Ask the Expert: The Combustible Cladding Ban & Balconies

Following the tragic events at Grenfell, the Government has published regulations banning the use of combustible materials in external walls of high rise buildings and confirmed this now includes balconies.

How do the regulations impact balcony construction?

It is now mandatory that balconies located within 1m of a relevant boundary or situated more than 18m above ground level must have non combustible decking. The new regulations came into force on 21 December 2018. The regulations do not apply where an initial notice has been given to, or full plans deposited with, a local authority before that date.

Does Sapphire offer a Class A decking solution?

Yes. Sapphire is working with MyDek who have developed a ribbed aluminium decking in a range of finishes which carries a Class A classification.

Does the addition of a balcony soffit reduce the spread of fire?

Following extensive research by Sapphire at the Exova test centre in Warrington, we discovered that a suitable soffit to balconies offers a substantial contribution to limiting the spread of fire on domestic balconies, for a number of reasons including;

a) Limiting the supply of oxygen feeding the fire from below.
b) Preventing burning debris from falling from the burning balcony.
c) Reflecting and deflecting the heat rising from the fire, and thus preventing it reaching the balcony above.
d) Deflecting jetting flame from an apartment fire away from the building.

Do Sapphire balconies thermal break connections comply with the new legislation?

Yes. Sapphire use a material of limited combustibility in their thermal break. The product is generally located just above the fire barrier and encapsulated between steel plates, so the possible exposure is extremely low. The revision to AD B confirms this meets the requirements of the regulation.