Place under the sun: why do you need a transparent roof and top 5 materials for it

Envision an area that is abundant with natural light, with the sky overhead serving as your ceiling and the sun softly warming the surrounding air. Any space becomes a bright, sunny haven with a transparent roof. Transparent roofs add beauty and functionality to spaces such as greenhouses, covered patios, and conservatories.

However, why choose transparency? Transparent roofs are more visually appealing and foster a feeling of openness and outdoor space. By optimizing natural light, it lessens the need for artificial lighting during the day and fosters an atmosphere that uses less energy. It can also improve a room’s overall atmosphere, giving it a bigger, cozier feel.

For your transparent roof to last and look good, the right material selection is essential. The top five materials currently in widespread use are as follows:

1. **Glass**: Glass provides unparalleled transparency and durability, and it is well-known for its clarity and resistance to different weather conditions. It is suitable for a variety of climates because it can be coated or tinted to reduce heat and glare.

2. **Polycarbonate**: A common material for transparent roofing, polycarbonate is renowned for being lightweight and impact-resistant. It offers flexibility in design and energy efficiency because it is available in a variety of tints and thicknesses.

3. **Acrylic**: Optically clear and long-lasting in terms of appearance, acrylic is preferred over polycarbonate due to its higher transparency and UV resistance. Being lightweight and simple to install, it’s perfect for do-it-yourself projects.

4. **Fiberglass**: This material is flexible and strong, making it appropriate for a range of architectural styles. Fiberglass panels offer a variety of light transmission options and frequently include UV protection. They can also be translucent or opaque.

5. **PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)**: Convenient to install and maintain, PVC panels are lightweight and reasonably priced. They come in clear or tinted varieties and offer options for both residential and commercial applications. They also offer good insulation.

Every one of these materials has advantages, ranging from energy efficiency and durability to visual appeal and simplicity of installation. In order to design a space that not only lets the sun shine in but also enhances the beauty and functionality of your environment, take into account your climate, maintenance preferences, and desired aesthetic when choosing a transparent roof material.

Place under the sun: why do you need a transparent roof Top 5 materials for it
1. Natural Light: Transparent roofs allow natural sunlight into indoor spaces, reducing the need for artificial lighting. 1. Polycarbonate: Lightweight and durable, it offers good insulation and UV protection.
2. Aesthetic Appeal: They enhance architectural aesthetics by creating a modern and airy atmosphere. 2. Glass: Provides a sleek and transparent look, ideal for aesthetic-focused designs.
3. Energy Efficiency: They can help in passive solar heating during winters, reducing energy consumption. 3. ETFE Foil: Known for its lightweight and flexibility, used in modern architectural projects.
4. Ventilation: Some designs allow for natural ventilation, improving indoor air quality. 4. Fiberglass: Offers strength and durability, suitable for various weather conditions.
5. Outdoor Connection: They create a seamless connection between indoor and outdoor spaces. 5. Acrylic: Similar to glass but lighter and more impact-resistant, commonly used in DIY projects.

5 reasons to make the roof of a canopy, arbors or terrace transparent

Beauty is the primary factor. There is no denying the beauty and picturesqueness of a transparent roof. This is one of the rare occasions when an architectural technique truly resembles any style, no matter where it is in the timeline. Do you prefer loft style or minimalism? In the courtyard of such a home, there will be a gazebo with a plain rectangular frame and a flat, transparent roof. Do you like the classics better? Therefore, the best option for a canopy is an arched transparent roof. Yes, even the uncommon baroque style today complements a clear roof nicely if it holds up a complex frame made of numerous forged elements.

The sun itself is the second justification. Daytime:

  • improves mood, helps from depression;
  • Visually makes the space more voluminous, and the roof is significantly higher than it really is;
  • destroys harmful microorganisms;
  • It is necessary for the normal growth of plants, which often decorate the recreation areas.

Transparent roofs provide light, which is essential for plant growth, and do not loom over people or foster the growth of fungi and pathogenic microbes.

The third justification is less evident: while a transparent roof lets in sunlight, it also shields against UV radiation. This means that while it can be placed beneath it, practically all of the materials used to build transparent roofs are not burnable and either completely block or significantly delay the effects of ultraviolet light. As a result, a transparent roof for a terrace is a great substitute for an entirely open area because it will shield it from the rain and prevent sunlight interference.

