Unbreakbale "glass" door for porch?

eleenaJanuary 22, 2013

Is there such thing?

We have a long patio/porch on the back of the house. We never use it as it's either too hot or too cold/windy outside, with very few days in-between.

I want to close the patio without changing the looks. A wall of sliding glass doors would be perfect and will make the space very useable.

However, that side of the house is very windy and is facing the woods. With frequent strong winds, the patio gets hit by all sorts of debris, including small tree branches.

Is there any way to protect the glass or make the outer pane of something (relatively) unbreakable?

I know that several window companies offer storm windows (and doors?) but they are cost-prohibitive at the moment. Plus, I don't think they'd work because - unlike one window or one door - the exposed area is too large.

I have tried to Google and saw some info on using Lexan and some companies offering it.

But I don't know anything about those companies and don't even know if it is a good idea.

Thoughts?

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PRO
Windows on Washington Ltd

Tempered glass is surprisingly strong to direct impact.

Normal debris should not break it and anything that hits it hard enough to break it is probably damaging other parts of the home.

Here is a link that might be useful: Breaking a car window...or trying to.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2013 at 7:08PM
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HomeSealed

+1. Tempered glass is going to be your best bet. Lexan scratches very easily and will look terrible pretty quickly as such.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2013 at 7:35PM
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eleena

I find it really hard to believe given how many tempered glass tea pots, French presses, and tea cups I broke w/o trying to. LOL.

We have ceramic tile countertops and DH broke several tempered glass items by just accidentally banging them on the countertop, even w/o applying any force.

What gives? :-)

Oh, and if only the outer pane would be Lexan, why would it be scratched if nobody touches it?

This post was edited by eleena on Tue, Jan 22, 13 at 20:51

    Bookmark   January 22, 2013 at 8:47PM
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HomeSealed

Certainly it would not be scratched by people if they aren;t touching it, however all of that debris that you cited as the reason for needing something stronger would certainly do the trick ;) .... In a past life, I installed auto glass including glass in heavy equipment like cranes, skid loaders, etc. It was a regular occurrence for lexan or plexi-glass to be requested, only to get a call two weeks later when they could no longer see through it due to heavy scratching. Replacing laminated glass once every couple months due to breakage ended up being more cost-effective ;)

    Bookmark   January 22, 2013 at 9:22PM
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PRO
Windows on Washington Ltd

Tempered glass is more subject to fracture and breaking when you shock the edge of it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Baseball and Golf ball

    Bookmark   January 23, 2013 at 7:27AM
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brickeyee

Tempered glass is stronger, but still has a special weakness.

Any scratch that is deeper then the temper layer instantly causes the item to shatter completely into 'crumbs' of glass.

You can shatter a tempered car window using just a self sticking center punch.
The little dimple from the punch it all it takes to make the whole window fracture completely to crumbs.

Edges are a very vulnerable to scratch damage with tempered glass.
The temper layer is often very thin at the edges of the piece.

It is a huge safety feature, since the 'crumbs' are not large enough to be a hazard if they fall on someone (unless they get into and eye) since they are so small and light.

A shard of plate glass (often 1/4 inch or more thick) falling from the top of a window when the bottom portion breaks up can do serious damage.

It has razor sharp edges and significant momentum if it fell far.

It will easily cut clean to the bone in a person it might strike.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2013 at 1:10PM
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mecarp

Hi for intrusion and safety, in the UK, a mix of Laminated and Toughened glass is recommended (Used as a Double Glazed unit). As has been mentioned toughened glass can shatter if hid in the right place, into small fragments.The fragments are not sharp like normal glass so toughened glass is usually used as a safety feature (Safety). Laminated glass if hit hard tends to stay in one piece, the glass has a flexible film laminated (stuck) in between two outer layers of glass, and if broken the Glass remains stuck to the inner plastic film. It is fairly strong and keeps the integrity of the opening in tact against intrusion (Intrusion). Glass, on it's own, can be quite strong if thick enough. It's going to depend upon how deep your pockets are as to what you use, considering many buildings are "covered in glass" it's just down to the right combination of cost, use, safety and integrity.

The process for toughening glass can differ significantly which can affect the final strength. For example, fully tempered glass is about four times stronger than annealed glass.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 2:09AM
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brickeyee

In the US laminated glass is rarely seen in window units.

Its use is mostly restricted to automobile windshields to help contain occupants and make sure debris cannot penetrate the windshield.

