More and more people are starting to call for Georgian Wired Glass (or “GW glass”) to be banned in the UK due to safety concerns. The US banned wired glass in 2006 and Canada has removed wired glass from its national building standards.
With new products such as Plasiax™ Wire offering a safer alternative whilst retaining your visual heritage, it could be time to leave Georgian Wired Glass in the past.
What is Georgian Wired Glass?
Georgian Wired Glass is sometimes also known as ‘Safety Glass’, although this name isn’t particularly accurate (more on this later). Essentially it is glass manufactured with wire mesh embedded into it to prevent it from shattering and breaking whilst also increasing its fire rating.
What is the problem with Georgian Wired Glass?
Georgian Wired Glass is weak, it’s weaker than ordinary float glass of the same thickness and it’s widely considered to be unsafe by engineering and glass experts. These experts tend to agree that – despite its ability to withstand heat – wired glass is weaker on impact than regular glass and is an unwise choice in high-traffic areas.
American television broadcast company CBS reported on the dangers of wired glass during an evening news show, mentioning an aspiring basketball player who, after attempting to block a shot, ran straight into a wired glass window and put his hand through it. His injuries subsequently ended his basketball career as he lost the full use of his hand.
A Canadian news station also reported on the dangers of wired glass after an investigation into its supposed ‘superior’ protection found that it may not offer superior protection after all.
The wire does not make the glass stronger, in fact, it can do the exact opposite. It actually weakens the glass and makes it easier to break. All the wire does is hold the glass in place, which in some circumstances can make it even more dangerous than it would have been without the wire mesh. Once broken, ordinary glass falls away, however, Georgian Wired Glass holds the shards in contact with the flesh and very serious injuries can be caused when the victim attempts to pull their arm back out. This is quite scary considering that it’s mostly used in schools and public places.
Canadian news website rdnewsNOW published a story in 2017 about a student who was severely injured by wired glass after pushing open a wired-glass door. In this case, both arms broke through the glass resulting in lacerations and damage to an artery. Thankfully, this individual managed a full recovery but this is one of many stories that highlight the confusing nature of referring to wired glass as ‘Safety Glass’.
Georgian Wired Glass is also heavy, which makes it difficult to transport and handle on site when fitting. It’s difficult to cut and requires special tools and it can be dangerous to work with due to sharp edges and exposed wires.
Who uses Georgian Wired Glass and why?
Wire glass is used because it can provide a fire barrier, this is beneficial for public areas such as schools, colleges, universities and libraries and even businesses. The glass may crack under heat or impact, however, it will maintain its structural integrity thanks to the wire mesh which will retain the pieces of glass. Essentially it is a low-cost fire resistant glass.
Is Georgian Wired Glass safety rated?
Georgian Wired Glass (obscure) is now no longer available as safety rated.
When was Georgian Wired Glass invented?
Georgian Wired Glass was invented by Frank Shuman who first filed the patent for an embedding wire-netting in glass in 1982. Since this time, the process and drawbacks have remained largely unchanged.
What is Plasiax™ Wire?
Plasiax™ Wire is a 6mm solid UV plastic Georgian wire polycarbonate and is designed as an alternative to Georgian Wired Glass. It’s half the weight of glass, virtually unbreakable, and far easier and safer to work with than Georgian Wired Glass. This makes it perfect for a non-fragile glazing system. It still retains the traditional Georgian wire aesthetic with the familiar grid etched into the sheet surface.
The 6mm thickness and optional clear or obscure finish create a straight replacement to most Georgian Wired Glass glazing.
Why use Plasiax™ Wire?
Strength and impact resistance: Plasiax™ Wire has 250 times the impact resistance of glass and is, therefore a much superior product in terms of security and handling. The product even complies with the following glazing regulations:
- Safety glazing – EN12600:2002
- Balcony glazing – EN12600:2002
- Security glazing – EN 356:2000
Water clear transparency: The smooth surface of Plasiax™ Wire has optical transparency, making it ideal for vision panels or clear roof glazing as it allows light to pass through without being scattered.
