Large display windows, office windows, and other prominent glass panels grace many commercial facilities, but they also face the ongoing risk of damage. Cracked windows reduce energy efficiency and disfigure your facility, while shattered glass offers an open door to burglary and vandalism of interior spaces.
If you worry about the vulnerabilities created by the various window panels in your facility, you’ll want to learn about options that resist damage better than standard glass. Consider the features and benefits of the following three alternatives in your quest to toughen your windows.
- Polycarbonate: A Shatter-Resistant Option
If you have ever purchased a pair of eyeglasses for a child or athlete, you may have heard that polycarbonate lenses offer greater eye protection against shattering for these active individuals. The same benefit holds true for windows made of this durable, flexible resin.
Manufacturers classify polycarbonate as a thermoplastic because of its behavior in the face of high temperatures. Polycarbonate melts into liquid form at 155 degrees Celsius without degrading, which enables manufacturers to mold it into a variety of shapes and forms.
The pliability of polycarbonate gives it great impact resistance, allowing it to bend and absorb collisions instead of shattering into shards. This material boasts 200 times the strength of glass but only half the weight, making it ideal for large installations, such as sports arenas.
If you want a tough window material that also helps to prevent the effects of ultraviolet (UV) rays, consider polycarbonate. Polycarbonate naturally blocks up to 99 percent of UV energy, as opposed to the 50 percent offered by untreated glass.
One potential downside of polycarbonate involves its tendency to scratch. The same pliability that makes it so shatter resistant also permits impacts to leaves scratches. You may prefer to reserve it for high roofs and other areas where scratches will appear less obvious.
- Plexiglass: Cost-Effective Strength
Like polycarbonate, plexiglass belongs to the family of materials known as thermoplastics. You’ll also hear it referred to as polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA). One of the perks is that plexiglass is stronger than glass. At the same time, it offers greater clarity, load resistance, and scratch resistance than polycarbonate.
Plexiglass usually costs less than either glass or polycarbonate. Once installed, it presents onlookers with an attractive shine while filtering incoming UV rays, thus protecting interior fabrics from fading and occupants from conditions such as skin cancer.
Before you choose plexiglass over polycarbonate, bear in mind that this material has a few cons to counterbalance its many pros. While it resists scratches better than polycarbonate, its greater brittleness makes it vulnerable to chipping. While it resists impacts better than glass, it can break more easily than polycarbonate.
Plexiglass makes a sensible choice when you want a tough, transparent, UV-resistant window or display panels that don’t necessarily have to withstand extremes such as hailstones or baseballs. Alternate it with polycarbonate in your facility to keep material costs down.
- Safety Film: The Power of Plastic
You may already have an array of glass windows that do a fine job of enhancing the beauty of your facility and its wares, resisting scratches from light impacts, and blocking at least some incoming UV radiation. If you want to strengthen these windows against stronger impacts without necessarily replacing them, consider installing safety film.
Safety film adheres to one side of a glass window. When properly applied, this plastic film does not affect the window’s good looks or transparency. However, it shows its true value whenever someone or something hurls an object into the window at high speed. The glass shatters, but the safety film remains intact.
You may already understand how safety film gets its name if you have ever seen a shattered car windshield. Automakers reinforce windshields by laminating a layer of safety film between two sheets of glass. The film contains the glass shards so that they can’t injure the vehicle’s occupants.
Safety glass also acts as a valuable deterrent to attempted burglars. The extra time that it would take for a would-be burglar to penetrate the layer of safety film increases their odds of getting caught, especially with an activated alarm alerting the authorities and calling public attention to the criminal act.
While safety film won’t prevent glass from shattering, it does allow you to keep using your handsome, naturally scratch-resistant glass windows. Safety films also greatly increase your windows’ UV resistance. Tinted safety films can even boost your building’s thermal efficiency, lowering your energy costs.
Don’t lose sleep over your commercial window’s safety, structural integrity, or cosmetic damage resistance. Ken Caryl Glass, Inc., can recommend and install window materials that have the right balance of toughness, affordability, and practicality for your specific needs. Contact us today to tell us about your situation, learn more about your options, and request a quote.