Polycarbonate vs. Glass Enclosure: The Ultimate Comparison

Are you planning to build an enclosure be it for your pool or building?

Do you have difficulties in deciding on the best type of glazing material to use?

Well, that shouldn’t worry you any more.

The good news is, by the end of this guide you will not only be able to easily settle on the best type of material that well suites your interests.

But also acquire an in-depth knowledge surrounding the two main types of materials used for glazing.

One thing for sure is that enclosures serve a great purpose for pools as well as buildings.

What is an Enclosure?

An enclosure refers to a structure that is built for the purpose of creating a barrier around a particular area.

We have several types of materials that are needed to build up an enclosure such as polycarbonate sheets, aluminum, glass, wood among others.

High profile swimming pool enclosure

High profile swimming pool enclosure

However, as I mentioned earlier I will majorly focus on the two main types of glazing materials.

I’m talking about polycarbonate sheets and glass material.

These two materials serve similar purposes and tend to resemble each other as they all have a transparent appearance.

However, there exists several factors that differentiate them ranging from insulation properties, installation costs, the weight just to mention a few.

I will comprehensively explain to you more about these factors later in this guide.

Just stay with me to learn more.

In a nutshell, an enclosure is a structure that has played a major role in ensuring its users are comfortable by providing extra relaxation.

Nonetheless, before making any purchases, you have to make some considerations when choosing enclosure materials.

They offer a wide range of helpful functionalities that really help secure and protect its users.

Features of Pool Enclosures

Basically, some of the desired features of enclosures are not excluded from;

Excelite swimming pool enclosure

FExcelite swimming pool enclosure

1. Protection from harmful UV radiation

Both glass and polycarbonate sheet has the capability to block harmful UV radiations.

Of course, they do this at different levels, I will come to that later in this guide.

2. Enclosures offer privacy

There’s no doubt that enclosures provide privacy as they are able to surround the existing structure.

You can otherwise make use curtains or tinted glass or polycarbonate sheet to properly ensure maximum privacy.

3. Ensure enjoyment of the pool all year round

Enclosure provides a conducive environment in times of harsh weather conditions experienced all year round.

4. Preventing unwanted materials such as debris from messing your swimming pool or outdoor space

Enclosures create a barrier between the outside atmosphere and the inside one thus blocking debris from falling inside your enclosure space.

5. Enhances the beauty of your outdoor garden

The glassy transparent appearance of the enclosure portrays a classy look around your home garden making it more attractive.

This coupled with some plants and lighting ideas around your enclosure.

It would ultimately transform the entire look of your home as well as swimming pool area.

6. Add value to property

Enclosures would be an added advantage to any prospective buyer that would desire to purchase your property.

The presence of an enclosure might largely save you the hustle of searching for buyers.

Most buyers will be lured to purchasing your property due to the additional equipment in your home.

7. Reduces pool maintenance

Enclosures create a roof over your swimming pool or patio and thus prevent dirt from falling into your pool.

This, in turn, ensures tidiness of your pool and reduces your pool maintenance routine practices.

8. Reduces expenses

Reduction of swimming pool maintenance by enclosures would mean that you will spend less acquiring the required chemicals used for cleaning your pool.

This is as a result of less usage of the cleaning chemicals due to reduced pool maintenance.

9. Ensures safety around the pool

Constructing an enclosure around your pool would prevent kids from accessing the pool without your authorization

Normally, it comprises of a locking mechanism which only you could be able to grant entrance or exit.

10. Moderates water evaporation

Pool enclosures reduce water evaporation in a manner that evaporated water settles on the roof of the enclosure.

Thereafter it condenses and falls back into the swimming pool leading to less water being lost.

Swimming in pool during summer

Swimming in pool during summer

Considerations When Choosing Enclosure Materials

In order for you to settle on the right materials for your enclosure, you first have to make a few considerations that may otherwise impact the choice of your enclosure either positively or negatively.

So, which are these important factors that you should first put into consideration?

· Size of the enclosure

What is the size of the area that needs an enclosure?

Do you need a big or small enclosure?

This will be determined by the area that you desire to cover with an enclosure.

The bigger the area, the bigger the enclosure and this, in turn, would mean that you would incur more costs.

Different sizes of pool enclosure

 Different sizes of pool enclosure

You may either choose to build a swimming pool enclosure or a patio enclosure depending on your preference.

· Type of Materials

Deciding on the best material to use for your enclosure might save you extra costs as well as low-quality structures.

We have different types of materials depending on the quality, cost or interests of the buyer.

Take for instance tinted polycarbonate sheets.

