Glass & Metals 401: Errors to Avoid

Product suppliers list the most common specification mistakes in protective glass and glazing applications

1. Use of outdated specifications

“We commonly see the use of outdated specifications with products that are not available, are obsolete or do not meet current code minimums.”
—Ron Leiseca, eastern regional sales manager, Vetrotech Saint-Gobain

2. Not observing published limitations of protective glass

“Maximum sizes, installation requirements, etc., are typically clearly identified by the manufacturers, and need to be observed during the architects’ design/specification process.”
—Peter Lindgren, president, Aluflam USA

3. Specifying fire-rated glass and framing components that have conflicting ratings

“There is often a lack of nderstanding about the difference between rated component and system requirements under the code.”
—Leiseca

“Since the frame, exterior caps, glass, seals, fire-safing and other elements work together to provide effective fire and life safety protection, the International Building Code requires all specified components to have the same or greater ratings than the required code minimums. This is important to adhere to when specifying fire-rated glazing systems. Manufacturers test firerated glazing assemblies to meet fire and life safety codes. As such, swapping out any part of the assembly to save on costs may compromise its ability to provide the necessary level of fire protection. If adjustments are necessary for design or performance reasons, manufacturers or suppliers can aid in the development and testing of custom systems.”
—Jeff Razwick, president, Technical Glass Products

4. Incorrectly named supplier

“A common mistake we see is listing distributors versus manufacturers in the specification.”
—Leiseca

5. Specifying a fire-protective product that meets ASTM E-119

“There’s no such fire-protective product that meets ASTM E-119. This indicates that an architect hasn’t been correctly informed regarding the specified product’s performance
capabilities.”
—Jeff Griffiths, director of business development, Safti First

6. Specifying a product that doesn’t meet the code requirements related to the application

“A classic example is the specification of wire glass or ceramic glazing, when the requirements would clearly call for intumescent type glasses for fire-resistance classification.”
―Lindgren

“This indicates that the architect has been misinformed regarding the product’s performance capabilities. Both of these examples too often lead back to a product representative that thinks one-size-fits-all.”
―Griffiths

“We’re seeing school retrofit projects [that call for] new vestibule doors and hardware to confine and regulate foot traffic in and out of the facility. However, tempered glass is specified for the doors and sidelites. They need to harden the glazing; otherwise the design work is futile.”
—Rod Van Buskirk, owner, Bacon & Van Buskirk

7. Specifying fire-rated glass that has not passed all the required tests

“The IBC’s multi-faceted label marking system can help prevent this error. Fire-rated glazing in compliance with the IBC must carry marks that indicate the product’s fire rating in minutes; conformance with any temperature rise criteria; conformance with the hose stream test; and whether it is suitable for use in doors, openings or walls. The label must also include the manufacturer’s traceable identification number and the mark of the third-party testing agency, such as Underwriters Laboratories.”
―Razwick

  • Glass & Metals 401: Threat-resistant Design Recommendations

    Use laminated glass instead of annealed or tempered glass

    Don’t place annealed or tempered glass adjacent to doors (if windows are broken, the door can be unlocked)

    For high-security threat buildings, minimize the number and size of windows in a façade or at ground level

    Use burglar- and ballistic-resistant glazing in high-risk school areas

    Use a window safety laminate or film over glass to reduce fragmentation from bomb blast

    Place security screens across operable ground-floor windows, with careful consideration of fire-egress requirements

    Secure operable sliding windows with locks, or drop in bars or rods

    Place windows with sills at least 6 feet above the ground floor to limit entry

    For blast-resistant systems, consider steel window frames fastened to surrounding structure

    Minimize interior glazing in high-risk areas.

    Source: FEMA guidelines for windows and glazing, compiled and presented by Rod Van Buskirk, owner of Bacon & Van Buskirk, during a February security glazing seminar for architects.