A focus on flats and apartments

1/13/2021

For medium and high-rise residential buildings, the correct specification of door, window and glazing systems is essential to ensure they provide comfortable, safe and energy efficient homes, cost-effective maintenance and the required design freedom.

The design and specification of flats and apartments present a number of specific challenges and considerations, and this is particularly true for taller buildings. When creating any home, the comfort and experience of the residents must be one of the key considerations, but it is not the only important factor. 

Specifying for more extreme weather conditions

By their nature, tall buildings will be more exposed to the effects of bad weather and the selection of facade elements such as doors and windows must reflect this. Specifiers should look at the air permeability, water tightness and wind resistance performance to ensure the systems can withstand the demands of the environment. 

  • Air permeability - windows and doors should be tested to EN12207 standard and are classified from class 0 (the lowest) to class 4 (the highest).
  • Water tightness - systems should be tested to EN12208. Classifications range from 1 to 9 and are labelled A or B to indicate the test method. The A test applies the water most directly to simulate an unprotected area and therefore the highest class is 9A.
  • Wind resistance - doors and windows tested to EN12210 and classified A to C for deflection limitations and 1 to 5 for air pressure. The highest achievable rating being a C5 rating. 

In the water tightness and wind resistance categories, an E rating is achieved where the highest standard has been passed and testing continues. On the product performance details, the 'E' will be followed by a number that indicates the Pascal (Pa) pressure it was tested to. Therefore, a system with a wind resistance rating of E2400 indicates it has been tested to 2400 Pa, the equivalent to a windspeed of approximately 140 mph. The door and window systems in our Dualframe, SOLEAL and Confort ranges offer excellent weather resistance capabilities, with many products exceeding the requirements of the standard.

Furthermore, the new TIGAL range of pull and slide doors are ideally situated to high-rise buildings as its patented central sealing system guarantees exceptional water-tightness performance - up to four times better than a traditional sliding door. 

Capitalise on vistas without comprimising energy efficiency

Furthermore, the energy efficiency of the doors and windows must also be considered to minimise heating costs for residents and to reduce carbon emissions. It is important to look for products that can deliver high levels of thermal insulation as well as offer a high-quality aesthetic and ease of use for residents. This is the concept behind the design of our Confort range of sliding doors. The C160 and C160S have an attractive, modern and slimline design and feature glass fibre reinforced polyamide strips that reduce thermal conduction. The performance can be further enhanced through the addition of thermal inserts. As a result, the C160S can achieve a U value for the frame (Uf) as low as 1.4 w/m²K. The easy to use lift and slide doors can be installed in a range of configurations, including two and three rail options that allow wide expanses of glazing. 

Similarly, the TIGAL pull-slide system provides the option of floor-to-ceiling glazing and a width of up to 4m using one sliding and one fixed leaf. This hybrid solution is a combination of the features of a sliding door and the performance of a window, delivering excellent thermal insulation with U values as low as 0.85 W/m²K and is available with or without a thermal break. 

Creating a comfortable indoor environment acoustically

The acoustic performance of the products is also important for residential properties. In busy urban areas, noise can be a serious issue, especially for floors closer to street level. Also, for some projects, sources of noise may be closer, such as where buildings are located close to raised railway lines. Therefore, a system with enhanced sound attenuation can help create a quieter and more comfortable indoor environment. 

There are different approaches to achieving this. A laminate interlayer can be used to lower sound transmission, and this can potentially improve the thermal efficiency and safety. Alternatively, it may be possible to specify triple glazing - although, this can increase the overall cost and may have an impact on the choice of framing system.

Considering the cleaning and maintenance strategy

Another important factor for these residential properties is the cleaning and maintenance of windows and doors, which can become challenging and expensive if not considered during the design phase. One effective solution for high-rise buildings is to choose products that can be opened in such a way that it allows access to the outer surface for cleaning from the interior. 

This includes our Dualframe 75 Si Tilt Before Turn and SOLEAL FY65 Tilt/Turn windows. Both can be opened on a 'tilt' mechanism to provide ventilation under normal use but the window can also be unlocked to allow the window to swing inward for cleaning. Alternatively, 'reversible windows' can be rotated 180° allowing easy cleaning of the frame and glazing.

Allowing design freedom

Finally, as with all projects, the aesthetics and appearance of residential buildings is important and the choice of exterior windows, doors and glazing has a significant role to play. For example, open-in configurations can allow a range of design options such as louvres or other exterior facade elements without compromising the level of ventilation. 

Also, minimising the width of frames around glazing can help to accentuate the look of the glass itself as well as provide better sightlines and improved light levels for the building's residents. Take for instance, our SOLEAL FY65 Minimal windows, which offer slim, low profile frames in a range of configurations including fixed, open in and open out options. 

There are a range of factors that need to be considered when selecting door, window and glazing systems for medium and high-rise residential developments. Engaging with a systems supplier during the design stages can help ensure the most suitable solutions are selected to meet the requirements.