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Community and Q&A

Acrylic-Glazed Windows

Jamie B | Posted in General Questions on

The other day I shattered one of my windows. I was using a powered hand planer and my be guess is a piece of the carbide blade chipped of shot out the exhaust and struck the inner pane and shattered it. Whoops…

Next, I’m designing a small loft over garage, new build. And I want to do long and narrow fixed glazing. For example 3’x16′. So I’m thinking of site building these windows and in estimating the cost of the glass, given my experience now (not that I plan to do construction in the house anymore) but my initial thought was this will be a pain financially to replace should it break for whatever reason, even during construction.

So I google acrylic glazing and sure enough this is a thing. With very similar stats to our normal glass glazing. The only thing not mentioned is coatings like low E.

So let me ask the GBA community. Is there a reason why acrylic windows aren’t a thing?

Has anyone used them before Or otherwise have experience?

Please share,

Thanks

Jamie

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Replies

  1. Expert Member
    Zephyr7 | | #1

    Acrylic scratches very easily compared to glass. It’s easier to polish scratches out though. You can’t use any ammonia based cleaners on acrylic, since they’ll cause it to haze. As far as I know; there are no coatings available for acrylic. Acrylic can yellow over time due to UV exposure. Those are the negatives. The positive is acrylic is less likely to shatter. Polycarbonate is even more impact resistant than acrylic if you want a super durable glazing material, but it has similar negatives to acrylic to those I mentioned earlier.

    Bill

  2. Jamie B | | #2

    Apparently the yellowing isn't a thing anymore. Or at least the plexiglass brand of acrylic guarantees non-yellowing for 30 years.

    https://www.ledil.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/PLEXIGLAS_Garantie.pdf

    Interesting point on ammonia cleaners

  3. Chris D | | #3

    There are various brands and flavors of polycarb and acrylic that have UV coatings and/or are UV stabilized for exterior glazing.

    There is also multiwall polycarbonate sheet with UV coating, which is often used in massive expanses of glazing and for things like greenhouse walls. It doesn't have the low optical distortion of clear singlewall acrylic or polycarb sheet, but it's fine for letting light in or for privacy/security (there are types made for obscuring views as well). If it's on a high wall area for example where you can't see out of it, is there a need to be optically clear?

    It can have some decent insulating properties depending on the total thickness and number of walls, similar concept to double or triple glazing. I've seen up to 7-wall sheet in 20 or 25mm thickness, which is probably a fairly serious R-value for relatively inexpensive window glazing (I don't know actual values).

    I've used it in the past, and I'm going to be making my site fab'd shed windows out of it. Kind of a cool material.

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