Fire-Rated Glass Doors: Safety and Style

Apr 20, 2023 | Fire Doors Safety Insights

In today’s rapidly evolving architectural landscape, fire-rated glass doors have emerged as a smart choice for modern commercial buildings. These innovative doors balance aesthetic appeal and safety, allowing for open spaces and natural light while providing critical protection against fire hazards.

As architects and builders strive to create visually stunning yet secure environments, fire-rated glass doors offer a versatile solution that effectively compartmentalizes fire and smoke, ensuring occupants have adequate time to evacuate during emergencies. With various forms of fire-protective and fire-resistive glazings available, fire-rated glass doors cater to diverse needs and requirements, making them indispensable in contemporary commercial structures.

What Are Fire-rated Glass Doors?

Fire-rated glass doors are a specialized type of safety barrier designed to provide enhanced protection against the spread of fire and smoke in modern commercial buildings. These doors feature heat-resistant glass and robust framing elements that work together to maintain structural integrity during a fire event and are constructed using advanced materials and manufacturing techniques.

The primary function of fire-rated glass doors is to section off spaces, effectively preventing flames and harmful smoke from rapidly spreading throughout the building. This preserves valuable assets and infrastructure and safeguards occupants by allowing extra time for safe evacuation and emergency response.

By incorporating fire-rated glass doors into commercial building design, architects and engineers can perfectly balance aesthetics, functionality, and life safety requirements, making them a smart choice for contemporary structures.

Why Fire-rated Glass Doors are Growing in Popularity

Fire-rated glass has become an increasingly popular choice in commercial buildings due to its exceptional safety features and aesthetically pleasing design.

In an era where modern architecture emphasizes open spaces and natural light, fire-rated glass offers the perfect solution by providing transparency and protection against fire hazards.

Its ability to compartmentalize fire and smoke and shield occupants from extreme heat ensures that building occupants have adequate time to evacuate during emergencies.

Furthermore, with technological advancements, fire-rated glass now comes in various forms, such as fire-protective and fire-resistive glazings, catering to different needs and requirements of commercial structures.

Architects and builders can create visually stunning spaces without compromising safety by integrating fire-rated glass into their designs. This makes it a fantastic choice for contemporary commercial buildings.

Making Smart Choices: Fire-rated Glass Doors for Commercial Buildings

A fire-rated glass door is an invaluable investment for any commercial or residential space. It seamlessly combines elegance with unparalleled safety.

These doors not only enhance the aesthetic appeal of your interiors by allowing natural light to flow freely, but they also provide critical protection against the devastating effects of fire.

With fire-resistive glazing that can withstand extreme temperatures for extended periods, fire-rated glass doors effectively compartmentalize fire and smoke, ensuring occupants have ample time to evacuate during emergencies.

The innovative semi-rigid intumescent interlayer technology prevents the spread of radiant heat, safeguarding your valuable possessions from potential damage. By choosing a fire-rated glass door, you are making a decision that prioritizes the well-being of your building’s occupants without sacrificing style and sophistication.

Fire-protective vs. Fire-resistive Glazings

Regarding fire-rated glazings, there are two distinct types: fire-protective and fire-resistive. Each of these types has its own unique features, standards, and applications.

A fire-protective glass, tested NFPA 252/257 or UL 9/UL 10C and typically rated from 20–45 minutes, is used to prevent the spread of fire and smoke to different building areas.

A fire-protective glass that is typically rated from 20 to 45 minutes in accordance with NFPA 252/257 guidelines. This specialized type of glass is employed to stem the spread of fire and smoke between different building sections.

Although products within this category cannot prevent heat from traveling through the glass, fire-protective glasses must still adhere to the building code, which states that they cannot cover more than 25% of the total wall area.

In 60, 90, and 180-minute temperature-rise doors, a limitation of 100 square inches is imposed. Polished wire glass, specialty tempered glass, specialty fire protective glass, and ceramics all come under this classification.

Compared to its counterparts, fire-resistive glazing offers a higher level of protection with a rating of 60 minutes and beyond. It is designed to confine fire and smoke and shield those on the other side of the glass from the blazing heat.

Consequently, their size is unrestricted in comparison to fire-protective glasses.

The ASTM E-119/UL 263 standard for fire-resistive glazings is created to keep temperatures below 250°F above the ambient environment on the opposite side of the glass. This is done to avert materials such as paper and drapes from catching fire due to the radiant heat of the flames.

When exposed to the heat of a fire, a semi-rigid intumescent interlayer (SRIIL) in fire-resistive glazings expands, forming an impenetrable barrier that keeps out radiant heat, smoke, and flames.

Types of Fire-protective Glass Doors

Wired Glass

For years, wired glass and wire mesh glass were the only types of fire-rated glazing available.

This glass is created by fusing a wire grid mesh to a sheet of glass, allowing it to stay put in the midst of a blaze.

If regular wired glass breaks, it produces jagged edges that can be hazardous. Safety-wired glass, on the other hand, has a film layer over the glass, meaning that even if it breaks, it is less likely to cause injury.

Designers, contractors, and owners have moved away from using wired glass, replacing it with clean, safe, economical, and USA-made fire-rated glass options for safety and aesthetics.

Specialty Tempered Fire-rated Glass

In the US, fire-rated glass in 20-minute doors is an economical option compared to wired glass or ceramics; however, it usually fails the hose stream test, restricting its practical use. Therefore, it is not required to pass the hose stream test.

Specialty Fire-protective Glass

For superior clarity and protection, specialty fire-protective glass is the most cost-effective glazing solution that meets the fire and safety ratings and passes the hose stream test. It also provides superior safety against human impact. It suits interior and exterior applications in various specialty architectural shapes and patterns.

Types of Fire-resistive Glass

Annealed Multilaminate

This multi-laminated type is composed of several alternating layers of annealed glass and transparent intumescent interlayers. The more layers of annealed glass, the higher the fire rating! Sadly, these multilaminates are prone to interlayer damage caused by moisture, come in limited sizes, are incredibly delicate to handle, and have further restrictions which limit their practical applications – all of which are manufactured abroad.

Fire-resistive Tempered Units

Fire-resistive tempered units, crafted in the USA, are renowned for their durability; constructed with specialty tempered glass and a clear, semi-rigid intumescent interlayer, they stand out against annealed multilaminates. They can even be produced in larger sizes!

Fight Fire with Glass

Fire-rated glass is changing how designers, contractors, and owners think about fire safety. It is a cost-effective, safe, and aesthetically pleasing solution, meets fire ratings, and passes the hose stream test. Specialty fire-protective glass is an especially good choice for architects who want superior clarity and protection in their buildings. To learn more about how fire-rated glass can benefit your project, contact a fire-rated glass expert today.

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