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Introduction to fire glass counterpanes

Counterpanes - what they are, how they are used and how they can benefit your project

What are counterpanes? Quite simply, a counterpane is an additional pane of glass that can be used to enhance performance in various glazing applications. Counterpanes can be used alongside Pyroguard fire safety glass without jeopardising its performance, resulting in glazing that is safe, aesthetically pleasing and able to deliver numerous other benefits.

Combining a quality counterpane with Pyroguard fire glass can provide solar control, thermal insulation, sound reduction, safety and privacy; an array of potential design features can also be incorporated. As an independent company, Pyroguard can recommend and work with counterpanes from any other provider, meaning that our customers benefit from the maximum range of bespoke glazing options.

Counterpanes can be used in double glazed units (DGU), which comprise one sheet of Pyroguard fire glass plus one counterpane, or triple glazed units (TGU), comprising one sheet of Pyroguard fire glass and two counterpanes. A DGU can be used in an external or internal application, whereas TGUs are mostly used in external applications – they can, however, also be used internally – for example to achieve high acoustic control.

Pyroguard is also able to include polyvinyl butyral interlayers between two or more panes of glass. These laminated counterpanes provide solar control, thermal insulation and sound control, and can include coloured, privacy and feature interlayers.

The benefits of counterpanes

Thermal insulation and solar control: Low emissivity glass means that IGUs comply with requirements for the conservation of heat and power as set out in Approved Document L of the UK Building Regulations. The neutral appearance provides high light transmission for optimum vision and solar heat gain. This kind of glazing solution also offers sustainable energy savings by lowering heating costs.

There are also single counterpanes available which combine the benefits of both low emissivity and solar control. These provide a neutral appearance with high light transmission, low solar factor and again improve thermal control to reduce air conditioning and heating costs.

Acoustics: Fire glass panes alone have a good level of sound reduction but, as designs become more ambitious, acoustic requirements call for DGUs that include a laminated acoustic counterpane. Sound control laminated counterpanes can be offered with a wide range of performance to meet high acoustic requirements e.g. BB93 bulletin guidelines for schools and busy learning environments.

Safety and Security: All Pyroguard glass, and the counterpanes we use, meet the impact test requirements for glass in buildings as set out in EN12600. In addition to this, laminated glass as a counterpane can provide everything from basic safety such as protection against human impact (EN6262-4) to attack protection (EN356), blast and bullet resistance (EN1063). Specialist counterpane options such as BR4NS are also available.

Low Iron: This is glass with a reduced iron content which provides a crystal clear visual appearance without the blue tinge that can sometimes occur in regular glass. It is often the preferred choice of architects and is ideal for use in counterpanes.

Customised prints: Frit ink, screen printing or digital printing can be used on counterpanes to create privacy bands, patterns or logos. Digital printing remains the more expensive option, but frit and screen print are regularly requested, especially in non-residential applications. Acid etching or sandblasting are also options to create beautiful privacy glass while maintaining high light transmission.

Self-cleaning glass: Self-cleaning glass can be used in counterpanes and offers thermal insulation, solar control, safety and sound reduction. This type of glass has a special coating which is activated by UV light. The coating breaks down dirt and, when it rains, causes water droplets to spread out in a sheet, picking up dirt particles and washing them away.

Efficiency: Combining counterpanes with Pyroguard fire glass in your building specification also helps achieve a high BREEAM rating. BREEAM is the world’s foremost environmental assessment system for buildings, and sets the standard for energy efficiency and the health and well-being of a building’s users. BREEAM credits are awarded for reduction of CO2 emissions, insulation, lighting, glare control, thermal comfort and acoustic performance amongst others, all of which Pyroguard glass achieves.

Independent expertise

One of the primary advantages of working with Pyroguard is our independent status. We are not affiliated with any of the major glass manufacturers, which means we can recommend, source and supply almost any type of counterpane. Our flexibility and breadth of in-depth expertise also means we can advise on all aspects of glazing applications, not just the fire glass element.
Pyroguard’s UK Head of Projects, Simon Ellison comments, “There is definitely an evident rise in fire glass IGUs that use various counterpanes. In my role, I’m seeing over 75 per cent of projects that require a counterpane.”

Want to know more about counterpanes?

To find out more about how high specification counterpanes can be combined with Pyroguard safety glass to provide the best glazing solution for your project, why not get in touch with our technical specification team today?

Pyroguard promises to provide you with a leading fire glass solution that combines sustainable and flexible design options, giving you exactly the glazing solution you want without sacrificing efficiency or aesthetic appeal.

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