Such materials are purposely designed to ensure maximum privacy.

Tinted polycarbonate swimming pool enclosure

Tinted Polycarbonate swimming pool enclosure

In addition to that, polycarbonate sheets are believed to be much cheaper as compared to glass.

This brings us to the reason why you should carefully research on the best material that would not only satisfy your interests but also fit in your cost budget.

· The cost of the materials

Before embarking on choosing any type of enclosure materials, you have to factor in how much it will cost you.

You definitely want to purchase materials that are neither too pricey nor too cheap as most people have the perception that cheap things are of low quality.

But still, not all turn out to be so.

Cost of building an enclosure

Cost of building an enclosure – Photo courtesy: Home Advisor

So, how will I purchase quality materials at a good price?

That is a question that you might be asking yourself.

The best option would be to first research on the products and compare the price range of each material.

By doing this, you will be in a better position to purchase better products at good prices as you will have knowledge of the best manufacturers producing quality materials at favorable prices.

Design of the enclosure

Enclosures come different designs, color, and quality.

You might choose to purchase materials for a fixed or retractable enclosure.

To add on that, your materials could be meant to build a high, medium or low enclosure.

This means that you will require different types of material as per your choice of enclosure.

So what’s the bottom line here?

Pool enclosure designs

Pool enclosure designs

Decide on your preferred design before as this will determine the materials you will require for your enclosure construction.

What type of area do you wish to enclose?

Are you planning to enclose a patio, deck, gazebo, sunroom, garden room or any other room I haven’t mentioned?

The type of room you wish to enclose and how you plan to make use of it will affect the choice of materials you require for your enclosure.

Clear pool enclosure

Clear pool enclosure

Take for instance an enclosure built for the purpose of covering a swimming pool.

When acquiring materials for such an enclosure, you will require items such as polycarbonate sheets which will not be that necessary when building a gazebo.

I hope you are getting the sense in that.

Climatic conditions of the area

Some materials are best designed to withstand harsh weather conditions while others are not.

Choose materials that will blend perfectly with the weather of your locality as this might save you extra costs resulting from damages in the future.

Pool enclosure covered with ice

Pool enclosure covered with ice

After considering all these factors, you are now in a position to purchase your enclosure.

However, you might be stuck on which material to use when building your enclosure.

As I mentioned earlier, we have two main types of materials that are commonly used by most enclosure owners worldwide.

I’m talking about polycarbonate sheets and glass.

From a distance, you might mistake these two materials as they both appear transparent.

However, taking a close look at them would make you realize that they actually are two different materials.

So, which is the best material for enclosure cover?

Is it a polycarbonate sheet or glass?

Let’s dive into the next section to learn more.

Polycarbonate Sheet Vs Glass Enclosure – Which is the Best Material for Enclosure Cover?

Should you choose polycarbonate of glass enclosure?

Let’s find out:

a) Insulation property of polycarbonate enclosure vs glass enclosure

Polycarbonate sheet possesses better thermal insulation properties as compared to glass.

This makes it the best materials to use it building as it has the capability of retaining heat inside the structure.

Polycarbonate specific heat and conductivity

Polycarbonate specific heat and thermal conductivity

This, in turn, decreases the cost of energy.

b) Long service lifespan of polycarbonate enclosure vs glass enclosure

For several years now, polycarbonate sheets have been considered the best durable material as they are able to last for more than 25 years.

In addition to that, they are estimated to be 200 times stronger than glass.

25 years warranty

25 years warranty

That is not enough, the modern polycarbonate enclosures are able to last for decades without discoloration, fading or yellowing of the surface.

They are resilient to harsh weather conditions such as snow, rain or sunlight.

This feature makes them stand out as the best material to use for outdoor enclosures.

c) Protection from UV of Polycarbonate Enclosure vs. Glass Enclosure

UV rays are harmful to human health as they may lead to dangerous diseases such as skin cancer among others.

This is the reason why most enclosure owners prefer to have an enclosure that offers protection from the harmful UV radiations.

Types of UV radiation

Types of UV radiation

Polycarbonate sheet is what many prefer as it is readily designed to prevent the harmful UV radiations from gaining access into the enclosure while allowing adequate sunlight to enter the enclosure.

This is quite different from glass which would need you to do some adjustments such as adding a screen or special chemical coating for it to achieve the stated function.

d) Installation Process of Polycarbonate Enclosure vs. Glass Enclosure

Installing an enclosure is quite an easy task that doesn’t necessarily need a professional.

Why am is saying so?

