Choosing A Glass Roof
Everything you need to know about glass roofing.
Homeowners, architects, and contractors are somewhat spoiled for choice when it comes to glazing. There are countless different products and installations that are available, from simple windows to elaborate atriums, pivoting doors, and pop-up glass floors. Making a decision as to which option is best can be tricky when the sky’s the limit – a phrase that becomes particularly poignant when thinking about glass roofs.
Glass roofs are hugely effective at transforming the interior aesthetic of a property, and present some of the most versatile and impactful glazing solutions. It’s a bit misleading, however, to simply refer to ‘glass roofs’ as though they were a single product or entity – there are many different types, styles, and designs, and there are all sorts of things you’ll need to consider when choosing one.
Depending on your property and your requirements, different types of glass roof will be most appropriate. This guide will provide you with everything you need to know when considering the various types of rooflight for your project.
(Updated October 2022)
Why install a glass roof?
So why choose a rooflight in the first place? What makes these installations so appealing, and what benefits do they offer a property? Understanding these concepts is an important and valuable step in establishing which kind of roof will suit your home or project most.
Pus, with horror stories about glass roofs gone wrong making headlines, which demonstrate the risks of poorly specified installations, it’s never been more important to thoroughly do your research and ensure you’re choosing the right glazing specialist for your project.
Glass roofs offer limitless customisability
It’s easy to assume glass roofs come in only a handful of options – opening or fixed, big or small. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Glazing technology and production is now so advanced that specialists can design and install roofs with essentially limitless freedom.
This means glass roofs can be subtle or dramatic, designed to fit into almost any space, and they can be designed in any configuration of opening or fixed functionality. Roofs can slide open, pop-up, or pivot, and can be operated manually or remotely. They can also feature almost any kind of glass, including single, double, or even triple glazing.
The result? Glass roofs are one of the most versatile glazing installations available.
Glass roofs boost natural light
We all need natural light, on a daily basis, to feel our best. Our physical and psychological health are both dependent on a multitude of factors, of which natural light is an important one. It directly impacts our body’s ability to produce Vitamin D (which is important for our health), and consistent and regular exposure helps govern our circadian rhythms.
Glass roofs are one of the most effective ways of getting natural light into a space. By offering a portal to the sky from directly above (rather than at a horizontal angle, as with a window), glass roofs flood interior spaces with natural light. They’re a fantastic way to make an interior space more conducive to wellbeing.
True luxury aesthetic
Glass roofs also offer an opportunity to add an authentic luxury aesthetic flair to a property. This is a factor that is dependent on the design, but that proves one of the most compelling propositions for many homeowners.
Using toughened glass, the completely frameless and seamless designs we can now create are evocative of an aspirational lifestyle, and are almost certain to draw the eye in almost any home or space. Whatever the character of a given property, the unobtrusive nature of a glass roof often makes it the perfect luxury addition.
Increase property value
One of the goals of many homeowners is for their home to, eventually, make them some money. Ensuring a property grows in value is a priority for many homeowners, and simply holding out hope for natural growth in market value isn’t always enough. By adding new features to your home – particularly those that make it more efficient, or more visually appealing – you can greatly increase it’s financial worth.
A glass roof can be the perfect installation for this kind of boost to value. This is particularly true if the roof is unique, structural, and beautiful (the better a glass roof looks and the more well-built it is, the more it adds to a home in terms of worth!). While there are no hard and fast calculations to measure any potential increases by (there are too many variables), consultation with an architect or specialist can give you more of an insight.
Choosing a glass roof – types of rooflight
So with all of these many benefits in mind, what about actually choosing a glass roof? What choices are there? And how can you determine which type or style will best suit your own requirements?
In short, it’ll depend on a few things, but for the most part, it will depend on the provider or specialist you choose to work with. If you opt for an ‘off the shelf’ glass roof, then while you know what you’re getting, you’ll be limited to the restrictions of that product range.
However, if you work directly with a structural glazing specialist such as Cantifix, you’ll have the benefit of almost limitless potential when it comes to your designs. With the power of the latest in architectural glazing technology and technique at your fingertips, you’ll be able to create almost any kind of glass roof – so what are your options?
