Choosing a conservatory roof

Choosing a conservatory roof

Picking the right roof for your conservatory needs some thought and consideration. Designers often concern themselves with the actual design or look of the building while builders are focused on the construction itself or how familiar there are with certain materials, e.g. tiles. A key consideration though is the material you use for the roof. Although there are different materials one can use, ranging from budget polycarbonate to lantern roofs you must remember not to make the choice based solely on the initial cost of construction.

Cheaper roofs may be cheaper to install but often their owners end up being unhappy with them because they become too hot in summer and too expensive to heat in winter. This effectively reduces the amount of time you can use your conservatory and reduces the actual value of your investment – something to consider when thinking of selling your house on.

With conservatories, the main choice of material will be glass. This in itself also needs consideration since there are different options that need to be considered. These include:

Heat reflective glass
Laminated glass
Self clean glass

We will look at each one in turn.

This glass allows you to use your conservatory in the height of summer without it turning into a type of greenhouse. It also reduces the glare from bright sunlight while allowing light to come through on dull days. In recent years heat reflective glass has proved very popular.

It is also known as ‘energy efficient glass’ or ‘low e-glass’. It has a metallic coating on one side that makes the glass have a slight brown/gray tint to it. In effect this coating allows the sun’s energy to pass through from the outside but then reduces the heat loss from the inside. What is important here is that it does not provide heat insulation on its own and needs to be part or a double or triple glazed unit to provide substantial insulation.

Heat reflective glass comes in two types, sputtered (or soft-coat) and pyrolytic (or hard-coat). Sputtered glass is susceptible to damage by air or moisture so is usually used on sealed double or triple glazed units. Pyrolytic is more robust so therefore does not have to be sealed, but is less effective at keeping the heat out of your conservatory when it gets hot outside.

Laminated glass adds strength to your glass to stop it easily breaking – which makes it great for security and safely. What’s key to know here is that it is different from toughened glass because it does shatter when you absolutely need to break it, say with the advent of a fire. You may be familiar with this sort of glass because it is often used in car windscreens. So when hit with force, the glass will smash into tiny pieces and not huge chunks that can cause damage.

Toughened glass on the other hand is strong also, but either won’t break when you need it to, or with enough force, will break into larger more dangerous pieces.

Laminated glass is slightly thicker than normal but does have better insulation properties to both the cold and noise.

Self-cleaning glass sounds great and is actually very clever. It works by having a very thin photocatalytic coating on its surface. The sun’s ultraviolet rays then hit this coating and steadily breaks down dirt and grime from the glass so it can be washed away when it rains. So with the sun acting as a sort of cleaner (photocatalytic) and the rain acting as a sort of rinse aid (hydrophilic) you end up with cleaner glass for much longer.

Self-clean glass can also be specified with heat reflective glass so ensure you consider both options before you purchase.

In conclusion, you need to think through how you could potentially use your new conservatory. If you like the idea of adding more months to the year when you can comfortably use your conservatory then you need to carefully consider the types of glass you can have.


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