The obscure version is a very close visual match to the Pilkington Stippolyte pattern.
Lightweight: Polycarbonate is less than half the weight of glass. This helps to minimise transportation costs, time of installation, and reduce loadings on glazing framework and structures.
Weatherability: Plasiax™ Wire comes with a ten-year limited warranty against UV discolouration and loss of impact so throughout this long lifespan you can be assured with product performance.
Heat resistance and flammability: Plasiax™ Wire has excellent temperature stability with no loss of property from -40˚C to 130˚C, making it secure for most locations around the globe. It complies with BS476 part 7 with a class 2 rating and European standard EN13501-1 with a B – s2, d0 rating as well as the ‘self-extinguishing’ product classification.
Recyclable: Polycarbonate is an entirely recyclable material.
Workability: As with all polycarbonate sheet the product is easy and safe to fabricate using a variety of simple processes.
Check out the video below for a showcase of the strength and workability of Plasiax™ Wire.
Who has used Plasiax™ Wire?
Plasiax™ Wire has been used for the restoration of the roof glazing at the Bluebell railway, along with Capex50 Glazing bars.
Plasiax™ Wire was also used at Luton Airport, acting as a replacement for Georgian wired roof glazing on the Tui building.
Plasiax™ Wire has been used in other interesting places as well, here are just a few examples:
- Paddington Train Station Roof
- Victoria Train Station
- Waterloo Train Station
- Ealing Broadway Train Shed
- Hunterston B and other power station glazing
- Emmerdale Film Set
- Foot Asylum
- Fred Perry stores as internal GW Glass Alternative
Plasiax™ Wire’s applications include, but are not limited to:
- Balustrade panels
- Shop units/shelving
- Overhead safety glazing
- Heritage and listed building glazing
- Public transport
- Canopy and walkway glazing
- Door vision panels
- North light glazing
- Roof lights
- Roof glazing
Just check out our Case Studies to see how Plasiax™ Wire has been used in numerous settings.
How do you cut Georgian Wired Glass?
The following steps outline the general process for cutting Georgian Wired Glass:
- You should first polish the glass with a water-based abrasive cleaner, which encourages the glass to crack.
- Mark out where you want to cut using a straightedge and lubricate the glass before you begin.
- Then score the glass by firmly rolling the glass cutter across the glass in one cut and lift the glass and tap along the opposite side of the score line with the knob of the cutter until a crack appears.
- Continue every few inches to make a series of cracks.
- When you have a complete line, take the glass with two hands and break the cut piece off.
- You can then cut off any extra wire along the edges using wire cutters.
- By investing in Plasiax™ Wire this process can be made easier and simpler…
How is Plasiax™ Wire cut / sized?
Plasiax™ Wire is essentially a sheet polycarbonate so it is simple to cut, it doesn’t shatter like acrylic or other clear plastic materials used for glazing.
The best tools to use include:
- Festool rail saw or similar or circular saw with a sharp blade
- Other tools that have been known to be used successfully to cut or trim the sheet
- Dremel or multitool
- Knife score and fold it to break the sheet.
How thick is Georgian Wired Glass?
The thickness of Georgian Wired Glass can vary from 5mm up to 8mm.
How thick is Plasiax™ Wire?
Plasiax™ Wire is 6mm thick.
How much does Georgian Wired Glass cost?
When browsing on the web for ‘Wired glass’ you’ll find chicken wire glass selling for around £35 per square foot and Georgian Wire cast selling for £90 per square metre, which would be roughly £30 per square foot.
How much does Plasiax™ Wire cost?
One of our customers achieved a 12-month maintenance contract in only 4 months due to the ease and speed of installation with Plasiax™ Wire!
