Plexiglass Windows: A Good Idea?

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Plexiglass is a type of plastic material that mimics glass and has a wide variety of uses. Many manufacturers use plexiglass instead of real glass for things like hospital equipment, signs and displays, and windows and skylights. That begs the question: Is plexiglass really a good material for windows?

Plexiglass is an ideal material for windows because it’s light, shatter resistant, and has great thermal insulation properties. It can also be cut and customized easily to match your vision. However, plexiglass is more prone to scratches, and it’s also more expensive than glass in many cases. 

Let’s take a closer look at the use of plexiglass for windows, including whether it’s a good idea, which alternatives to consider, and just how thick a plexiglass window should be. 

Is Plexiglass a Good Material for Windows?

Open window to the back yard with small shed

The answer to this question depends on the specific requirements of the window, but plexiglass is often a good choice for windows. For one, it’s lighter and more impact resistant than glass, making it less likely to break or shatter. On average, plexiglass is 17 times more shatter resistant than real glass.

Plexiglass also has better thermal insulation properties than glass, which can help reduce energy costs for residences and businesses, and it provides great visibility while retaining insulation.

Lastly, plexiglass is easier to cut and shape than glass, which allows for more customization in terms of size, shape, and design. For those looking to design windows that might be out of the norm or who have specific shape requirements, plexiglass is much better to work with.

Nonetheless, there are some disadvantages to consider too.

Plexiglass is more prone to scratches than glass, which can affect the visibility and aesthetics over time. It’s important to take care of the plexiglass and avoid the use of abrasive materials or substances to clean it.

Plexiglass also has lower resistance to UV radiation than glass, which can cause it to yellow and become brittle over time when exposed to sunlight.

Perhaps most importantly, plexiglass can also be more expensive than glass, making it a less ideal options for those on a budget.

What Type of Glass Is Typically Used in Windows?

The type of glass typically used in windows is called float glass. Float glass is a type of clear glass that is made by floating molten glass on a bed of molten metal, usually tin, to create a smooth and uniform surface. 

It’s chosen for its clarity, strength, and safety in comparison to other types of glass. It can also be laminated to increase its durability.

Are Plexiglass Windows Insulating?

Yes, plexiglass windows tend to be more insulating than those using regular glass. This keeps the residence or business at a comfortable temperature, but it also reduces energy bills because there’s less of a need to turn on the heating or air conditioning.

The thickness of plexiglass also affects how well it can insulate.

How Thick Should a Plexiglass Window Be?

Colorful pieces of plexiglass

The thickness of a plexiglass window depends on a few factors, like the size of the window, the distance between supports, the expected wind load, and the level of impact resistance required. As a general rule, the larger the window, the thicker the plexiglass should be.

For smaller windows, 2–3 mm may be sufficient for the thickness. For a much larger window, the plexiglass may need to go up to 9 mm. You would rarely need to go above or below this, but the range of 2–9 mm is a large one.

If you’re not sure how thick the window needs to be, it’s best to consult a professional. There are even online calculators that can be used to find the appropriate thickness depending on your needs, but a professional is usually better because they’ll be able to assess your specific situation.

Final Thoughts

Overall, plexiglass is a great material for windows when used correctly thanks to its advantages of being shatter resistant, lightweight, and having good insulation properties.

However, it’s essential to check the correct thickness for the window you’re using and to compare the advantages and disadvantages of glass. In some cases, plexiglass is more expensive and may not be suitable for those on a budget.

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