It’s summertime once again, and while the sun is shining, the Covid-19 situation means many of us are spending more time indoors than we might have planned… During this downtime, it’s become more apparent than ever that the ways our homes are designed have a massive impact on our interior environments.
One aspect of construction that has the most direct influence on our built spaces is glass. Glazing offers massive potential to complement and manage interior environments, and has a crucial role to play in everything from ventilation, temperature, light, and a connection to nature.
What’s particularly exciting is that when designed effectively, glass can be used to create interior environments that would otherwise be impossible to achieve. It’s so much more than a window to the outside world, and specialists like Cantifix have the technology and skills to make a space more pleasant. Whether you’re an architect or a homeowners planning a new extension or glass solution, here are some of the things you may not have known glass can do, which could transform your summer… (scroll for the full article)
The power of glazing
Fundamentally, glass impacts several areas of design more directly than others. Broadly speaking, glazing solutions have a most pivotal role to play in heat, ventilation, and light; on a purely surface level, these are quite obvious: glass can flood interior spaces with natural light, allow the sun to heat a room, and can provide a visual and practical connection between the indoors and the outdoors.
But with the right specialist knowledge, and the context of an individual space taken into account, these aspects of design can be managed through glazing to an astonishing level of control…
The interior climate of our homes and indoor environments is a vital factor in our comfort and wellbeing. Put simply, if a space is too hot, too cold, or features poor air quality, we can experience adverse effects to our mood, cognition and even physical wellbeing. Particularly in the summer, our homes can heat up rapidly to an uncomfortable level, and glass has a pivotal role to play in the interior climate of a space, with the ability to influence temperature and air quality directly.
In the most basic sense, glass solutions including windows, doors, and roofs can be fixed or opening, with opening solutions allowing breezes to drift into spaces and cool them down. On the flip side of this, though, it’s worth noting that windows can also act as components in the ‘greenhouse effect’, heating a space as the sun shines into it, and preventing that heat from escaping – this is why some conservatories, in the summer, can turn into something closer to an oven than a relaxing extension space…
What you didn’t know
Although we might associate windows and glass solutions as surfaces that let heat in, with the right glass, it’s also possible to keep unwanted heat out. There are a variety of technologies that specialists can use to implement what’s known as ‘solar control’. The most significant of these involve suspending a ‘heat mirror film’ within the double glazed unit. The film contains nanoscale coatings of metal, to reflect heat both back towards the sun, and back into the property from interior heating sources such as radiators.
When combined with low-e coated glass, these films considerably reduce the u-value of the glass (the amount of heat lost through the glazing, improving energy efficiency), and can offer 99.5% UV protection, along with a reduction in external noise by up to 20%. Additions such as these are an ideal way to ensure that even on the hottest summer day, your interior spaces remain cool, quiet, and welcoming.
Ventilation is an important part of every home for a number of reasons. It has the most significant impact on the air quality in our interior spaces, which in turn has an impact on our wellbeing in a wide variety of ways. For many of us, the summer months are synonymous with open windows, as we try and keep what little cool air there is flowing through our properties – and our glazing installations are a crucial part of this.
In the simplest sense, glazing solutions are either fixed – meaning they can’t be opened, which is usually more common for things like skylights or glass wall panels – or opening, meaning they can provide ventilation. The majority of windows – and all of the doors - in our homes will be opening solutions, but there are also a range of specialist installations that can further boost the ventilation in a space.
What you didn’t know
What many people may not be aware of is that when contracting a glazing specialist to design the glass installations for a property, almost any of these can be designed to open and provide ventilation. This is particularly important for solutions like glass roofs and floors – while many of us may have glass skylights in our home, often these can only be opened in a limited way, at a small angle, which doesn’t provide very significant ventilation – and can prove problematic should a summer storm make an appearance.
Hot air rises, and cool air falls, meaning that horizontal roof glazing offers a fantastic opportunity for good air circulation. Using electronic motors (which can be controlled remotely, even from things like smart devices), and a range of bespoke systems including hydraulics, glass roofs (which can also double as floors for roofs with exterior access) can slide, swing open, or even pop directly upwards.
These can be complemented with additional features such as safety and security systems – which can use lasers to detect when someone is walking on a roof and ensure it can’t be opened at the same time. These same detectors can also be programmed as rain sensors, meaning if a glass roof is left open and the heavens open, it can shut automatically to keep your home dry.