Most manufacturers include an installation manual in their products and by doing so, you as the buyer is able to easily install the enclosure on your own.

Installing swimming pool enclosure

Installing swimming pool enclosure

I will not lie to you; a polycarbonate enclosure is much easier to install as compared to a glass enclosure.

Why I’m I saying so?

First, you need to know that polycarbonate is a lightweight material.

Meaning, it will take you a shorter time to complete the installation process as you can easily handle and construct them, unlike a glass enclosure which is much heavier.

In addition to that, installing a glass enclosure requires you to be much cautious as it is fragile as well making the entire process take longer.

e) Flexibility in Design of Polycarbonate Enclosure vs. Glass Enclosure

Unlike glass, polycarbonate is much more versatile meaning it can be customized into different shapes and designs.

Roofing designs

Roofing designs

This draws us to the reason why building a polycarbonate enclosure would be more flexible as compared to glass which is limited to such modifications.

f) Strength and Impact Resistance of Polycarbonate Enclosure vs. Glass Enclosure

One thing you should know is that polycarbonate has a higher impact resistance as compared to glass.

A polycarbonate enclosure will be in a position to bear up 900 psi whereas a glass enclosure can only withstand 225 psi.

Polycarbonate impact strength

Polycarbonate impact strength

Did you know that polycarbonate can flex and return to its original shape?

Well, now you know.

This, in turn, places polycarbonate enclosures among the strongest type of enclosures.

g) Scratch of Polycarbonate Enclosure vs. Glass Enclosure

In as much as both polycarbonate enclosures and glass, enclosures are prone to scratches.

Scratches on surface

Scratches on surface

Polycarbonate enclosures are more susceptible to scratch as compared to the glass enclosures.

h) Cost of Installation in Polycarbonate Enclosure vs. Glass Enclosure

As I mentioned earlier, polycarbonate is a lightweight material.

This property makes it easy for you to handle and install it as compared to glass which is heavier.

Cost of installation

Cost of installation

As if that’s not enough, the fragile nature of glass hikes the cost of installation of your enclosure.

i)Chemical Resistance of Polycarbonate Enclosure vs. Glass Enclosure

When it comes to resisting chemical attacks, glass enclosures tend to have a wider resistant range as compared to polycarbonate enclosures.

Also, both glass and polycarbonate enclosures are resistant to corrosion and rusting owing to the fact that they are non-metallic.

Wall mount swimming pool enclosure

Wall mount swimming pool enclosure

j) Weight of Polycarbonate Enclosure vs. Glass Enclosure

Due to the heavier weight of glass, glass enclosures hugely outweigh polycarbonate enclosures.

We can also attribute this to the wall thickness of each of the materials.

Polycarbonate sheet

Polycarbonate sheet

Basically, glass has a thicker wall as compared to polycarbonate adding to its general weight.

k) Safety of Polycarbonate Enclosure vs. Glass Enclosure

Here is the reality that most manufacturers won’t reveal to you.

Polycarbonate enclosures are way safer as compared to glass enclosures.

Why?

First, allow me to mention that glass is easily prone to breakage.

Shattered glass

Shattered glass

What does that mean?

Using a glass to build your enclosure would expose the enclosure users to some risks or rather accidents such our cuts.

This might be rampant especially if you have kids around.

Secondly, glass can easily crack as compared to polycarbonate sheet which has more of a plastic feel.

So, which enclosure is safer here?

Polycarbonate wins.

l) Visual Clarity of Polycarbonate Enclosure vs. Glass Enclosure

The interesting thing about this two types of enclosures is that it might take you time to realize the difference between a glass enclosure and a polycarbonate enclosure.

This is due to the fact that both of them have a transparent look.

Have a look at this;

Clear swimming pool enclosure

Clear swimming pool enclosure

From the pictures above, you can tell that these two materials can easily be mistaken not unless you are well knowledgeable in them.

Final Verdict: Polycarbonate Enclosure vs. Glass Enclosure

At this point, it is clear that a polycarbonate enclosure would be an ideal choice bearing in mind all the benefits it possesses.

Not only is it versatile but also able to serve you for decades.

This is actually one of the main reason as to why several people prefer using it as no one would want a non-durable structure.

Despite the fact that polycarbonate enclosures are outstanding, glass enclosures can also be used.

The only problem as to why they are not as popular is due to the few cons than pros that they possess.

Conclusion

With this information, I believe you are now in a position to decide on the best type of material to use for your enclosure that well suits your choice as well as preferences.

A polycarbonate enclosure stands to be the best type of enclosure to install not only in your home but also commercial premises.

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