We want to warn you right away that the Finnish glazing method is by no means a panacea for the cold (although winters in the country of Suomi are no less severe than in Russia). Therefore, you should not imagine a super-warm balcony that looks like a Finnish sauna..
And further. It turns out that we are not the only ones who glaze the balconies. True, in Finland, as, indeed, in other European countries, the purpose of balconies in a residential building is completely different than in Russia. As a rule, foreigners grow flowers in pots on the balcony, relax, chat over a cup of coffee. “Imported” balcony fully complies with the scientific definition, which says that it is “an open platform protruding from the plane of the facade of the building, which facilitates the connection of the room with the outside space. In Finland, for example, no city has a building with glazed balconies a la russ style. There the balconies are either not glazed at all, or they are “covered” from snow, rain and wind by the same method that we will talk about today. Bulky wooden, aluminum or plastic structures that allow Russians to turn a balcony into a warehouse and expand living space, foreigners are a wonder.
Therefore, fifteen years ago, Finnish specialists, taking into account the tastes of their compatriots, invented an elegant method of glazing – frameless. And ten years later, this technology appeared on the Russian market..
Secrets of frameless glazing
When I came across an advertisement for frameless glazing, a natural question immediately arose: are they not fooling us again? We are a conservative and distrustful people, and it is difficult for us to imagine a glazed balcony without frames, which in Russia, according to the primer, from time immemorial, “mama soap”. Journalistic (and natural) curiosity prevailed, and I drove to the address indicated in the advertisement.
It turned out to be true. The Finnish design was really fundamentally different from other types of glazing: there were absolutely no frames and partitions. The glazed balcony looked light, airy and transparent. And at the same time did not spoil the facade of the residential building in the least. On the contrary, it successfully complemented.
Experts assured that for all its “framelessness” the Finnish method remarkably protects from precipitation, mutes street noise and becomes warmer.
What is the frameless structure made of? It is clear that, despite the apparent lightness and airiness, it must be very durable. It turned out the following: it consists of aluminum profiles – upper and lower (these are guides for glass doors) and tempered glass that meets the requirements of international standards SFS 2728 and DIN 1249.
For those who are not in the know, I would like to inform you: tempered glass is very durable and can withstand high loads. It cannot be broken even with a blow of a stone. The thickness of the glass depends on the height of the glazed space: if it is higher than 2 m 10 cm, then glass with a thickness of 8 mm is taken. If lower – use 6 mm. The width of the glass sash can be from 60 to 80 cm, depending on the size of the balcony and the customer’s wishes. Moreover, you can order not only transparent glasses, but also tinted ones. All components for frameless glazing are produced in Finland, on order. So you can have no doubt about their quality.
R-one, two – we open it!
I was struck by another feature of the Finnish design – the fascinating process of opening and closing the doors. It opens like this: first you must open the outermost sash with the upper lock. It looks like a rope “floor” switch. It is necessary, as if in a fairy tale, to pull the rope – and the transparent sash will come out of the upper and lower frame (a small child will not reach the upper lock for anything, so parents can be calm – in their absence, the baby will not open the balcony). And after this manipulation, the rest open.
So you’ve opened the doors. After that, the lower lock comes into play, more precisely, the plastic handle-lock. It is installed at the bottom of the sash. The lower lock is needed to hold the sash both closed and open (see diagram no. 1). If you need to open the sash, turn the handle to the left.
Frameless glazing scheme No. 1
1 – top profile
2 – glass
3 – the upper overlay on the glass
4 – the bottom overlay on the glass
5 – bottom profile
6 – handle-lock
7 – upper lock (floor switch)
8 – fixing tape
9 – ventilation clip
10 – rubber seal
How to fix the ajar sash? For this, there is a special ventilation clip next to the floor switch. And if, suppose, you want to fully open one or more doors? No problem, everything is thought out. Remember how the wardrobe system works? So here is about the same. First you need to open the outermost sash (left or right) inward, perpendicular to the guides. Then move the adjacent sash to the vacant space. Open it inward and repeat the same with the next sash. By sliding the doors one by one, you will open them all in a wonderful way. But just remember: in order to open any of the glass doors, first of all you need to open the last one and only then all the rest.
And so that the open doors do not swing in different directions and do not beat against each other, it is best to fasten them with a special retainer tape. It is attached under the outer sash, on the lower aluminum profile.
