Ask a glass expert – Phil Brown Q&A

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Ask a glass expert – Phil Brown Q&A

30 Jan 2014
Our glass expert and technical advisory service manager, Phil Brown, has recently taken part in a readers Q&A for Grand Designs magazine. Covering everything from current glass trends through to the differences in types of glazing, Phil provides homeowners with easy to follow information and technical advice. Why not check out the Q&A shown below.

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Design-wise, what’s the benefit of using glass in your home?

The trend for blurring the boundaries of internal and external living has become really big over recent years, and glass can help achieve this effect.

It provides the visual connection to the outside of the home that most property renovators and self-builders strive to achieve. Glass also helps to transfer light around a property, which can make a room feel bright and airy.

An additional benefit of glass is that it can enhance the environment within a home. We spend a large percentage of our time inside our dwellings, and glass – which transmits light and provides external views – helps contribute towards your quality of life and happiness, and can also improve your sense of well being and health.

Can you use glass to help separate internal zones?

Using glass walls in bathrooms is becoming increasingly popular, especially to separate an en suite from the bedroom, or to help bring more light into a bathroom with no external windows. The main thing you should think about when selecting glass for this space is privacy with Pilkington Texture Glass or the new Pilkington Oriel collection being ideal choices. Most manufacturers give their designs an obscuration rating between one and five, with one being the least obscured and five the most.

Are there any current trends to look out for?

More homeowners are beginning to be more creative with glass, especially on staircases. Glass treads and balustrades offer a great opportunity to give your home a visual interest and create a modern interior. The material provides a see-through effect, which will help make a small space feel larger than it actually is.

What technological innovations have changed in the world of glazing?

Advances in technology have come on in leaps and bounds over the past few years and there are now lots of clever products available. Pilkington Activ™ self-cleaning glass has a unique dual-action coating that helps keep windows clear of dirt. Using a photocatalytic process, the coating reacts with ultraviolet rays present in daylight to break down and disintegrate dirt. The second stage occurs when rainwater hits the glass. Instead of forming droplets, the water spreads evenly over the surface and takes the dirt with it as it runs off.

How is the efficiency of glass calculated and is it easy to work out?

The level of thermal insulation, or U-value, is determined by a common calculation methodology set out in BS EN 673. This covers the centre pane and excludes the frame and edges, which are dealt with when determining the U-value of the whole window. Part L of Building Regulations in England requires all placement windows to have a Window Energy Rating band C or window U-value of 1.6. For glazed replacement doors, the maximum U-value is 1.8.  Low emissivity glass such as from the Pilkington K Glass™ and Pilkington Optitherm™ ranges can help windows and doors meet these requirements.

How can I stop my glass extension from overheating during the hot summer months?

Invest in solar-control glass. This can stop a large proportion of the sun’s heat passing through your extension. It’s ideal for glass roofs and, combined with self-cleaning properties such as Pilkington Activ SunShade™ Blue, it can reject as much as 80 per cent of the sun’s heat.

Will patterned glass make my interior scheme feel dated?

Decorative glass has had a bit of revival lately and there are now plenty of styles available that can really enhance the interior of your home. It can actually provide an elegant look, rather than a dated and traditional feel. The two most popular types of patterned glass (Pilkington Texture Glass) are one in which the design is embedded into one side of the glass, and another that has the pattern acid-etched (Pilkington Oriel collection) on to one side of the glass.

I would like to install floor-to-ceiling glazed windows, but does this mean I’ll hear more outside noise?

There are a few general rules to follow which can help maximise the sound insulation benefits of glazing. The thicker the glass, the better sound insulation – for example, a 6mm glass would offer advantage over 4mm. Pilkington Optilam™ laminated glass in which two panes of glass are bonded together with a plastic interlayer (known as PVB), can also offer improved sound insulation over standard monolithic glass. To enhance performance ever further, look out for Pilkington Optiphon™, a laminated glass with an acoustic interlayer.

Can you explain the difference between single, double and triple glazing

Single glazing comprises one pane of glass and has a poor U-value of 5.8. Double glazing, which introduces another pane of glass with a cavity between the two, can reduce heat loss by 50 per cent and achieve a U-value of 2.6. You can increase its efficiency and realise a U-value of around 1 to 1.5 by having one of the panes made from low-emissivity glass. Triple glazing is the most efficient and can achieve U-values as low as 0.5.  A recent innovation is the introduction is Pilkington energiKare™ Advantage, which provides triple glazing performance in double glazing.

What does safety glass really mean?

There are two common varieties of safety glass on the market – toughened and laminated. The former variety breaks into small, relatively harmless pieces when fractured. Pilkington Optilam™ laminated glass has a plastic interlayer between the two panes of glazing that hold the glass together in the unlikely event of any breakage. Building Regulations in England clearly define two critical locations where safety glass should be used, for example, in doors and side panels within doors (below 1,500mm) and low level glazing (below 800mm).

Is there a single-glazing option that offers the same performance as double glazing?

Pilkington Spacia™ vacuum glazing technology offers the same, if not better thermal performance as double glazing. It has an outer pane of low-emissivity glass and an inner of clear float, with a vacuum rather than air or another gas in between. It’s about the same thickness as singles glazing, but provides five times better thermal insulation. It maintains the original appearance of a more traditional dwelling.

For more information on Pilkington products please click here

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