The breathtaking view, both during the day and at night, is the fourth reason. For instance, a transparent roof on the balcony lets you warmly and comfortably view the starry sky without having to leave the house.

And the last, fifth reason – Savings on the heating of the house, If transparent roof is made at the extension. For example, a transparent roof on a closed veranda. At first glance, this is illogical, because a significant part of the warmth of the house – about 20% – goes through the windows. And here is one large window. A lot of heat is lost through a transparent roof. That"s just getting even more. The fact is that ordinary windows are installed vertically, and the roof is always tilled, so the rays fall on it at an angle, which is much closer to 90 °. As a result, despite the large area of ​​glazing, there is more heat through the roof than it leaves. And this should not surprise: the greenhouses do not surprise anyone, and they are completely made of transparent material. Therefore, the roof is transparent in a closed room – this is an additional source of heat, and not only in autumn and spring, but also in winter.

TOP-5 materials for a transparent roof

Transparency is a feature, not the sole component of a building. This glass, along with the incredibly strong monolithic polycarbonate and flexible wavy pvc lists, is a centuries-old classic. Generally speaking, there are numerous transparent materials available; you just need to select one. Furthermore, how are you not confused? We respond: Make use of our material rating for a clear roof. After examining the characteristics of five transparent materials, we prioritized them so that they would overlap the roof. Naturally, this rating is skewed and only represents our viewpoint; your preferences may differ greatly. However, we still hope that this top list will be helpful to you.

No. 1: monolithic polycarbonate

Monolithic polycarbonate, the substance that revolutionized the construction of translucent structures, ranked #1 in our ranking. Because of its structure and manufacturing process, monolithic polycarbonate is frequently referred to as "continuous" or "cast." Polycarbonate granules are simply heated, and the resulting melt is then pressed to create the plates. Consequently, a continuous sheet devoid of voids and impurities is produced.

Because of the one-piece construction, a polycarbonate sheet

  1. Incredibly durable. Monolithic polycarbonate is hundreds of times stronger than glass, and its shock viscosity is so great that it cannot be measured with standard test tests without a cut – the material simply cannot be destroyed.
  2. It passes the light perfectly – The translucency of the material reaches 90%.
  3. Fire safety. Monolithic polycarbonate does not burn, does not support combustion and does not spread the flame.
  4. It holds the heat well – the thermal conductivity of the sheet is 0.21 W/(m · ° C), which is significantly smaller than that of glass.
  5. Absorbs noise – from 18 to 23 dB, depending on the thickness.
  6. It is easily bending – For thin sheets, bending radius is only 430 mm.
  7. Resistant to alcohols, weak solutions of acids, organic fats.
  8. Does not break – No sharp chips and fragments, like glass.
  9. Heat -resistant: can be used in the temperature range from -50 ° C to +120 ° C.
  10. Just installed: easily cut and attached.

A monolithic polycarbonate transparent roof is incredibly resilient; it can withstand hail, branch falls, and even the occasional tennis or soccer ball strike. However, a sturdy, clear roof is not everything. Because of high-quality photography, even extremely thick sheets appear elegant on a monolithic polycarbonate roof, which is always light and graceful. particularly if there is an arched roof.

Overall, monolithic polycarbonate earned its first place with great merit. Even though he is flawed:

  1. High price. This is an expensive material that is only inferior to the glass.
  2. Fire drops. Under the influence of high temperatures, monolithic polycarbonate does not burn, but melts. Hot drops drip down and can lead to the fire of materials under the sheet.
  3. Damage by alkalis and aromatic hydrocarbons. Therefore, the means for cleaning the roof will need to be carefully selected.
  4. Flaw over time. High translucency remains with monolithic polycarbonate for a long time – for decades. But when the protective UV film erases, it will inevitably begin to clutch.

The listed’s primary disadvantage is, naturally, its cost. Materials are therefore required for others if you require a transparent roof for a canopy on a budget. The same thin-leafed steel used to make corrugated board is also used to profile the same polycarbonate, which is produced in the same manner as a continuous sheet. And according to our ranking, this material’s properties put it in second place.

