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  Program 14

DAHGWSB - Glass Wall Systems and Design Considerations

DHI CEP Program #11-0811



Part 1 - Types & Applications

Part 2 - Design Options

Part 3 - Issues


<< Glossary of Terms >>


Part 1 - Types & Applications

Entrance systems types:

  • Fixed glass wall systems
    • Patch fittings
    • Rails
    • Single point/Spider fittings
  • Moveable glass wall systems
    • Stacking
    • Bi-folding
    • Bi-parting
    • Bottom rolling

Glass door types

GANA, The Glass Association of North America has come up with four standard types of heavy glass tempered doors:

  • P type - full rail top and bottom
  • BP type - full rail bottom patch fitting top
  • A type - patch fitting top and bottom
  • F type - patch fitting top and bottom with patch lock bottom

The first is a P type. It is a full top and bottom rail. This type is 80 to 85% of what the market consumes. The maximum height is 108 inches with ½ inch glass.

BP is a full rail at the bottom with a patch fitting at the top. This type accounts for approximately 5% of what the market consumes. Most commonly used with concealed closing devices, it is typically specified for doors that require less architectural metal at the top of the door. BP doors are not to exceed 108 inches.

Type A doors require patch fittings at both top and bottom. This type accounts for 8% of what the market consumes. This door's maximum height is 102 inches and is most commonly used in interior applications where less architectural metal is desired or in openings where a glass transom in located directly above the door.

And finally, type F is the same as type A with the addition of a patch lock. It is the least frequently used, accounting for about 2% of market consumption.

Fixed glass wall systems

Center hung patch fitting - Type A door
Type A doors most common uses are interior vestibules and office spaces.

Rail shapes and sizes
Rails are available in different sizes, colors and shapes. With the most common sizes being 3-5/8", 4", 6", and 10". Custom sizes are available.

Rail attachment types - Wet set
The original all glass door was released in the 1940's. This original P style door was considered a wet set rail and was very labor intensive. The glass had to be set in a channel with wet concrete poured into the "H shaped" track and left overnight to set up. This procedure was repeated for the top, limiting the door's adjustability and speed to market.

Rail attachment types - Press on
The next generation of rails were press on. They typically had a rigid vinyl within the railings, requiring a hydraulic press to install. A huge capitol investment is required by the fabricator to manufacture these type of doors. Thus, only a few fabricators throughout the United States still use this process today. This method does not allow for any adjustability in the field.

Rail attachment types - Mechanical
The current generation of all glass door attachement method is the mechanical rail. The advantage to this type of rail is reduced lead times, limited to no capital investment, and field adjustability. The rails are attached by tightening a series of screws. All that is required is a wrench and screw driver for installation. These doors are available in a variety of standard finishes and profiles. The main selling point is the ability to adjust the height and pivot location in the field without having to order a new door.

Rail shapes and sizes
The most common rail on the market today is the 3-5/8 inch square and tapered rail. However, the market requires additional sizes such as the 4, 6, and 12 inch height for compliance with the current ADA codes.

Header options
Headers are required to contain the overhead concealed closure and sidelites. Headers are available in a 4-1/8 inch X 1-13/16 inch and a 4-½ inch X 1-¾ inch profile. They are available with both a flat and glazing channel insert. The flat insert provides a finished viewing surface for the header while the glazing channel allows for fix glass to be installed directly into the header for optimal aesthetic value.

Single point fittings
Point fittings can be used in many applications such as restaurants, banks and office buildings. Single point fittings are great for use as support to hold signage and dividing spaces with fixed glass.

Moveable glass wall systems

Movable glass wall systems have many applications:

  • Retail storefronts for mall locations
  • Space divisions in offices and conference rooms
  • Clear view skyboxes at stadiums

Moving, stacking and parking
Moveable glass wall systems can create open spaces by moving and stacking the panels to one end. Or, they can be used in a closed position for privacy purposes with the swing doors at the center, while still providing access.

Bi-fold doors are sold in even number of door panels and are typically used in car dealerships, closet applications or resteraunts. They are top hung using clamps which reduce the glass fabrication costs and eliminate tripping hazards that exist with bottom loaded systems.

These glass wall systems can be attached to the ceiling or to a wall to give a clear line of sight. They eliminate the 9 square feet of space lost to traditional pivoting doors.

Bottom rolling
Another type of moveable glass wall system is a bottom rolling or sliding door. The disadvantage to this type of wall system is the continuous track needed for operation, requiring continued cleaning of dirt and dust, maintenance and adjustment, and tripping hazard.


Upon submission, results of your evaluation will be displayed with the correct answers shown in red.

  1. There are two types of glass wall systems, Fixed and Moveable.

  2. The Glass Association of North America has come up with four standard types of heavy glass tempered doors, including P type, BP type, F type and _______ .
    A type.
    B type.

    C type.

  3. Wet set, Press on and Mechanical are examples of rail attachment types used for Moveable glass wall systems.

  4. Moveable glass wall systems have many applications, including:
    Retail storefronts.
    Space divisions.

    Clear view skyboxes.
    All of the above.