There are few people who welcome a dark building, whether at home or in the workplace. Windows are essential in any building to capitalise on the abundance of available natural light. Traditionally, windows are made of glass, a transparent and attractive material, which has also proven its durability.
Glass is also fragile and cannot withstand heavy impacts. It is also expensive to replace. In areas of the home or workplace, where there is a possibility of windows being subject to trauma, or impact, (including garages, children's playrooms, or workrooms) it may be advisable to use a replacement for traditional windows.
One of the most popular replacements for plain glass in windows is safety glass, which does not pose as great a threat as plain glass if it is broken. It is heavier than plain glass, though, and more expensive. Another alternative is to use acrylic sheeting. This is lighter than glass and is far more durable. Because it can withstand impact, it is also much safer than glass – especially in those areas in the home or workplace that could contain hazardous activities.
Acrylic sheets are generally cheaper, lighter and more durable than glass. They are readily available in hardware stores, shops supplying plastic products and home development centres, making them an easy and attractive replacement for glass windows for the average homeowner.
Another replacement for glass in windows is polycarbonate, which is even more impact resistant than acrylic. It is also more flexible and can be bent into different, often complex, shapes, allowing it to be used in more creative ways.
Cleaning windows can sometimes be demanding. Where glass windows need to be cleaned with some form of alcohol and to be polished to be truly clear, the plastic window replacements can be effectively cleaned with a microfibre, or cotton, cloth. Conventional soap and water may be used where necessary.
There are the places in the workplace or home where capitilising on natural light is desirable, but there is a need for privacy, such as the bathroom. Conventionally, windows are used with frosted, or opaque, glass. An attractive and effective replacement for these windows is to use glass blocks to construct a wall, or a section within a wall. These blocks allow light in while retaining privacy. They are also good insulators.
Glass is the most common material used for windows in buildings. Window replacements can be used that are more cost-effective, durable and safer.