors of commercial refrigeration cabinets.
- Glazing Adjacent to Doors: IBC 2406.4.2 states that glazing within 24 inches horizontally from a door, where the bottom of the glazing is less than 60 inches above the floor, is considered a hazardous location. Exceptions include decorative glazing, situations where a wall is located between the glazing and door, and where the door leads to a closet or storage room less than 3 feet in depth.
- Glazing in Windows: IBC 2406.4.3 specifies that glazing in windows where a panel is greater than 9 square feet in area, the bottom is less than 18 inches from the floor, the top is greater than 36 inches from the floor, and within 36 inches of a walking surface is considered a hazardous location. There are exceptions for decorative glazing, the presence of a minimum 1.5-inch horizontal rail between 34-38 inches above the walking surface, and the outer pane in multi-pane glazing where the bottom is more than 25 feet above any adjacent surface.
- Glazing in Guards and Railings: IBC 2406.4.5 identifies glazing in any guard, railing, baluster panel, and in-fill panel as a hazardous location.
- Glazing in Wet Areas: According to IBC 2406.4.5, glazing in areas containing hot tubs, spas, whirlpools, saunas, steam rooms, bathtubs, showers, and swimming pools where the bottom is less than 60 inches from the walking surface is considered a hazardous location. There is an exception for glazing that is more than 60 inches horizontally from the water’s edge.
- Glazing Adjacent to Stairways and Ramps: IBC 2406.4.6 states that glazing near stairways and ramps, where the bottom is less than 60 inches above the walking surface, is considered a hazardous location. Exceptions include situations where a guard is provided and the glazing is more than 18 inches from the railing, and where the glazing is more than 36 inches from the walking surface.
- Glazing Adjacent to the Bottom of a Stairway Landing: IBC 2406.4.7 specifies that glazing near the landing at the bottom of a stairway, where the bottom is less than 60 inches above the landing and within 60 inches horizontally at an angle of less than 180 degrees from the bottom tread nosing, is considered a hazardous location. There is an exception for glazing protected by a guard where the glazing is at least 18 inches from the guard.
These guidelines ensure that areas where the risk of breakage is higher, such as doors, windows, and stairways, are equipped with tempered glass to minimize the potential for injuries.
Additional Considerations for Developers
As a developer, it is important to consider the additional factors related to the use of tempered glass in commercial applications.
These considerations include:
- Cost: Tempered glass may be slightly more expensive than regular glass, so it is important to factor in the cost when budgeting for construction or renovation projects. However, the added safety benefits and compliance with building codes make it a worthwhile investment.
- Beyond Minimum Standards: While the IBC sets the minimum requirements for safety glazing, developers can go above and beyond these standards to provide enhanced security and peace of mind to buyers. Consider incorporating tempered glass in other areas of the building where homeowners would appreciate the added safety, such as balconies, common areas, or near playgrounds.
- Renovating Old Homes: When renovating older homes or buildings, it is crucial to ensure that the glazing is compliant with modern safety standards. Thoroughly check existing windows, doors, and other glass installations to determine if they need replacing with tempered glass to meet current code requirements. This not only ensures the safety of occupants but also avoids potential legal issues in the future.
By considering these additional factors, developers can create safer and more secure commercial spaces that meet the expectations of buyers and comply with building codes.
Make an Informed Decision
When it comes to the use of tempered glass in commercial applications, it is essential to make an informed decision. Understanding the specific situations where tempered glass is required according to the IBC guidelines ensures compliance with safety standards and enhances the overall security of the building.
If you have any questions or need assistance with your specific project, consider contacting Vistaza for consultation. Vistaza is a trusted provider of safety glass solutions and can help you navigate the complexities of the IBC guidelines to ensure the optimal use of tempered glass in your commercial and multifamily buildings space.