No. 2: Profiled polycarbonate

It is possible to construct a transparent, sturdy roof out of profiled polycarbonate in addition to monolithic materials. Extrusion is the process used to create this material, which involves pushing and pulling the polymer through a template with a cross section that is shaped like a trapezoid with many waves or corrugations. Consequently, a profiled light-permeable sheet is produced, which is a great material for a terrace’s transparent roof:

  • withstands up to 350 kg/m 2 static load with a thickness of 0.8-2 mm;
  • Holds the shock load well – shock viscosity of profiled polycarbonate 163 kJ/m²;
  • Fire safety, Like any kind of polycarbonate;
  • lightly translated – misses up to 90% of sunlight;
  • Very little weighs: 1.17-2.9 kg/m², depending on the thickness;
  • can be used At temperatures from -50 °C to +100 °C;
  • It bends well with a radius of 4 m;
  • Very Easy to install;
  • It is relatively inexpensive – from 450 rubles per 1 m 2 .

Of course, a profiled transparent roof performs as well as or worse than a monolithic polycarbonate roof in terms of most attributes, with the exception of weight. However, profiled polycarbonate is far less expensive, and installing it is so easy that even a novice can do it on their own. The following video demonstrates how to install a transparent polycarbonate roof by hand. Even though the video is very clear, you can choose Russian and enable subtitles if you need a translation.

Simultaneously, a transparent polycarbonate terrace roof featuring trapezoidal and wave-shaped corrugations appears incredibly elegant because the profiled sheets are fastened above the crate rather than to the aluminum profile frame.

One other intriguing characteristic of profiled polycarbonate is that the form of the profile in some of its species matches the profile of common corrugated board grades, like C20 or C21. When a transparent polycarbonate roof transitions into an opaque coating from a steel profiled sheet, this makes the installation of combined roofs easier. It’s very practical to have a transparent roof for arbors and terraces because you can enjoy the sun in the morning and evening and cool off in the shade on hot days.

The following are profiled polycarbonate’s principal drawbacks:

  • melting and formation of drops during burning;
  • destruction by alkalis and aromatic hydrocarbons;
  • clouding over time;
  • the possibility of breaking through the impact;
  • poor sound and thermal insulation;
  • service life up to 30 years.

The first three drawbacks apply to all varieties of polycarbonate. The remainder are a result of the material’s form. Yes, profiled polycarbonate can produce a strong, transparent roof that can easily withstand the snow load typical of the nation’s central and southern regions. She can take a normal hailstorm or a tennis ball blow. However, a profiled polycarbonate roof might not fit if there has been a significant hailstorm in the area or if there is a transparent terrace roof beneath the cornice overhangs. If a thick monolithic sheet can withstand the icicle drop, then there isn’t any thin corrugated material.

The thickness of the material also affects noise reduction and poor thermal insulation. It is not thick enough to effectively retain heat or lessen noise levels. However, with a 25-year service life, nothing is evident; this is hardly a significant disadvantage considering that there are roofing materials that last just as long. Furthermore, the issue here is not one of tightness violation—that will probably last much longer—but rather one of transparency, which will unavoidably decline as a result of dust and snow layers collecting and creating microzarapins.

Generally speaking, profiled polycarbonate is practically the ideal material when a transparent, sturdy roof is required on a tight budget.

No. 3: Profiled PVC

In contrast to profiled polycarbonate, the qualities of a transparent PVC plastic roof can vary greatly based on the producer. Generally, one axis of extrusion is used to extend profiled PVC; materials from all manufacturers fall into this category, with the exception of French ONDEX.

Since Ondex’s transparent slate is drawn in two axes at once rather than one, it differs significantly from other roofing pvc lists. Dioxide orientation is the name of the patented technology used in this application. Compared to the roof made of regular PVC, the Ondex sheets’ wavy transparent roof is noticeably stronger and lasts longer. As a result, the material extruded along one axis and the ONDEX sheets must be taken into separate consideration when assessing the qualities of a transparent PVC roof.

Despite having many advantages, profiled polycarbonate is generally superior to regular PVC.

