The main advantage of a glazed balcony is the opportunity to use this additional part of your US home throughout the year, even when the weather isn’t great. A high-quality glazing system will not only shield the balcony space against atmospheric phenomena and dust, but also improve the heat and sound insulation of your apartment. This article will provide an insight into some of the popular balcony glazing types and ideas. However, it’s strongly recommended that all the necessary work be done by professionals, since any violation of the technical standards may jeopardize the safety of the balcony occupants.
Types of balcony glazing: cold & warm.
A cold glazing system is the perfect choice when the task is to shield the balcony space against wind and precipitations. This option envisages installing a frame with a single glass and without special insulation. The glazed space will only be protected from dust, rain and snow. The difference between the external and internal temperatures will not exceed 5°C, which means you won’t be really comfortable on the balcony when it’s cold or hot outside. Cold glazing systems usually include cheap aluminum profiles or wooden frames.
A warm (insulated) glazing system envisages heat insulation of the balcony space, which is achieved through installing double glass frames and additional winterization of the interior. With the help of this method, the air temperature on the balcony will be equal to that in the apartment even during the cold season. Balconies with insulated glazing are often used as an extension of a room: the home-owner is free to install a floor heating system or arrange other heating devices.
The best materials for an insulated glazing system are PVC profile frames with an energy-efficient double or triple glass. The contemporary market offers a variety of options involving such a profile, allowing you to find an optimum quality solution within your budget.
Important note: Warm glazing systems are not suitable for balconies that cannot support more than 500 kg per square meter. If you violate this rule, the consequences may be dangerous; the entire structure may collapse!
Structural variations of glazing systems.
- Sliding structures. The first and foremost pro of such a solution is the opportunity to avoid consumption of valuable space when the window is open. An aluminum profile and a single glass are what the most popular sliding glazing systems for balconies consist of. They are able to shield you from nasty weather, dust and industrial mist. Other advantages of this option are: ease of maintenance, very reasonable price and ease of mounting and installation. However, such a structure can ensure your comfort only during the warm season, as the aluminum profile does not work as a good heat insulation. Another disappointing possibility involves the leaves freezing to each other in cold weather, due to which you won’t be able to open the window.- If based on a PVC profile, the sliding glazing system will feature a higher price and a number of advantages, such as reasonably good sealing and heat insulation. The PVC profile won’t deform because of temperature fluctuations. Such a structure is an intermediate solution between cold and warm glazing systems.
- Hinged casement structures. Recently, wooden casement windows have made way for structures based on the PVC profile. This type of insulated glass units possess certain merits (weather tightness, heat and noise insulation), which is why they are employed in the warm balcony glazing systems. The drawbacks of the structure are its relatively high cost, and heavy weight, which makes it unsuitable for non-reinforced balconies.
- Frame-less balcony glazing systems represent a relatively new technology that has already gained popularity across the USA. According to the feedback from expert designers and home-owner, such a system offers a whole range of advantages:
- provides a broad panorama overview, which is unattainable with the help of any other glazing system;
- is absolutely safe because of the use of durable tempered glass with polished edges;
- does not occupy valuable space in the interior of the balcony;
- improves the decorative properties of the balcony in the context of the building’s facade;
- significantly reduces the level of street noise;
- features no complex hardware that require care or maintenance;
- is a simple and functional solution.
External balcony glazing.
An external glazing system is a non-standard idea used by USA and UK designers in cases where the balcony is tiny and the traditional glazing method will eat up a lot of useful space. This structure has a number of advantages. In particular, external glazing:
- visually increases the size of the balcony;
- saves the space, or sometimes even enhances the balcony’s spaciousness with the help of a window-sill;
- allows to expand the glazing area;
- allows to reinforce the old and non-durable balcony railings;
- is a reliable and wear-resistant structure.
Important note: The glazing line can be moved outwards either around the perimeter of the balcony, or only in the front part. Experts believe that the optimal size of the created overhang should not exceed 10 in. This will result in a balcony structure with a good balance of stability and decorative properties.