If you listen to the commentary from the industry, you’d think it was only solid roofs that were of any importance any more when it comes to orangeries and glazed extensions. Whilst they’re a great product and solve a fundemental problem with conservatories that suffer from the usual climate control problems, that doesn’t mean they are the right solution for every job.

There is still very much a use for the glass roof in this part of the market.

Light and space

We have an outdoor showroom at our place, where we have a mix of glass and solid roofs on our glazed extensions. When someone comes to talk to us about either building a new one or renovating an existing conservatory, we ask them what their priorities are. More often than not its to gain more living space and to stop their existing one overheating and becoming too cold in the winter. Their first port of call is naturally the solid roof. So we go on to explain how our system is built, installation of it, the u-values, the look etc. We use the Prefix WARMroof, its a hell of a roof and most customers are impressed by it.

Then we talk to them about light. Its surprising how little consideration this is given. More often than not, the new glazed extension or existing conservatory is off the back of a dining room or kitchen. And more often than not, if they have an existing conservatory it will be a polycarbonate roof. So at present they will be getting a lot of vetical light coming through the roof. Never a bad thing. However, once we point out that once a solid roof is installed, much of that light is going to be lost, so not only making the conservatory (now extension) darker, but also the room its connected to darker as well. You can put rooflights in, or even glaze part of the roof entirely, but its still not going to allow in the same amount of light as the original roof.

Its at that point you can start to see the cogs turn and after a bit of consultation plenty of home owners are not prepared to lose all that valuable light. So this is where the glass roof continues to play a major role in our industry. Its the single option that can allow a home owner to maximise the amount of light they let into their glazed extension and the adjoining room. Plus you get a view to look out of, assuming there is a nice view to capitalise on! It also gives the illusion of more space, without makingt he entire thing bigger.

Glass roofs can be self-cleaning, if you truly believe that the product does what it says. Its certainly quieter than a polycarbonate roof. Its thermal performance is better than that of polycarbonate. Its quick to install. Less in cost than many solid roof products, which is useful if the home owner has a tight budget. It can be enhanced by using products like a Cornice aluminium gutter or LivinRoom internal pelmet. Tints help with glare and heat. A glass roof is no shoddy second to a solid roof. There is still very much a use for the product.

As with most things, there is a balance to strike, dependent on the requirements from the home owner.

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Choice based on needs

If a home owner wants the feel of a genuine extension, the best thermal and u-value performance, a solid roof wins all day long. Tiles on top, plastered internally, roof lights if needed, downlights in the roof, proper soffits and fascias. Its a winner.

But if a home owner does not want to lose out on light, or even try and increase the amount of light they can get, improve the view above and save some money in the process, then the glass roof wins hands down. Obviously, its never going to be as good as the solid roof in terms of thermal performance and climate control. Its still going to get hot in the summer if its south facing. It can though be enhanced with the products I have just mentioned, and if you look at the featured image above you can still turn out some stunning installations.

Its about balancing the need of the home owner with the outcome the product will produce and the available budget. Both products have their advantages and disadvantages, there are some big budget differences though, and sometimes money speaks louder than anything else. So for those reasons, the glass roof continues to have a very big role in the glazed extension market in the years to come.

As for polycarbonate roofs, we haven’t sold one in years. The only place I can see it shrinking into is the insurance market where companies will only replace like-for-like. There are very few compelling reasons for a home owner to want to look at a polycarbone roof as a genuine option. Even the price gap between those and glass roofs is hardly worth noting now. For me, its a dead market and I cannot imagine many of us will miss it!

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