Gracing the great outdoors
By Jack Kohane
Lumon fabricates window wall for Canadian extremes.
By Jack Kohane
There’s no glass and aluminum enclosure like it. “At least, no other frameless, retractable glass sunrooms, solariums and three-season rooms can rival us for style, appearance, functionality and user-friendliness,” says John Van Iperen, sales manager for Lumon Canada. “Our quality and continuous product development have really paid off.”
Finland-based Lumon has a 35-year global presence, exporting its products to over 20 different countries and employing more than 675 employees, producing annual sales of around $100 million. Specializing in glass and aluminum constructions for condos and private residential homes, Lumon is one of the leading suppliers in the European balcony and terrace market boasting one million customers worldwide. Lumon Canada marked its first foothold in the North American market in 2011 with a presence in Cookstown, Ont. The company has since grown to encompass plants and showrooms in Stoney Creek, Ont., Abbotsford, B.C., and its new state-of-the-art, 60,000-square-foot production facility in Woodbridge, north of Toronto, manufacturing and servicing the North American consumer market in tandem with sales consultants and dealers across the continent.
“We now install about 1,000 balconies per year in Canada,” says Van Iperen. “Toronto as the condo capital of North America is a good starting point for us. The great market potential is a good combination for success in Canada and also in the U.S.”
The Lumon product consists of an operable glass panel portion and a guard portion which forms a balcony enclosure. The system is not hermetically sealed as there are ventilation gaps between the operable glass panels. The operable glass panel portion consists of an upper extruded aluminum telescoping loadbearing track, a lower extruded aluminum glide track and six-millimeter-thick tempered glass panels. The upper telescopic track is attached to the perimeter of the concrete slab ceiling of the balcony using drop-in anchors and stainless steel bolts while the lower extruded aluminum track is secured directly to the Lumon railing system.
Each glass panel is attached to the upper track with two ball bearing rollers that serve as the upper hinge/upper rail guide, and to the lower track with an alloy hinge and plastic guide that rides inside the lower track. All glass panels can slide and be opened, except for one hinged panel at the end of the glass portion, which is fixed in place, but can be opened by swinging it inward. A plastic latch mechanism keeps the fixed-in-place glass panel closed or partially opened for ventilation. The other glass panels can be moved laterally, swung open at 90 degrees and locked in place with the hinges of adjacent panels. To fully open the system, the movable glass panels can all be shifted to the end with the fixed-in-place panel. A webbed nylon tether strap secures the glass panels while they are in the open position. Extruded aluminum channel profiles (glazing beads) are fastened to the upper and lower edges of the panels. The glazing beads are cut wider than the glass panels to prevent glass-to-glass contact when in the closed position and to provide ventilation between the glass panels.
The guard portion is composed of six-millimeter-thick tempered glass infill panels, galvanized steel anchors and extruded aluminum handrails, posts and sills. The extruded aluminum handrail connects to the posts with stainless steel bolts and rivets while the extruded aluminum sill connects to the posts with stainless steel bolts. The top of the glass infill panels is held in the track formed by the edge of the handrail. This track is lined with an EPDM rubber seal and a clip-in extruded aluminum retaining profile. Another extruded aluminum sill with an EPDM rubber seal holds the bottom of the glass panels in place along with a clip-in extruded aluminum retaining profile. The extruded aluminum posts, which are connected by a friction wedge plate, fit overtop of the steel foot anchors to which they are held with stainless steel threaded rod inserts and stainless steel cap hex nuts. The anchors are held in place to the concrete slab with a chemical adhesive anchoring system.
Speaking from Lumon’s stylish Woodbridge headquarters, Van Iperen points out that Lumon did its homework prior to entering Canada. “Though Lumon is backed by decades of research and development, in coming to Canada we knew we had to be fully prepared with the right specifications and building codes for this market.” Lumon Canada uses the same product design as in Europe, but has developed a new system for this market because the wind loads are higher here. “The new system is even higher quality than our original system, which makes us proud,” smiles Van Iperen.
The Lumon balcony glazing system has been awarded the European Technical Approval (ETA-06/0019). The Lumon glazing system is among the first in Europe to get this approval and CE marking. The CE marking is given, for example, to building products that fulfill the EU’s health and safety requirements.
With its roots in Finland, Lumon has a long history of high performance in extreme temperatures. “From the cold winters in Winnipeg to the hot summers in Toronto to the rainy seasons of Vancouver, our solariums are designed to excel in all kinds of weather conditions throughout the whole year,” touts Van Iperen.
In North America, Lumon’s glass specs are six-, eight-, 10-, and 12-millimeter tempered glass, heat-soaked if face mounted onto the balcony. “When designing a system, we start by checking to ensure the product meets all of the local requirements,” says Eric Koski, Lumon’s consumer condo sales manager. “We buy glass from a local supplier and monitor how it is measured, and then do all of the assembly in our own operations with constant quality checks. We check everything again before we go to the installation site.”
At present, Lumon’s glass components are supplied by Accurate Glass and Mirror based in Barrie, Ont. But Lumon plans to cut, polish and stock its own glass panels as its North American business mushrooms.
Lumon is CCMC-approved, having undergone rigorous laboratory wind load and snow load tests. “Our frameless retractable glass keeps out wind, rain, and debris without permanently enclosing your balcony, so you can enjoy your transformed balcony without worrying about zoning restrictions,” asserts Van Iperen. “We are also proud to be a green company with a negative carbon footprint that meets all LEED standards.”
Complementing its balcony glass enclosures, Lumon also offers customers accordion-style ceiling and window blinds to shade sunrooms or solariums from the sun and provide privacy when needed. The blinds are custom-made according to the dimensions of each pane of glass. They are then fixed to the glass, moving seamlessly with it. The blinds can be opened and locked in place from either the top or the bottom. When pulled up entirely, the blinds are almost invisible.
“Our ceiling and window blinds are made of 100 per cent polyester, making them durable and easy to wash,” notes Koski, adding that they are also anti-static. “Our projects include precise product measurements, railing designs, strength and resistance calculations, production and installation plans, drilling drawings, and product-specific technical details so that the time devoted to planning and installation is reduced as much as possible.”
Asked what about Lumon’s balcony and patio enclosure systems are most asked by his customers, Van Iperen replies, energy savings and noise reduction. The key features of Lumon’s glass system, he claims, include noise reduction by roughly 50 per cent, and energy savings of up to 11 per cent in condos and on average 5.9 per cent of a residential building’s heating energy consumption. As well, according to test results confirmed by university studies and technical research, corrosion of reinforcing elements slowed by one third in the walls and one half in the ceilings of the balconies, while it was found that concrete deterioration stopped almost completely in the protected areas. States Van Iperen, “Condo owners appreciate the glazing systems not only for the caliber of their construction and installation, but also because they provide opportunity for more use of balconies and terraces in areas with high winds and colder climates. Doing something for the building envelope – to improve it or protect it – is usually really expensive. Our system is affordable and it can save energy because it provides extra energy for the building envelope. It keeps out all of the elements – snow, wind, rain, pigeons – and keeps the concrete slab dry, so it reduces the need for maintenance.”
Koski emphasizes that it’s an investment for the building owner, one which allows the condo owner to use the space much more. “Additionally, it improves safety issues in balconies. It cuts a large percentage of noise, which can be a problem in urban downtown areas. With our system, the balcony becomes an extra private room for condos, which owners really appreciate.”
Currently the condo market is about 30 per cent of our business and 70 per cent residential. We expect those numbers to split with the impressive growth in condos. We are experiencing tremendous growth and see doubling our size within the next five years,” says Iperen.