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Polycarbonate vs Glass - Which is Better? 

Written by MS
31/05/2021 10:00:07

You may not have realised it, but you encounter polycarbonate glazing and panels on an almost daily basis. This incredibly durable and versatile plastic is used as a substitute for glass in a wide range of situations and places - but the two materials look practically identical. 
 
In this latest blog from The Plastic People, we are going to take an in-depth look at polycarbonate and glass, discuss their similarities and differences; and, ultimately, decide which material is best! (Hint: The answer is obviously polycarbonate!)
 
On our site, you can find dozens of exclusive guides on home design and improvements, plastic materials and more! Click here to check out the full range. If you are still in need of more advice on anything plastic-related, please contact our team at service@theplasticpeople.co.uk. 
 
What is Polycarbonate? 
 
Technically, there is more than one type of polycarbonate, as the name refers to a group of thermoplastics (available at several different grades), which contain carbonate groups (hence the name). Though polycarbonate is particularly tough plastic, it has a wide range of uses in the engineering world as it can be easily moulded and shaped. 
 
Some applications of Polycarbonate include:
  • Construction materials (roofing and glazing, for example)
  • Data storage (CDs & DVDs)
  • Security components (bulletproof ‘glass’)
  • Windscreens for cars and aircraft 
 
Polycarbonate vs Glass
 
Polycarbonate has several perks that allow the material to outperform glass in several scenarios. For starters, polycarbonate is crystal clear - just like glass - and so can be used as a glass replacement whenever a see-through material is desired.
 
As we have already discussed, it has an incredibly resilient material and is typically 250 times stronger than glass. Polycarbonate is also shatter- and scratch-proof, making it perfect for roofing and window glazing. Moreover, it is actually lighter than glass too!
 
Another main benefit of polycarbonate is its workability. The material can be easily formed and reformed into complex and intricate designs. This is incredibly beneficial as it allows us to create bespoke polycarbonate glazing for people’s homes and greenhouses. If you need to replace any glazing or shed windows, make sure to check out our services. You can do so by clicking here
 
Polycarbonate’s workability and shatter resistance also allow us to machine the plastic, trimming it to any desired shape or size. Additionally, we can easily drill holes, and other contact points, into polycarbonate panels - allowing it to be used in even more scenarios! 
 
Using Polycarbonate in your Home
 
There are several instances in which polycarbonate can be considered a more efficient material than glass in your home. Here are just a few:
 
  • Polycarbonate Greenhouse Glazing: This plastic is ideal for creating greenhouses. Not only is it incredibly strong and shatterproof (saving you money on future replacement panels), but it also offers unparalleled heat resistance. We cut polycarbonate glazing panels to any size or shape. Click here to get yours. 
 
  • Polycarbonate Roofing: Roofing is one of the most common uses for polycarbonate - also known as twinwall and multiwall in this scenario. Polycarbonate roofing is available in several colours and typically used for summer houses, conservatories and patio covers. This material is also treated with UV resistant chemicals, protecting you and your family from the sun’s rays. Check out our polycarbonate roofing panels here. 
 
 
  • Vehicle Windows: In this category, we are including everything from car and aircraft windscreens to boat windows. As polycarbonate is so easy to shape and form, it can be made to fit almost any specification. Therefore, we have previously manufactured polycarbonate windows for racing cars, fire engines, recovery vehicles and more. 
 
Installing Polycarbonate in your Home 
 
We consider polycarbonate to be a DIY-ready material. This means that - whatever your skill level - you can work with polycarbonate and install it in your home! Thankfully, we do most of the hard work for you and cut all our plastic panels to size/shape, so all you have to do is slot them into place. 
 
If you need to join two or more polycarbonate panels (for example, when making a patio cover), you have a couple of options. Firstly, you can easily glue multiple pieces together using an epoxide resin (regular solvents may not hold together). 
 
Alternatively, for a stronger bond, we recommend fusing panels with methylene chloride. (Note: This is a toxic chemical, so only use in a well-ventilated area). Always leave your panels to bond for at least 48 hours before moving/installing. 
 
As always, if you need further help with any of the things mentioned in this blog (or anything else plastic-related), do not hesitate to contact our customer services and advice team. They can be emailed at service@theplasticpeople.co.uk. 
 
We hope you are now all on board the polycarbonate train and will be ditching glass from now on in your home DIY and improvement projects. For more quick tips on plastics and home decor, make sure you are following our social media accounts. We are @barkstonplastic on Instagram and Twitter. You can reach our Facebook by clicking here. 
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