Is fire rated glass expensive?

Where product selection has the most impact on cost is also the area where the majority of fire rated glass is being used, which are 20 minute doors and 45 minute sidelites, transoms, and openings.

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June 02, 2015 |
Bill O'Keeffe
Fire-resistive tempered products such as SuperLite II-XL 45, shown in this 1-hour corridor, is more affordable than filmed and laminated ceramics used in the same application.  SuperLite II-XL 45 is proudly USA-made, has no amber tints, meets CPSC Cat. II safety and the hose stream test, provides radiant heat protection and has a high STC rating.

Fire-resistive tempered products such as SuperLite II-XL 45, shown in this 1-hour corridor, is more affordable than filmed and laminated ceramics used in the same application. SuperLite II-XL 45 is proudly USA-made, has no amber tints, meets CPSC Cat. II safety and the hose stream test, provides radiant heat protection and has a high STC rating. 

That is probably the most common question that we get as fire rated glass manufacturers, and that’s not counting all the architects and contractors who already assume that is expensive anyway. Indeed, for a specialty glazing product like ours, the issue of cost definitely comes into play. So to answer that question, our response is:

“It depends on the type of fire rated glass product that you specify.”

Where product selection has the most impact on cost is also the area where the majority of fire rated glass is being used, which are 20 minute doors and 45 minute sidelites, transoms and openings. This is an area where wired glass once dominated, but due to successful code changes that sought to protect the public from wired glass injuries and the introduction of new fire and safety rated products without the weak embedded wires, designers now have an expanded product mix that includes:

As you can see, filmed and laminated glass ceramics are the most expensive options. They are imported from foreign manufacturers and have to be filmed or laminated to meet safety requirements. Whether with or without the surface polishing that’s performed on the more expensive premium versions, glass ceramics will never have the clarity and tint-free appearance of highly tempered float glass. When used in 20 minute doors, filmed glass ceramics can be 3x the cost of specialty tempered glass such as SuperLite I and the laminated version can be as much as 4x the cost. Tempered glass products can be more cost effective for 45 minute applications as well.  Filmed and laminated ceramics are more expensive than fire-resistive tempered products such as SuperLite II-XL 45, without providing the added benefits of radiant heat protection and tint-free clarity.

So what is the benefit or advantage of using filmed or laminated ceramics in 20 and 45 minute applications? None!!!   

Since there are readily available, USA-made, clear and economical tempered products that meet fire and safety building code requirements, there really is no reason to pay more money for fire-rated glass ceramic products. So the next time you wonder if fire rated glass is expensive, know that there are ways of specifying fire and safety rated products for 20 and 45 minute applications that won’t blow your budget. 

If you need assistance with product selection or have any questions for any current or upcoming project that you have, please call us toll-free at 888.653.3333 and our team of experts will be ready to assist you. You can also visit us online at www.safti.com to view our comprehensive line of products, view our project gallery, schedule a webinar with an industry code expert, and much more. 

Bill O'Keeffe | Clear on Technical Glass
SAFTI FIRST Fire Rated Glazing Solutions

About the Author: Bill O’Keeffe is the President and CEO of SAFTI FIRST Fire Rated Glazing Solutions, a leading USA-manufacturer of advanced fire rated glass and framing systems.  An industry veteran and innovator with over 45 years of experience in architectural glazing, he was first to introduce and manufacture clear, fire resistive glazing products in the US.  He is also a safety advocate who exposed the dangers of traditional wired glass, which lead to code changes and fire rated glass products that are safe, affordable and clear alternatives to traditional wired glass.  Today, Bill continues to develop building products that enable architects to create beautiful, safe and energy-efficient spaces with advanced glazing systems.

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