Coupled with the heat mirror films mentioned above, these solutions can become some of the most effective ways to keep your interior environment full of fresh, clean, cool air during the summer.
Natural light is one of the fundamental building blocks to our overall health and wellbeing. We need a plentiful supply of it to help our bodies produce vitamin D, and exposure to daylight has been directly linked to a range of health benefits including improved focus and concentration, better sleep and mood, and improved productivity. As many of us adapt to more home-working, ensuring we reap these benefits – particularly in the summer, when daylight is plentiful – will be more important than ever.
Glazing installations are, effectively, the best – and indeed only – way we allow natural light to flow into our homes. We spend around 90% of our lives indoors, and as the Covid19 crisis has led to many of us spending more time at home than ever before, ensuring our windows, doors, and other glass solutions allow as much light in as possible is vital. While our homes may be bright, and many of us may have large windows, what’s surprisingly important is not just that we have enough glass to let light in, but that it’s the right type of glass in the first place…
What you didn’t know
While it’s easy to assume that simply having plenty of glass is all that’s required to help us reap the benefits of natural light, there’s more to it than that. The type of glass used in our windows, doors, and more, has a crucial impact in just how beneficial the natural light we’re exposed to is.
All glass contains some levels of iron – this is the material that gives glazing its green tint, particularly when the glass panels are thick or there are several layers – but this also means that some of the rays of daylight don’t make it into our homes. One band wave of light in particular has the most direct impact on our biology: part of the blue light spectrum, 480nm (nanometres).
Not all glass is equally effective at allowing this band wave to pass through it, and this has big implications on just how good for us the daylight in our homes is. Cantifix use glass designed specifically to maximise this wavelength – this glazing is clearer, brighter, and more beneficial to our health, and its something only specialist suppliers are able to provide. All of our solutions can make use of this technology.
It’s also important to consider that maximising the amount of actual glass in an installation is important. Many solutions make use of hefty frames, and while the door, window, or roof light in question may be large, its frame may take up much of its total space.
Making use of minimal, unobstructed glazing is the most effective way to combat this. Working with solutions that use little or no framing means that every inch works to allow the right kind of daylight into a space. Making use of these kind of solutions on a home extension or new solution can make all the difference in the summer, turning a home that simply feels bright, into one flooded with daylight that directly benefits your wellbeing.
Bringing the outdoors inside
Glass isn’t just brilliant for letting light into a space – it’s also the tool architects and homeowners use to connect interior spaces with outdoor environments. This connection is more than simply aesthetic, as studies have shown that regular visual exposure to nature is essential to maintaining positive mental wellbeing and can even improve our cognitive abilities
A large window or glass door, particularly one that leads to a garden or generally ‘green’ exterior space, is a great way to keep a homeowner connected to nature. Homeowners can use simple solutions like these to provide views of the outside world, but with many of us continuing to spend more time at home more during the summer; the right solutions can do much more.
What you didn’t know
Glass can be used to create more than just a view of the outside world – specialist solutions can create permanent, seamless connections to the outdoors both practically and visually. Structural glass can be used to build entire walls and roofs from glazing, creating indoor spaces that give the sense that the inhabitants are ‘in nature’.
We can use a combination of solutions like walls, doors, and windows, to stitch together extension spaces and create glass rooms, which do more than simply connect your home to your garden – but make the two spaces feel part of the same space.
Sliding doors and opening roofs can even operate together to turn extension spaces into patios, and can blend and extend both your interior environments and garden spaces simultaneously, at the push of a button. Cantifix’s unique design such as our invisible corners can also remove any visual obstructions usually caused by walls or frames.
Key takeaways – the power of glass in the summer
With all of this considered, the potential for glass during the summer months is massive. Plentiful access to daylight, good ventilation, and interior climate control can all be maintained by glazing – and with the right combination of glazing technologies, can elevate an interior space to one that contributes actively to our physical and mental wellbeing.
Specialists glazing firms like Cantifix don’t just provide the solutions that homeowners and architects want, they use their expertise to work collaboratively with their clients to create spaces and environments that maximise the potential of glass. There are many elements of glazing that you may not be aware of, which can make the difference between a pleasant home improvement, and a transformative one. The right specialist will be able to take you through that process, and use glass in a way that others simply can’t.
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