A few newer cars are using laminated glass for side windows.
I saw a Mercedes a few weeks ago with a cracked front passenger window that was obviously laminated glass and NOT tempered glass.
It had the regular breakage pattern of plain glass but was being held intact by the plastic layer.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 9:13AM
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HomeSealed

I would not say that laminated glass is "rare" in window units. Most manufacturers offer it a package with it, primarily for sound control and/or security. That said, obviously it is not as common as regular glass.
Either way, it would not be a good choice for this scenario because it will be no more resistant to breaking then standard glass, and certainly less so than tempered.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 9:45AM
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millworkman

True but the opening would not be compromised if it were to break and her house would not be exposed to the elements. So in a way while still breakable her interior would still be offered protection!

    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 12:03PM
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HomeSealed

That is a fine point... I guess it depends on whether the OP's motivation for stronger glass is to offer more resistance against breakage, or to offer additional protection of the interior if/when it does break. Obviously, I interpreted it as the former :)

    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 1:40PM
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millworkman

And I do not disagree with you as her question kind of could have been interpreted either way as I was even going to say the same thing about the laminated glass after your and wow's first two responses but then I was uncertain of her end goal.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 2:31PM
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PRO
Windows on Washington Ltd

This is what you need....!!!

In all seriousness, tempered glass is great and laminated glass is great. Tempered laminated is probably the best but I am not sure most manufacturers have it.

You can probably get the standard tempered glass unit and have some of the 3M coatings applied overtop. They do have a near bullet proof (pistol caliber rounds) film.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 2:42PM
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eleena

Thank you!

I am sorry if I didn't state my question correctly.

While I am concerned with safety as will have small children playing there, my original question was mostly pertaining to longevity of the glass units comprising the external wall.

Tempered glass windows are expensive (I know, I just had one installed in my LR :-) and I don't want to keep replacing them, kwim?

If the chances of them breaking are high, I'd rather not do it all - as I do not have disposable income.

WoW,

Can the 3M coating be applied as DIY?

    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 10:05PM
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HomeSealed

Your original question is slightly vague as to whether you are talking about doors or windows. If these are doors or windows that are close to they ground, you are going to need tempered glass regardless by code. Storm doors, patio doors, etc come with it by default.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 11:06PM
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PRO
Windows on Washington Ltd

Not usually on the coating but it is modestly priced last I checked.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 11:19PM
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brickeyee

"I would not say that laminated glass is "rare" in window units."

Tempered is far more common than laminated.

Bullet resistant relies n many layers of laminated glass to hold together.

It can be many inches thick if you want to stop rifle caliber rounds.

Greater than 6 inches with many layers of 1/8 inch glass is used.

This post was edited by brickeyee on Fri, Jan 25, 13 at 10:32

    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 10:30AM
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eleena

HomeSealed,

The title says "doors" and I also said in the post that I wanted "a wall of sliding glass doors"??? :-)

Yes, I understand it has to be tempered but I was wondering if one pane can be made of tempered glass and the other - of some transparent plastic.

What about plexiglass used for framing pictures?

I was told it is a different grade than regular plexiglass and won't scratch easily.

WoW,

Could you please clarify your statement?
Did you mean by "Not usually on the coating but it is modestly priced last I checked" that it cannot be DIY'd but it is not expensive to get done?

I am not trying to save $$, just don't know what kind of business applies the coating. Is it done by the window/door company?

Tx!

    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 2:02PM
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HomeSealed

Touche! Lol...

    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 4:48PM
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PRO
Windows on Washington Ltd

The specialized films (i.e. 3M storm or bullet protections) are normally applied by certified installers.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2013 at 8:24AM
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toddinmn

The 3M coatings do have a learning curve the first time you use them. The coatings are not cheap , last I checked price it was about the same as adding tempereed glass. Polycarbonate and acrylic are the two types of clear plastic used in place of glass.Polycarbonate is the type you would wznt since it almost unbreakable, though it does scratch easier and cost a bit more. I would just use tempered glass that comes with the doors and use the money saved to repair the glass if it does break. The thermal properties of the door would be lost using Polycarbonate and prone to scratches.I think the tempered glass would hold up your needs, but if you are getting Darth Vader like flying debris you would need polycarbonate or would have to look into something that would go in front of window to protect it from netting to shutters.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2013 at 9:28AM
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eleena

Thank you everyone!

What is netting?

    Bookmark   January 28, 2013 at 11:23AM
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PRO
Windows on Washington Ltd

Todd is referring to something like a set of hurricane shutters or protective netting.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2013 at 7:36PM
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eleena

Oh, I think that is exactly what I need.

Thank you every one for very helpful discussion!

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 9:57AM
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PRO
Windows on Washington Ltd

Good luck.

Let us know how it works out and please tell your friends about GardenWeb.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 10:40AM
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eleena

I asked my window guy for a quote on tempered glass doors first. But even if comes back with an amazing price, I have to postpone, I am afraid. First things first as our kitchen has completely fallen apart and needs to be remodeled ASAP.

But I keep dreaming of that sun-room ...

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 3:53PM
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