Plasiax™ Wire does have a higher upfront cost than Georgian Wired Glass, however, it has many benefits through storage, transport, and installation, and you should also consider the fact that Georgian Wire Glass is no longer available as safety rated. Increased costs of the base material can’t be compared to glass until the extra ‘iceberg’ costs are taken into consideration.
The costs of installing GW glass are like an iceberg, the cost looks small on the surface, then as time passes the costs grow and become much larger than they originally seemed. Plasiax™ Wire has cost savings such as:
Weight – It’s nearly triple the weight of Plasiax™ Wire – Transport, storage and transfer from delivery to usage location with GW glass is often tricky needing more labour and time.
Fragility – The wires act as weak points in the glass so the sheet has to be handled very carefully. Plasiax™ Wire can be bent and bashed without any risk of breakage so where three people may need to carry one piece of glass, Plasiax™ Wire would only require one person (potentially) carrying multiple sheets.
Cutting – Plasiax™ Wire can be trimmed or cut onsite without any specialist tooling or skill. Glass, on the other hand, is difficult to cut and is also dangerous, requiring careful measuring and painstaking templating, increasing lead times of material and labour cost.
Time – All this extra care and labour results in more time being spent on the job. Where access may be limited on a roof, for instance, taking materials onto the roof could account for one worker’s entire shift. All of these extra time considerations are before the materials even get to the location where they are going to be installed.
Technical lifting/access – Glass needs lifting or technical access such as scaffolding, which costs more than the quick and simple installation that can be achieved with Plasiax™ Wire using rope access.
In order to provide you with the most accurate quote possible, and to meet the specific needs of your project, contact us for pricing and advice.
Where can I buy Plasiax™ Wire GW Wire alternative?
Plasiax™ Wire sheet is available from stock in the UK from different distributors including TBS Polycarbonates in 3 different sheet sizes:
- 1220mm x 2500mm
- 1220mm x 3050mm
- 1220mm x 4050mm
Any other sheet size could be made to order up to 2050mm x 3050mm and there is also an option to print on different materials and thickness or even different print designs. TBS carries the main UK stock with over 500 sheets normally in stock.
How is Plasiax™ Wire made?
The base sheet is 6mm obscure Plasiax™ Endure polycarbonate, UV protected on both sides for long life and is virtually unbreakable.
The wire effect is actually a blend of chemicals and ink that react and form a submerged print below the surface of the polycarbonate. This makes it almost impossible to scratch or remove the print (unlike imitations of Plasiax™ Wire that use inkjet print or similar, which can be washed or rubbed off with ease).
What is the fire rating of Plasiax™ Wire?
Plasiax™ polycarbonate Georgian wire has a class 2 Fire Rating. After testing a sample panel by reproducing the effect of a fire on an adjoining wall or ceiling, Class 1 rating is given if the spread of flame is no greater than 165mm. Class 2 ratings are given if the spread of flame is no greater than 215mm in the first 1 and a half minutes and an overall spread of no more than 455mm.
Looking for an alternative to Georgian Wired Glass?
Plasiax™ Wire is the perfect alternative, being safer, lighter and stronger. TBS is committed to offering the highest quality product and service at the most competitive price in the UK marketplace. We offer a national delivery service throughout the UK, normally within 48 hours from acceptance of an order instruction. It’s our pledge to exceed your expectations by offering extensive product choice, speed, quality of service, and value for money.
Contact us for more information on how to become a distributor of Plasiax™ Wire or if you’re just interested in using it for your next project call us on 01992 622 823, email firstname.lastname@example.org, fill in the online enquiry form, or drop into our trade counter.
This article was written by William Gresswell.
William started at TBS in 2008 after leaving upper sixth form working in fabrication and cutting, he started on the trade counter and has worked through to business development. William actually worked part-time at TBS during holidays from a young age until he officially started full-time. William has completed a 2 year advanced business management course, a course with the chartered institute of management accountants (CIMA) and holds City and Guild certificates in basic electrics, plumbing, brickwork and carpentry.