  1. Resistance to most aggressive chemical compounds: solutions of acids, alkalis and salts, alcohols, hydrocarbons.
  2. Excellent stability to ultraviolet: protective UV layer on PVC lines is usually applied by the coexstrusia, so it is very.
  3. Misses up to 90% sunlight.
  4. Ease: On average, the material weighs 1.5-1.7 kg/m 2 .
  5. Installation is the same simple, like profiled polycarbonate.
  6. Self -cleaning surface: plastic roof transparent from PVC, unlike polycarbonate, is not prone to electrification. Therefore, with a slope of more than 10 ° it is washed by every rain, and it always remains clean.
  7. Flexibility: The radius of rounding at the PVC sheet is less than that of polycarbonate with the same wave height, so this material is made up with a really flexible transparent roof.
  8. Fire -safety, At the same time, PVC lists practically do not form drops during burning, so the structures located below cannot light up from them.
  9. Price Profiled PVC starts from 430 rubles per 1 m 2 .
  1. High elasticity, so the material withstands large shock loads. By the bearing capacity, such PVC is very inferior to profiled polycarbonate, but the shock load holds better – a hail of almost any size is not a problem for it.
  2. Long service life. The rate of aging PVC of dioecious orientation is quite low, there are examples of objects in France, which were blocked by this material 40-45 years ago, and the transparent wavy roof still retains tightness and passes the light well.

PVC is not as strong as profiled polycarbonate for a transparent roof, but it is more stable in the sun, doesn’t gather dust from electrification, and is even safer in the event of a fire. He also has a slightly longer service life, but this is limited to PVC that is oriented in two directions.

Apart from its limited load capacity, corrugated PVC falls short of profiled polycarbonate in multiple other aspects as well:

  1. Narrow range of permissible temperatures. Typically, the characteristics of the PVC List indicate that it can be used at a temperature of -40 ° C to +80 ° C. In practice, already at zero degrees, PVC becomes more fragile, and when temperatures drop to -15 ° C and below it can be broken by a not very strong blow.
  2. Poor heat and sound insulation.
  3. Reduction of light transmission with time.

In short, the plastic roof is transparent, making it a good choice for southern Russia’s terraces and verandas. Furthermore, snow will not accumulate on separate arbors with steep rock roofs made of profiled PVC, and there is no chance of icicles or a layer of snow from the main building falling on them.

No. 4: Cellular polycarbonate

Despite being directly related to monolithic and profiled polycarbonate, cellular polycarbonate differs from them in that it has a structure. These are at least two extremely thin polycarbonate sheets that are joined together by equally spaced polycarbonate dividers. Consequently, distinct cells are produced, which is how the material got its name.

One of the greatest materials for greenhouses, if not the best, is cellular polycarbonate. He was created in Israel in the 1970s specifically for them. With the exception of greenhouses, this is also one of the least successful materials for a transparent roof on any kind of building. which doesn’t stop it from being used extensively in private construction.

Take a look at your neighbors’ transparent terrace, gazebo, or veranda roofs. Cellular polycarbonate is most likely going to obstruct the roof. Also, this is typically pretty standard for canopies in private home courtyards. This is due to numerous factors:

  1. Low price. Cellular polycarbonate is one of the cheapest roofing and wall materials. Its price starts from 150-210 rubles per m 2 .
  2. High shock strength. Cellular polycarbonate is not easy to break: even a sheet of 4 mm thick absorbs a blow from 21 N · m, and thicker sheets absorb a much large shock load.
  3. Noise suppression. A sheet of cellular polycarbonate absorbs up to 23 dB.
  4. Flexibility. Thin sheets can be bent with a radius less than a meter.
  5. Simplicity of installation. Elementary in processing and installation.
  6. Low thermal conductivity. Heat transfer resistance reaches 0.79 m 2 ° C/WT.
  7. Ease. A sheet of 4 mm thick weighs less than a kilogram.

Furthermore, this material, like all polycarbonates, can be used at temperatures between -50 °C and +120 °C. It is also resistant to salt, fat, and acid solutions.

However, one thing outweighs all these benefits: low translucency. To be honest, even the sheets for which an 88% photograph is declared are muddy and blurry. This is because of the cells’ multilayer structure and light reflection. Thus, cellular polycarbonate performs better than nearly all transparent materials when aesthetics are a consideration and performs well when insolation is only necessary, as in the case of plants.