The panels – single, or multiple?
Glass roofs are divided into either single or multiple panel installations. This basically means they either have one pane of glass set in a frame, or several panes joined together. The minimal simplicity of frameless single-pane roofs offers a stark visual contrast to a ceiling-length framed multi-panel product, and choosing which is most appropriate will depend on a few things.
When to choose a single panel:
Single panel roofs are ideal for properties where aesthetic is key, and a luxury appearance is preferred. They don’t offer as much light as multi-panel roofs often can, but it’s easier to make them look sleek and unobtrusive. They’re also usually more affordable!
When to choose a multiple panel roof:
When you’re looking to make a statement, provide a visual link between floors in a building, or create an access point to a rooftop/external area, a multi-panel roof might be more appropriate. They come in any number of framing styles, and can still feature any additional glazing technology (see below).
The glass – what type of glazing?
When it comes to the actual glass in a roof, you might assume that this falls into a ‘one-size-fits-all’ category, but this isn’t actually the case. There is a lot of scope for customisation and alteration in the glass used, and the glazing technology you choose to implement will depend on your specific needs. What’s particularly exciting is that most of these can be used in conjunction with one another. A few examples include…
Safety should always be a primary concern with any structural design (in fact, it’s a legal requirement…) and if there’s any chance of anything falling on a glass roof from above, then toughened glass is a must. It’s also used if the installation will serve as a glass floor when walked on from above. It’s stronger, and more break-resistant.
Similarly to toughened glass, laminated glazing is used as a safety precaution, but it specifically involves multiple layers of glazing sandwiched around a PVB film. If the pane were to break, the glass would remain in one piece, and would hold together – rather than shattering. This can mean that in the unlikely event a roof were to break, no glass pieces would fall down into the space below.
Using a variety of different techniques including applying u-value coatings, glass roofs can be designed to improve the interior climate of the space below, by regulating the amount of heat that passes either way through the glazing. This can be an excellent way to improve energy-efficiency.
Glass might not seem like the most naturally-secure of materials, but with the addition of any number of security designs (including bullet and bomb-proofing), it can actually provide some of the best defence – it can even be rigged up to an internal alarm system.
Opening or closed?
One of the most important questions to ask yourself with any glass installation is what it’s purpose will be. Does it simply need to allow extra light into a space? Will it provide ventilation, and alter the interior climate? Or will it act as an entry or access point between an internal and external space? With this in mind, you’ll need to think about whether your glass roof needs to be able to open…
When to choose an opening roof:
If you want your glass roof to allow fresh air into your property, you’ll need to choose an opening roof. These come in a variety of forms, including pop-up, hinged, and sliding – and depending on the design can be used as entrances to things like rooftop spaces too.
When to choose a closed roof:
If your primary concern is light, not air quality, then you might not need an opening roof. A simple, single panel, fixed glass roof is a beautiful and seamless addition to a space, and if this is all you need then a closed roof is perfectly adequate. It’s also useful for installations that will be set into a high roof, which is hard to access for manual operation or maintenance.
How much does a glass roof cost?
This is often the biggest question that property owners, contractors, or architects will have when choosing a glass roof. Without taking the specifications and requirements of a particular project into account, it’s not really possible to provide a price.
Knowing whether or not certain options are within your budget is important, and it’s one of the first things to think about – but it’s also important to understand why prices can vary so wildly like this.
Generally speaking, the biggest thing that will impact the price point of a glass roof is whether or not it’s an ‘off the shelf’ product, or one that has been purpose-designed and built. The trade off is that while a budget option will give you the benefits of additional light and ventilation, that’s pretty much all it will give you.
A custom or bespoke glass design, on the other hand, means you can choose whatever kind of roof you like, by designing from scratch. With the right specialists, you can essentially create any kind of glass roof imaginable – meaning your designs will fit your plans, rather than your plans needing to fit the available designs.
Get in touch for more
If you’d like to know more about choosing your own glass roof, or you have a particular project in mind, don’t hesitate to get in touch via our contact form, email, or by giving us a call (simply click the links at the bottom of the page).
We look forward to hearing from you!