The open doors look like transparent book sheets. At the same time, the balcony parapet remains completely free. In other words, a frameless Finnish design with open doors will look like there is no glazing. Well done Suom guys, they thought of such beauty!
How it’s done?
The most surprising thing in this whole story is that such a balcony structure is assembled very simply. The process looks like this. Aluminum strips are glued to the glass doors from above and below, and hinges with rollers (bearing wheels) are attached to them in turn. (See diagram No. 2) With these hinges, the glass clings to the upper and lower profiles (guides). In general, I repeat, frameless glazing is very similar to the design of a wardrobe.
Frameless glazing scheme No. 2
1. Top aluminum profile
2. Bearing wheels equipped with a ball bearing mechanism
3. Sliding mechanism and latch
5.6mm tempered glass
7. Plastic coated molding
8. Bottom aluminum profile
9. Bottom latch
To seal the gaps between the glass doors, acrylic inter-glass seals are put on the edge of the glass, like a cover on a ridge blade. If necessary, they can be easily removed, then ventilation gaps with a width of 1 to 3 mm will be obtained on the balcony. The experts explained that in this way the balcony can be ventilated all year round. And you don’t need to open the doors.
The balcony is protected from moisture and precipitation by rubber seals. They are laid from the outside between the glass sash and the aluminum profile (see diagram no. 1). And the gaps between the doors and the side walls of the balcony are filled with sealant (its color, by the way, can be matched to the color of the profile). And the glass doors and aluminum profiles are fastened together with glue-sealant, and not with screws and nails. Hidden fittings are the motto of Finnish manufacturers. That is why it is light and spacious on such a balcony..
After listening to the experts, I imagined how my cluttered balcony would turn into a botanical garden, and the wonderful birch alley, which is visible from my window, would just be in full view. The manager’s message returned me from the world of dreams and fantasies to the harsh reality: “A square meter of frameless glazing costs from 320 dollars. This price includes the frame, sash, accessories, installation, measurement. You will have to pay about $ 2,100 for a balcony about 4 meters long. ” Well, I just hung up my ears – but I have such!
After this verdict, the desire to plant flowers on such a balcony immediately disappeared. I definitely don’t have that kind of money. I was at a loss. I can hardly wait for a drop in prices, even after the millennium no one promises us this. And I really wanted to make such glazing. Especially after they told me so colorfully and in detail about these Finnish things. “It cannot be, – I reasoned, – that there is nothing like that cheaper.” And I was not mistaken.
Happiness through joint efforts
In the end, I managed to find another model of frameless glazing. Outwardly, the design called “Elegant” looked really elegant and flawless. For “Elegant” you will be charged quite dearly – from $ 120 to $ 180 per 1 sq.m. And the quality will be excellent too. And this model is cheaper because it was produced by “joint efforts”. Aluminum profiles and fittings are supplied from Finland, and tempered glass is made in Russia, at the Bor plant. The preparatory stage of assembly takes place also in Russia, but on Finnish equipment.
The specialists of the AlKon company claim that this option is even better than the Finnish one. Stronger, anyway. Sashes and aluminum profiles are fastened not only with glue-sealant, but also with anti-acid stainless steel rivets. They are matched to the color of the aluminum profile (can be white, brown or anodized), so they are completely invisible on the glass.
But then I remembered one thing. The fact is that I live in a house of the P-44 series, and there the balconies are designed in such a figured way that the parapet does not go strictly straight, but forms an angle. By the way, I’ve always really wanted to talk with the architects and designers of this ill-fated series. Why, one wonders, did they make such stupid balconies? Not only is it a whole business to glaze them, but it’s not so bad. If anyone does not know, the balconies in the houses of this series are different. For example, there are balconies arranged in such a strange way that in one corner you can still somehow turn around, but in the other you can only stand sideways. Especially if you are a person of large build. If we assume that this was done for the greater beauty of the facade, then, excuse me, the facade did not become more beautiful because of these lopsided monsters! And people are one trouble!
Well, okay, now it’s not about that. It was more important for me to understand whether it is possible to glaze my disabled balcony with a frameless method? Experts explained that this problem is also solved quite simply: one opening sash is installed on the balcony parapet at an angle. And on the straight parapet there are sliding doors.