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The 3 key considerations when applying the Approved Document B requirements to balustrade systems


The amendments made to Approved Document B since 2019 have had a wide-ranging impact on the design of facades across the residential sector. In short, the amendments prohibit the use of combustible materials on the façades of buildings in excess of 11m high. There are various qualifications on the types of buildings that this affects, but they have specifically focused attention on the specification of products on building facades.

So, what are the key considerations to be made when applying these changes to balustrade systems?


  1. The impact of fire safety regulations on the use of laminated glass in balustrades has been widely publicised. Traditional laminated interlayers do not meet the minimum fire rating requirements. Therefore, if a laminated glass balustrade is needed, it must have an a2-rated interlayer. In systems that use this a2-rated laminated glazing, each glazing panel must have a capping trim framing.
  2. Powder coating finishes used in balustrades must also comply with the minimal fire rating requirements. It is important that both the protective coating and the powder specified for the balustrade have adequate certification in line with the A2-s1, d0 standards.
  3. The use of glass ‘wedges’, packers and thermal breaks is also an area of consideration. Although approved document B exempts “seals, gaskets, fixings and sealants,” interpretation of how this applies to balustrades varies from project to project. Here are some things to keep in mind:

1. Plastic structural ‘wedges’ are often used in glass balustrade systems to secure the glass within the base channel. To ensure safety, it is important to specify a balustrade that uses a non-combustible cementitious grout to secure the glass in the channel.

2. Structural packers are used to level balustrade posts and base channels on concrete substrates. Traditional structural packers are made of combustible plastic products, so it is important to use non-combustible metal packers for this application.

3. Lastly, thermal breaks are required for balustrade posts or brackets in some instances to prevent heat transfer from the balustrade to the substrate below. There are both combustible and non-combustible options on the market, so it is important to specify them in line with the regulations.

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