How ‘Self Cleaning’ Glass Works – The Benefits Of Low Maintenance Glazing
Structural glazing is a big investment, and the prospect of having to keep a large quantity of glass clean can be daunting. Fortunately, technology exists that can ensure glazing is low maintenance, and that you don’t have to compromise on your aesthetic choices. So how exactly does ‘self cleaning glass’ work, and what are the benefits?
How does self cleaning glass work?
Self cleaning glass is a bit of a misnomer, as it doesn’t strictly clean itself, at least entirely. A more appropriate name would be ‘low maintenance glass’. All self-cleaning glass goes through a treatment process that can be applied to almost any glass installation when it’s fabricated; this includes Enduroshield, which is the treatment we use at Cantifix.
In simple terms, it is a microscopic coating bonded to the outer surface of your glass. As it is permanently bonded, it will not require any further applications or treatments for at least 10 years, as opposed to more traditional coatings that simply sit on top of the glass and wash off over time.
The coating works on a molecular level to make the glass both hydrophobic and oleophobic: resistant to both water and oil. This is particularly important in areas with hard water, which includes up to 60% of the UK, as this can leave milky deposits. Oil can also come in the form of finger and hand prints, among other things – something to consider for high traffic areas, or spaces that tiny tots might be using.
The coating acts as a barrier to etching, staining, and most dirt and grime. When it rains, these are washed away in a uniform manner with far fewer streaks, and thus less need to clean your windows. In fact, low maintenance glass can reduce the time spent cleaning glass by up to 90% when compared to glass that hasn’t been treated.
As the layer is microscopic and transparent, it won’t have any effect on the light transmittance or clarity of the glass.
This is especially important for projects made with our Solstice Glass, which has been developed to let in the maximum amount of health-giving sunlight possible. The coating is also resistant to UV light, meaning it will not degrade over time like some other coatings, keeping your glass looking as good as it did on the day it was installed.
Low maintenance glass coating is especially advised in marine areas such as seaside properties, where there will be heavy salt deposits in the air; or in interior swimming pools, due to the high levels of condensation and chlorine particles, all of which can leave behind regular stains.
Consider low maintenance glass for harder to reach areas
Whether coated or not, roof glazing can be notoriously difficult to keep clean. This is even more pertinent if the roof is flat with no real angle or incline, as there will be less chance of water being able to wash over it and remove collected debris. Factor in that roofs tend to be fairly inaccessible, especially if you don’t have opening windows, and you can have an almost impossible task on your hands – but it needn’t be so difficult: low maintenance glass coatings can really cut this worry.
It is worth noting that for most low maintenance glass to work, there needs to be pitch of some kind for the water to have a chance to drain away. However, this is something you can discuss with us when it comes to designing what works best for you and your space.
Additional benefits of choosing low maintenance glass
In addition to keeping your glass cleaner for longer periods, low maintenance glass can improve efficiency in a number of other areas:
Environmental benefits of self cleaning glass.
The ecological impact of maintaining large glass structures is also something to consider. Glass that has been treated will negate the need to use harsh chemical cleaners and will lower water consumption, as there will be a greater period of time between washes – something that’s particularly relevant for structures with a high volume of glass.
Architects have chosen this option on green building projects in the past. As well as contributing points for LEED green building ratings as a result of reducing waste, the ability to treat any glass keeps the glass options of a build as sustainable as possible.
Benefits for the construction industry
Projects with ongoing building work can get extra help, as a self-cleaning glass coating protects against the etchings caused by building work and splatter on glass, especially if razors are required to help remove it.
How to keep structural glazing clean
Keeping glass installations clean is likely to be high on the list of queries for clients & homeowners, particularly with larger projects. If the glass has a low maintenance coating then cleaning should be minimal, as any water that hits the glazing will roll straight off, taking droplets of contaminants with it.
Keeping the glass looking as clear as the day it was installed is fairly simple, with or without the coating the upkeep is similar – it is mainly the frequency of necessary cleaning that will vary.
A hose used over the glazing during drier weather should negate the need to do a full clean; and a lint free cloth or a flat microfiber mop is ideal for harder to reach areas. If clients are keen for instruction, you can recommend a drop of white vinegar on the cloth as well as a small amount of non abrasive liquid soap, such as dish or hand soap, followed by a rinse with clean water and dry. Try to clean exterior glass when it is a dull day or in the shade as it will dry slower, and is less likely to streak.
For interior glass that has a higher rate of usage, or in high traffic areas such as glass stairs or floors, you may need to clean more regularly, even with a coating. For these and for internal water deposits, such as a room with a pool, try to use a squeegee regularly, and clean as above.
When in doubt, check with your specialist as they’ll be able to provide advice specific to your project – and will often be happy to liaise with your clients directly. In general, it is usually a better/easier idea to call in professional cleaners, especially as most will use filtered water, lessening the chance of staining or residue from deposits in the water. Regardless, low maintenance glass should greatly reduce the frequency of these visits, leaving your clients’ glass looking cleaner for longer.
When investing in a dream glass-based project, don’t let the fear of maintenance deter you. There are many modern solutions to creating – and cleaning – the perfect glass box extension.
It’s important to consider upkeep in the early stages of planning your build, and Cantifix are happy to offer solutions and assistance as the design progresses. For a majority of high glass volume properties with plenty of exposed glazing, it is worth considering a low maintenance glass coating such as Enduroshield, for the ecological and monetary (not to mention time) savings that they offer. These are all things that we can discuss with you when planning your build, so feel free to get in touch – we cannot wait to get started.