Most of us will have seen magnificent glass canopy designs at the entrance to office blocks, shopping centres, hotels, leisure centres, train centres and subways. Sweeping the facade of a building, they look impressive and aesthetically striking as the sun and the sky are reflected from gleaming glass panels.
Glass canopies can be used on a much smaller scale domestically, to cover a walkway or protect a window. They are popular because they allow maximum natural light to penetrate, they are durable, and their minimalist design makes them a modern and stylish addition.
Whether you are installing a glass canopy to be a stunning finishing touch to a major commercial project or as a practical addition to your home, the following tips will help to ensure your glass canopy project is a success from start to finish.
1. Research Online
Whatever size project you are undertaking, your glass canopy needs to start with some research. Peruse photographs of glass canopies in similar settings to the one you have in mind to get an idea of what works. It could be a glass canopy over a doorway to provide protection from the elements, a canopy to provide shade from the sun over your home’s outdoor area, or perhaps you want to dramatically enhance the entrance to a property.
Before you contact a glazier, you can get some ideas online about the type of glass canopy you would like. Take a look at some pictures and start planning your standard design or custom-made glass canopy.
2. Sketch Your Design
A glazier will provide you with the glass for your canopy but, unless it is frameless, you will also need an engineer to plan the frame for the glass.
To give your engineer an idea of the type of structure you are looking for, you can start sketching out your plans. Then when you need help from an expert, they will have a good starting point.
3. Contact the Experts
You will need advice about your glass canopy to ensure safety and compliance with building acts and codes, and glazing requirements.
A glass canopy can be supported using a variety of steel backup structures or laminated glass fins and it needs to be safe in heavy wind, rain and snow. Frames can be made from materials such as mild steel, stainless steel, aluminium or timber with glass bolted on top, or you can choose a lightweight floating glass skin on top or underneath a structure.
Here’s a few points to show you why you need expert advice for your glass canopy design:
- Canopies that span large expanses need extra reinforcement.
- A Spider Canopy is ideal for residential and commercial applications where there are large panes and support spans. Spider fittings transfer the loads from the glass of the canopy to the supporting members.
- Points of support will need to be analysed to ensure stress and deflection are within acceptable limits.
- Frameless glass canopies use struts or wires as static bolts, which can cause the glass to crack.
- Special fittings may be needed that provide a degree of rotation. Swivel glass connectors are designed with rotation to reduce the stress around the holes in the glass.
- Common or generic fittings may not be suitable for glass canopies as connections between glass and steel can be fragile.
4. Find a Reputable Glazier
A glazier will need to fix the glass on top of the structure that you or your engineer build. A reliable glazier, like a technician from Ecotech Glass, will advise you on the type of glass most suitable for your design and the most practical way to fix the glass to the structure. Glass canopies use toughened laminated safety glass. You will need to choose your glass type, hardware, fixing method and general design with advice from an Ecotech expert.
5. Choose Your Glass
Choose from clear, extra clear, reflective, self-cleaning, tinted, coloured, patterned or glass that is digitally printed with your choice of design, special effect, or image. You can be as subtle or as bold as you like.
Patterns on glass will help to conceal dirt and bird droppings. Shading glass is ideal to reduce unwanted heat gain.
6. Consider the Practicalities
- Your glass canopy will need to incorporate a slope or angle to eliminate ponding of water.
- Gutters can be connected to the glass for water drainage.
You will need to work out the safe measurement for any overhang past the fixing points. As a rule of thumb, you can multiply the thickness of the glass by 35 to calculate the maximum measurement in millimetres that the glass can overhang the fixing point.
Bear in mind that the surface of the canopy is likely to get hot due to the absorption and angle to the sun. Also, your glass canopy has to be durable enough to deal with extremes of weather, from strong winds to heavy rain and snow.
A glass canopy provides a sleek, contemporary look to any property. You will be pleased you made the choice to add a glass canopy because of the benefits it offers in terms of durability, longevity and maintenance.