Apart from this disadvantage, cellular polycarbonate also has a few others:

  1. Burning drops.
  2. Not resistant to solutions of alkalis and hydrocarbons.
  3. Prone to pollution of the cells: if the ends of the sheets are badly stacked, then water and dust will get inside.
  4. Accumulates static electricity, so cellular polycarbonate literally attracts dust.
  5. The complexity of the installation: To compensate for the temperature expansion, the sheets are mounted on special mounts that may occur.
  6. Service life is 10-15 years.

Due to its low cost, cellular polycarbonate is a material that many private home owners select. However, considering the material’s service life, these savings are conditional. One of the least successful materials for a transparent roof is cellular polycarbonate because of its fragility and unsightly appearance.

No. 5: fiberglass

Fiberglass is a very low-cost, relatively new roofing material. This is a fiberglass-reinforced polymer sheet that has waves to give it strength and stiffness. A fiberglass roof made of transparency is:

  • strong;
  • resistant to most aggressive chemical compounds;
  • Persistence to temperature differences: from -60 ° C to +140-150 ° C;
  • transparent by 70-86%;
  • light.

The fiberglass transparent roof is unique despite its benefits. And not in that exact same way. There are no clear benefits to using fiberglass as it has a lower maximum transparency than other materials and a strength comparable to profiled polycarbonate. There are also sufficient drawbacks. Fiberglass wavy roof that is transparent:

  • fragile and poorly tolerates the shock load;
  • short-lived: gradually destroyed under the influence of UV rays, wind, rain due to a heterogeneous structure, due to which microcracks and cavities appear even on the new material;
  • practically does not suppress noise and does not interfere with heat loss.

The primary reason for the lack of popularity of the transparent wave-like fiberglass roof is the material’s extreme sensitivity to technological compliance and raw material quality. Put simply, one manufacturer’s fiberglass can withstand damage for 20–25 years, while another’s fiberglass may crumble a few years after installation. Furthermore, it is nearly impossible to tell the difference between the sheets by eye. As a result, fiberglass is ranked last in our ranking and is not advised for use with transparent roof devices.

Any space’s visual appeal and usability can be greatly improved by selecting a transparent roof. Transparent roofs are a popular choice for many businesses and homeowners because they can provide natural light indoors while still providing protection from the weather.

Two important considerations when choosing materials for a transparent roof are transparency and durability. An easy-to-install, lightweight, and shatter-resistant alternative with superior UV protection is provided by polycarbonate sheets. Because of its adaptability, it can be used in a range of climates and architectural styles.

Another well-liked option is glass, which is renowned for its classic elegance and clarity. Maximum light transmission is possible, and it has a sleek, contemporary appearance. To ensure longevity and safety, however, careful installation and maintenance are necessary.

Fiberglass panels are prized for being both reasonably priced and robust. They are perfect for outdoor spaces that need both light and insulation because they are corrosion-resistant and able to withstand severe weather.

Acrylic panels offer high transparency and impact resistance while combining the advantages of polycarbonate and glass. They offer durability and UV protection, and because they are lightweight and simple to work with, they are appropriate for do-it-yourself projects.

Lastly, because of their lightweight design and capacity to produce dynamic, curved shapes, ETFE foil roofs are becoming more and more popular. They can be customized to achieve different levels of transparency and insulation, and they are incredibly durable and self-cleaning.

The material that is best for your transparent roof will depend on your personal preferences, financial constraints, and needs. Whether light transmission, longevity, or architectural style are your top priorities, there is a transparent roofing material that can satisfy your needs and improve your area.

The allure of transparent roofs in today’s architectural styles extends beyond aesthetics to include useful features like energy efficiency and natural light. This article investigates the reasons behind the growing popularity of transparent roofs and goes over their benefits and important factors. We examine the top 5 materials that work well for transparent roofing, emphasizing their resilience, upkeep requirements, and climate suitability. Knowing these materials can help you make an informed decision for a bright, sustainable future, whether you’re building new or remodeling.

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Alexandra Fedorova

Journalist, author of articles on construction and repair. I will help you understand the complex issues related to the choice and installation of the roof.

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