Glazing, walk-on rooflights and skylights

There’s a real ‘feel good factor’ to a home which successfully brings the great outdoors indoors. Glazing is an instant and cost effective means of transforming the look and feel of a kitchen, open plan living space or family room


There’s a real ‘feel good factor’ to a home which successfully brings the great outdoors indoors. Glazing is an instant and cost effective means of transforming the look and feel of a kitchen, open plan living space or family room, and with continuous advancements in rooflight design and manufacturing capabilities, there are now even greater opportunities to incorporate natural light into your self-build or refurbishment project.

With a breadth of solutions available, including light pipes, lantern, pyramids and even walk-on skylights in a whole host of sizes and finishes, the key is to specify the right materials for the space in question and ensure that the installation process is equally well thought out. In recent years, for example, we have seen the demand for glass soar, with more and more home owners opting for clear glazing in order to ‘see the sky’ perfectly from within the property.

In addition to the aesthetic appeal, clear glazing is also highly functional in terms of its acoustic performance given the low G-Values it can provide. It’s not just in the new build market where we are seeing this demand for glass. It’s equally popular in existing homes where people are opting to undergo extensions and structural improvements as opposed to moving to a new place.

Walk-on skylights

A relatively new trend we have seen emerging is the desire for walk-on skylights in the home, which allow foot traffic on areas such as terraces and roof gardens, or ground floor areas over basement rooms.

In these instances, walk-on skylights can act as a highly effective means of introducing natural daylight into the rooms beneath. They can be manufactured to a range of strengths and sizes to fit a project’s exact requirements and, what’s more, this can be done at the cost of an off-the-shelf product, albeit with a slightly longer lead time.

Once a skylight system is installed, it is often difficult and costly to correct shortcomings, which is why it is crucial to consider all aspects at the early design stage.

Higher volumes of glazing

Specialist coatings can be applied to glass during the manufacturing process to reduce heat loss, which is especially useful in larger living spaces with higher volumes of glazing. Similarly, glass can be treated to control solar gain, thus providing high light transmission levels without it feeling too hot and uncomfortable in the space below during summer months. This is far more effective than trying to block sunlight with internal overhead blinds alone, as this can actually increase the potential for over-heating by concentrating the heat area and may also result in product failure.

Glass skylights can be many times heavier than a polycarbonate alternative, which can complicate the installation process and in the case of a refurbishment, may be too heavy for the existing roof structure. To manage your costs it’s advisable to consider at the outset whether your desired skylight solution requires lifting equipment, and in the case of larger structures, is there adequate access around the property to deliver products to the roof? In cases involving terraced properties, it can be necessary to crane larger, heavier structures over roof tops.

Manhandling larger structures is not advisable as it can affect the assembly and weather proofing of the skylight if roughly handled and the skylight becomes twisted or distorted.

Maintenance issues

Clear glazing looks spectacular when clean but it is more difficult to maintain as any contamination is clearly visible from below. Low maintenance glass, sometimes referred to as ‘self-cleaning’, can be specified although this requires a slight gradient to allow for surface water runoff, and should still be cleaned a couple of times a year.

You may also wish to consider incorporating a prime diffusing medium such as Lumira aerogel (formerly known as nanogel) into overhead glazing options to give a shadow-less diffused light without high spots of contrasting glare. Lumira offers excellent insulation benefits, reductions in energy losses, airborne noise and impact from heavy rainfall.

Given its superior impact resistance, it is also ideal for the roof space above indoor swimming pools.

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