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When installing a balustrade, you have to deal with the so-called ‘thermal expansion coefficient’. This represents the amount that a material expands or shrinks when temperatures increase or decrease. It is something you need to take into account, for example when you position the base shoes of our glass balustrades on the floor during the installation process. So, how exactly does this apply to Q-railing products?
There are 2 types of thermal expansion coefficients: positive and negative. Materials with a positive expansion coefficient expand with increasing temperatures. This is because the molecules of these materials vibrate more strongly at a higher temperature and thus take up more space. Materials with a negative coefficient, on the other hand, shrink with rising temperatures, but are very rare.
Common balustrade materials such as aluminium and stainless steel have a positive expansion coefficient. They therefore increase in size when they get warmer and shrink again in cold weather. This is rather important when you consider that railings are regularly exposed to fluctuating temperatures, especially when you mount them outside. Just think of the differences between day and night temperatures and summer heat and winter cold. It is wise to take this into account during the installation process. But what is sufficient allowance for expansion and contraction?
In the past, we gave advice based on the standard expansion coefficients that apply to aluminium and stainless steel. But the results of practical tests were interesting. It turns out that our balustrade products expand a lot less than expected when they get warm! And that is very much to your advantage. It means you only have to leave minimal gaps between sections of our aluminium components: 3 to 4 mm is enough. So, for example, if you install a Q-railing glass balustrade at lower temperatures – perhaps in the winter – and it includes aluminium Easy Glass base shoes and/or edge protection, be sure to leave that minimum distance between individual sections of base shoe and edge protection ensuring pleasing results whatever the weather.
Creating a balustrade with Q-railing’s stainless steel components is also easy: When you install our stainless steel balusters, handrail brackets and/or handrails, you do not usually need to leave any space between individual sections. There is one exception: structures that are 10 metres or longer, for example a handrail in a large atrium or a long outdoor walkway. We recommend that you leave a small tolerance of 1 to 2 mm for material expansion at least every 10 metres.
Ideal temperatures for gluing and taping
As you may know, we have designed our products in such a way that welding is not necessary. You can connect them together by screwing, gluing, taping or clamping. Since adhesives and tapes are affected by temperature as well, let’s take a closer look at their ideal application temperatures: