Bath enclosure standard ready for ballot

Approval could come in 2008
By Matt Slovick
July 22, 2008
RETAIL : CODES & STANDARDS

The Bath Enclosure Manufacturers Association's proposed voluntary standard for the manufacture and installation of bath enclosures is now in the hands of the American Society for Testing and Materials in West Conshohocken, Pa., awaiting approval.

"The most important thing is to be in front of the [ASTM] subcommittee so they can talk about it and ballot each section of it," says Chris Birch, executive director of the association in Topeka, Kan. "We want to keep it moving forward so it can be completed."

The document, submitted to ASTM in March 2008, will most likely go out for ballot in June or July, says Tom O'Toole, manager of Committee C14 on Glass & Glass Products at ASTM. "My experience is that it goes out for ballot once or twice," O'Toole says. "Optimistically speaking, this could be approved in 2008."

The first round of balloting goes to a subcommittee, O'Toole says. Two-thirds of members must give approval unless a persuasive negative vote is cast. After approval at the subcommittee level, the standard moves to the main committee, where a two-thirds majority is also necessary for approval.

In July 2006, talks between officials at BEMA and the Americas Glass Association in Placerville, Calif., failed when they could not reach a consensus on whether to create standards or codes for bath enclosures. The AGA attempted to have its recommendations written directly into the building codes.

In May 2007, the International Code Council, Falls Church, Va., rejected a set of proposed AGA-backed amendments aimed at hardware and glass requirements for frameless shower doors. Donn Harter, president and technical director at AGA, said he believes a reason the amendments were not approved was because they did not have the support of the National Glass Association, McLean, Va., or BEMA. He said the Glass Association of North America, Topeka, Kan., also questioned the recommendations.

"GANA is coming to our next board meeting, and we're going to talk about doing things jointly," Harter said. "We want to have a little bit more cooperation from them this time." The public comment deadline for the ICC code cycle for 2009 was June 9. Thus, the amendments, if approved, would not be introduced to code until 2012 at the earliest.

Recent developments
In July 2007, engineer supervised and certified testing on deflection of glass when installed in typical bath enclosure configurations was completed. The BEMA standards committee gave an update during their annual membership meeting in September 2007. A few findings included:
• Glass thickness can be varied to control the glass deflection within acceptable limits and has a significant impact on the deflection values.
• The location of the clips is an important design decision and has a large impact on the deflection of the glass.
• The addition of a third clip along the vertical edge of the sidelite makes little difference in the deflection of the glass panel.

The BEMA Standards Committee's goal is to develop comprehensive, voluntary standards for the manufacture and installation of bath enclosures, keeping safety as the first priority while encouraging industry innovation and development, it states. To request a copy of the proposed standard, e-mail Birch at info@bathenclosures.org.

The author is editor-in-chief of Glass Magazine. Write him at mslovick@glass.org.