A Guide to Fire-Rated Glass Products

Modern building materials are more efficient, attractive, and intelligently designed than ever before, and glass is no exception. Design glass, or decorative glass, allows architects and designers to infuse their spaces with style and sophistication using screen printing, custom painting, patterning, and switchable glass techniques.

Contemporary glass technology offers more than just good appearances, though; functional safety measures have advanced hand-in-hand with style aesthetics. Today’s designers and builders can choose from an array of high-performance safety materials, including some of the toughest glass ever formulated.

What Is Fire-Rated Glass?

Offering optimal aesthetics and high durability, glass is an ideal choice for designers looking to meet both style and safety concerns. Across a wide range of applications, safety professionals and industrial engineers alike work to find reliable solutions for stopping the spread of flames and heat that can endanger human life and valuable property. In such situations, glass can play a critical role in containing flames and preventing serious damage.

Standard tempered glass products have a fairly high heat rating; these materials generally shatter around 500 °F. But this is not high enough to ensure optimal safety. Fire-rated glass, on the other hand, is specially manufactured to be able to withstand high heat. These materials hold up in temperatures above 1500 °F, making for a highly reliable fire barrier that can prevent the spread of flames, fire, smoke, and extreme radiant and conductive heat. For instance, using fire-rated glass for doors can greatly decrease the chances of injury and death.

Fire-rated glass and glass products are subjected to a range of tests to ensure viability in emergency situations; much like personal safety gear, fire-rated glass is designed to withstand even the most dangerous environments, and testing helps to determine the expected performance and fire rating for glass types. Individual glass ratings are based on the duration for which the material can withstand extreme heat, as well as the thermal shock the material can endure when cold water from fire hoses or sprinklers comes into contact with the super-heated surface.

Types of Fire-Rated Glass

There are two common types of fire-rated glass: polished wired glass and ceramic glass.

Made with lengths of wire or wire mesh embedded into the material during manufacturing, polished wired glass is the oldest glass fire solution available. In fact, it’s been used in buildings for over a century, and is still the most recognizable product on the market. Polished wire glass, available in both clear and textured types, are also available at a very low price point. However, impact standards are very low, and the devastating injuries caused by wire glass are well-documented. Wire glass can present a liability for property owners.

Ceramic glass, or glass-ceramic, is crafted with a clear ceramic fire-rated glazing rather than wire reinforcements. Because glass-ceramic is completely clear, it’s generally more aesthetically pleasing than wired glass, allowing for direct lines of sight within a space. The lack of wiring also means less liability, allowing for higher fire ratings with a much higher impact safety rating. Ceramic also serves as a reliable barrier to radiant heat.

A great deal of old wired glass is now being replaced with ceramic glass to ensure optimal building safety while allowing contractors and building owners to avoid potential legal issues in the event of an accident. Working with these advanced materials also allows for easier incorporation of critical safety features, such as fireproof doors and windows.

High-impact areas aren’t the only ones requiring reliable fire-rated glass solutions; in buildings and settings of all types, fire codes and regulations are being made more stringent. Because fire guidelines can vary from region to region, builders must have a full understanding of the products they’ll need to meet specific codes. Maintaining clear directions and documentation in building specs is critical for ensuring non-compliant products are not installed.

Fire-Rated Glass From M3 Glass Technologies

Partnering with many of today’s leading manufacturers, the team at M3 Glass Technologies is proud to offer some of the toughest glass products on the market.

Our selection of fire-rated ceramic-glass allows for optimal heat and thermal shock resistance across a range of different settings, and we work with the expert engineers at Schott to ensure we have the clearest fire-rated products available, with smooth and distortion-free finishes. Our laminated fire-rated glass products meet the impact safety standards of both ANSI Z97.1 and CPSC 16 CFR 1201.

Recent manufacturing innovations have allowed for more sophisticated fire-rated glass and framing assemblies than ever before, and today’s designers have a range of options for specific ratings, materials, installation techniques, and so on.

The experts at M3 Glass Technologies work closely with all customers to help them find the right glass for their specific jobs. To learn more about the wide range of glass products available or for help in finding the ideal fire-resistant glass for your unique needs, reach out to the team today.

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