Which glass is the right glass for me?

03 December 2010

Garry Smith at Pilkington explains

Glass can perform many different roles, from making a home more comfortable and attractive to ensuring security and privacy - it's simply a case of knowing what to ask for.


Consider your requirements

Consider the room’s function and ask the right questions: Will your priority be maintaining the temperature throughout the year? Is there a high level of external noise, or will the area pose problems with cleaning? It may be that the glass is in a position where you want natural light but limited vision from one space to another?  Careful consideration in the first instance can add real benefits in the long-term. 

Conservatory

Conservatories can be cold in the winter and over-heat in the summer so when selecting glass, it’s vital to consider how much sun will enter the room. If building on a wall that collects a lot of sun, choose a solar control glass that allows only a limited number of rays in. Also ensure that you have plenty of ventilation, particularly in the roof, to let heat out and prevent it becoming a greenhouse.

It is important to keep your conservatory warm without wasting energy.  Installing insulating glass units (IGUs) with a low e-coating and argon gas filling can extend the number of months  that your space can be comfortably used; by reflecting heat back into the room, maximising the use of available free heat and generally improving comfort.

Windows

Windows can lose a lot of heat, but this can be overcome by fitting energy-efficient glazing. Choosing glass that contains a low e-coating to let more of the sun’s rays in and reflect warmth from fires and radiators back into the home improves energy efficiency and helps reduce heating bills. 

Your biggest concern may be reducing external noise levels. There are many solutions to help combat this common problem for both modern and older, more traditional properties, but double glazing is only one option. New windows have the benefit of good seals when correctly installed and there are a range of glass types, some with specially developed laminated constructions to combat noise. IGUs with two different thicknesses can also have a marked improvement.

Doors

Glazing in internal and external doors can provide added light and a sense of space without compromising on safety, security or privacy.

For external doors, think about the degree the doors need to act as a barrier between the outdoors and the inside of the home. If the door may be vulnerable ask about burglar resistant doors and grades of laminated glass specially developed to resist entry for longer. For internal doors there are impact resistant grades of glass with and without levels of privacy.

Glass in and around doors within and below 1500mm from the floor needs to be impact resistant.  There are two common types of safety glass available:

  • Toughened glass - up to five times stronger than ordinary glass and shatters into small, safe granular pieces when broken, perfect if you have lively young children
  • Laminated glass - two pieces of glass bonded with a clear plastic interlayer so it cracks when broken but stays in position, reducing the risk of injury and ideal for crime prevention.  

You can also get fire resistant glass for doors and screens in areas where fire protection is needed such as upper floors and doors to garages.

Sky lights / roof conversions

Converting roof and loft space is a popular way to transform a home, but placing windows into hard-to- reach areas such as a loft can make cleaning challenging.

Glass is available with self-cleaning properties that can vastly reduce the time spent, and dangers of cleaning glass in hard-to-reach areas. Using daylight and rainwater to breakdown and wash away organic dirt, it continually cleans itself and provides a clearer view, leaving windows looking cleaning for longer. There is also the option of blue tinted glass to improve aesthetics and provide solar control, creating a blue sky view all year round.

Your choice of products has never been so good

Replacing or installing new glazing into a home can provide enhanced appearance, energy-saving and comfort. The key is to do your research and get the right glass for the relevant area.