Privacy Screen and 1.8m high panels

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Planning requirements

Local councils many times require that balconies, terraces and upper floor amenities include a “privacy screen” be installed. The reason this is called a privacy screen is so as not to infringe on the privacy of the neighbours which the balcony or terrace area may overlook.

This occasionally comes as surprise to applicants but none the less is taken quite seriously by local authorities seeking to protect neighbouring parties interests and privacy.

Structural implications on balconies

The added height that privacy screens must usually have requires extra consideration for wind loadings. It may seem initially that it is a small difference to go from 1.1m to 1.8m and in straightforward thinking terms you would initially think that is an increase of 63% of the load.

You would be wrong, the increase under severe calculations reaches up to 4 times the load that a 1.125m screen must endure, And so these deigns are not to be taken lightly, the last thing you want is a large sheet of glass flying off your balcony in a storm.

Balconette’s Solution for 1.8m screens

This is an introduction to the Balconette’s Privacy Screen system for 1.8m high privacy screens – parameters, how they work and technical information.

As briefly explained above the subject of wind loading is not a simple calculation as there are many variables that need to be considered. The loads on privacy screens are A LOT larger than on balcony rails and will require stronger elements to resist these loads – namely stronger posts with bigger base plates.

All the information and data herein related to screens that are 1.8m high.

We have modified some elements of our proprietary  Balcony 1 System so that our solution is able to withstand and conform to the loading required. Here is what we have done:

* We have introduced a new primary post that is made from a 60 X 60 X 5 SHS (square hollow section) with a base plate 300mm X 150mm.

primary post 20212.1

* This primary post is sheathed by a new Aluminium sleeve post which is 66mm X 75mm

handrail 20212.1

* The handrail will usually sit as a continuous handrail on top of the posts but can also sit between the posts

bottom rail 20212.1

* Glass on screens must be fixed on all 4 sides so we must run a bottom rail on the VERTICAL posts as well.

(when using 12mm glass the vertical rails that run on the posts can be omitted)

screens 20212.1

* We have limited these screens to a maximum height of 1.8m

Geographical parameters & wind loads

Not all areas in the UK will require the same parameters and so we have given guidance in our calculations for two situations. Each situation or category will permit a different MAXIMUM post distance and a maximum run without posts..

Design wind loads are influenced by a number of variable factors.  These include site location, site altitude above sea level, type of terrain, height of privacy screen above ground level and screen geometry. 

These parameters and conditions are defined in BS EN 1991-1-4:2002 + A1: 2010 ‘Actions on structures – wind actions’ & UK National Annex to EN 1991-1-4:2002 + A1:2010. We have chosen to prepare a calculation based on certain conditions, resulting in specific coefficients.

There are two options, we have called them “normal” & “severe” wind load conditions. In order to know which one will fit a particular site we need to ascertain if falls into one of the following sets of parameters:

Normal wind loads parameters:

  1. Site locations located geographically within the 23m/sec isopleth in Figure NA1 of the UK National Annex.  This covers most of England and the eastern half of Wales.
  2. Site altitude 50m maximum above sea level.
  3. Top of balustrade located 8m maximum above ground level.
  4. Site located in a coastal area exposed to the open sea, terrain category 0 of BS EN 1991 Table 4.1.  This is the most severe exposure category.  Smaller wind load coefficients apply to less exposed inland sites, terrain categories 1 to 1V.
  5. Sites with no significant orography in relation to wind effects.  Increased wind load factors apply to sites near the top of isolated hills, ridges, cliffs or escarpments.

Severe wind loads parameters:

  1. Sites located geographically within the 24m/sec isopleth in Figure NA1 of the UK National Annex.  This covers the majority of sites in England and Wales.
  2. Site altitude 100m maximum above sea level.
  3. Top of privacy screen located 40m maximum above ground level.
  4. Sites located in a coastal area exposed to the open sea, terrain category 0 of BS EN 1991 Table 4.1.  This is the most severe exposure category.  Smaller wind load coefficients apply to less exposed inland sites, terrain categories 1 to 1V.
  5. Sites with no significant orography in relation to wind effects.  Increased wind load factors apply to sites near the top of isolated hills, ridges, cliffs or escarpments.

Parameters of the screens for each category

Normal wind loads category:

For sites that come within the parameters above for the normal wind loads, wind loading is the dominant design condition for the 1.8m privacy screens. 

Maximum handrail span without posts: 3.0m

On single span and corner balconies/screens, the Orbit (Balcony 1) system handrail is capable of supporting the ultimate design loads over spans up to 3.0 metres between points of support. ie. a handrail wall fixing, or a handrail corner joint.

This means that a privacy screen that is fixed between walls for example and is up to 3.0m long can be made without any posts.

Maximum post spacing: 1.6m.

On longer balconies where the length of the balustrade exceeds 3.0 metres, vertical posts are installed at a maximum spacing of 1.6m between post centres.  The posts are 60 x 60 x 5mm square hollow steel sections (SHS) in steel grade S 275 H enclosed in 75 x 66mm aluminium sleeves. 

Severe wind loads category:

For sites that come within the parameters above for the severe wind loads, wind loading is the dominant design condition for 1.8m privacy screens.  The characteristic design wind pressure for these sites is 1.50 kN/m2.  Sites that do not come within these parameters require separate consideration.

Maximum handrail span without posts: 2.3m

On single span and corner balconies/screens, the Orbit (Balcony 1) system handrail is capable of supporting the ultimate design loads over spans up to 2.3 metres between points of support. ie. a handrail wall fixing, or a handrail corner joint.

This means that a privacy screen that is fixed between walls for example and is up to 2.3m long can be made without any posts.

Maximum post spacing: 1.3m.

On longer balconies where the length of the balustrade exceeds 2.3 metres, vertical posts are installed at a maximum spacing of 1.3m between post centres.  The posts are 60 x 60 x 5mm square hollow steel sections (SHS) in steel grade S 275 H enclosed in 75 x 66mm aluminium sleeves.  

Implementation or installation procedure

The primary posts should be fixed down to the structure in the early stage so that the base plates are covered by the finished floor.

Once floor is finished the 66 X 75 posts slide onto the primary posts giving a maximum height of 1.8m for the screen.

The handrails are fixed on top of the posts.

The bottom rail is fixed on the floor and on the heights of the posts – also fixing the 66 X 75 post to the primary post.

The glass is then placed into position with temporary glazing beads on all 4 sides.

Silicone is applied to all 4 sides of the glass.

Once silicone is dry the full length glazing beads are replaced and glazed with 3mm rubber.

This solution of privacy screen can also allow combining a regular balcony balustrade with a screen by the placement of a corner 66 X 75mm post.

privacy screen balustrade



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