Most people are well aware of certain mandatory installations that the government and the local fire department impose during the construction of public buildings such as hospitals, schools, offices, banks, and police stations etc. These installations help the people safely exit the building in case of emergencies. Some installations such as neon exit signs, fire extinguishers, and smoke detectors are quite evident and can be easily located once you enter. However, fire-rated glass goes unnoticed even though it is right there in front of you. They are commonly mistaken for normal glass and due to the naturally blending ability of glass; they don’t attract as much attention as a bright red fire extinguisher does. Nevertheless, their existence is as important as any other option and it is worth knowing what types of fire-rated glass are out there and what purpose do they serve?

What material makes glass resistant to fire?

Fire-rated glass is composed of either a single or multi-layered sheet of glass which is glazed to resist heat. A single sheet will only provide protection against heat while multiple sheets laminated together will also partially stop radiation from leaking through. The best combination is a laminate of many sheets covered with a special solution that not only resists heat, but also provides complete protection against any heat transfer through radiation. This is the best option, but also quite expensive.

Is fire-rated glass expensive?

Fire-rated glass can be more expensive than normal tempered glass. However, given its essential role in protecting lives, most governments offer subsidies to anyone purchasing fire-rated glass as a few extra bucks could go a long way in saving many lives. Additionally, keep in mind that these sheets not only have to be resistant to fire, but also must have adequate impact resistance and exposure to water when heated up. For example, tempered glass can easily break into shards if any water splashes on it while heating. So, if a building is installed with roof sprinklers, then tempered glass is a very bad idea. Hence, in hindsight it makes a lot of sense why fire-rated glass is a bit more expensive. However, it is always worth the investment.

Types of fire-rated glass

There are different variants of fire-rated glass mandated for different types of buildings. These are broadly classified into 3 categories:

  • E-Rated glass:

This type is most usually a single glazed sheet which provides adequate protection against both fire and high impact forces, but is not able to stop heat transfer through radiation. Hence, it can get fairly hot on the other side of the glass as well. Understandably, this variant is only allowed for low-level public installations where only a 20-minute protection time is expected.

  • EW-Rated glass:

This type is made by laminating multiple glazed sheets together similar to bulletproof glass. This type offers protection against large fires and can also partially stop heat transfer through radiation. This option is a bit pricier, but a lot more secure as it ensures a reasonable temperature on the other side of the glass where people may be taking shelter.

  • EL-Rated glass:

By far the best option against fires. This type can withstand the biggest fires and is capable of blocking all heat transfer through radiation. In fact, you could comfortably place your hand on one side of the glass while the fire rages on the other side. EL rated glass is made of glazed sheets laminated together and a special gel that turns opaque when exposed to heat. You won’t be able to see anything on the other side, but you will be completely safe as these sheets can easily withstand immense heat for up to two hours. Being the most expensive of the three, you will only come across these variants in high-level institutions such as federal agencies, banks, embassies, company headquarters, etc.

Of course, these are only the types. You can see them being applied in different ways. For example, polished wire glass is an extremely popular style and the pioneer of fire-resistant glass. You can easily recognize them by their distinct wire mesh running through the glass. Ceramic glass is another option that is both wireless and customizable. Transparent wall units are a relatively new example that has taken the market by storm and are in high demand owing to their superior resistance to fire and their contribution to the visual aesthetic of the building. You will often see these in conference rooms and interrogation rooms.

Where can you buy fire-rated glass?

We highly recommend you stroll by our website and see what we have to offer in terms of glass ratings and the accompanying visual aesthetics. Fab Glass and Mirror is amongst the best manufacturers of glass products and our friendly staff takes care of both delivery and installation. We urge you to take the necessary precautions as these thin transparent sheets of glazed glass may save your life and the life of your family in the event of a fire. Stay Safe!