Considerations for Glass on Coastal Projects (Glass in Marine Environments)

The specification of architectural glazing is always an important part of a modern architectural project. This proper consideration and specification process is even more important in harsh environments such as coastal projects and marine environments.

Specifying the correct glazing in marine environments is highly important. Our technical guide below will detail the areas that need to be considered when working on projects on the coast.

What is a Marine Environment?

Any property within 5 miles of a sea front is classed as being in a marine environment. Buildings in this area are under the same kind of atmospheres and harsh environments as those directly on sea fronts.

Properties classed as a marine property will be in atmospheres with much higher than average chemical contents. Elements in the air such as salts, chemicals, and deposits from the sea can all affect the external face of buildings.

The additional salts and corrosive elements in the atmosphere mean that frame finishes and glass need to be engineered to withstand this harsh ecosystem.

For projects that are directly sea facing, higher wind loads and exposed situations also mean the performance of the systems chosen need to be able to withstand the pressure.

large glass facade on coastal house
sliding doors with slim frames by sea

Aluminium Framing for Coastal Projects

Aluminium is usually the best framing material to use in marine environments over more traditional materials such as steel or timber. It is inherently more durable in nature and is easier to care for. The modern finishing’s that can be applied to aluminium prepare it for the harsher marine environments.

All framing on a coastal property will need to be finished as ‘Marine Grade’. This means that the powder coat applied to the framing must be at least 50 microns thick. All aluminium framing from IQ has a PPC of 60 microns thick as standard.

In order to create a long-lasting finish and ensure that you fully protect the base aluminium frame from corrosion in the harsh environment, it is strongly recommended that all aluminium frames to be used in a marine environment are pre-anodised first with a marine grade PPC applied on top of this.

IQ have extensive experience working with leading architects on large, impressive coastal projects. We would not install any aluminium frame in a marine environment without this two-part finishing process.

Steel Framing for Coastal Projects

It is particularly difficult to fully protect steel framing in these harsh coastal environments. With most steel systems it is inadvisable to use them in these environments due to the corrosive environments. The welded joints of the system are particularly susceptible to corrosion due to the welding process disrupting the protective outer layer of galvanised steel.

However, the MHB steel systems that IQ work with are available with a framing finish specifically designed for the marine environment.

All finishes on MHB steel frames are certified as ‘super durable quality’ and have been tested in accordance to ISO 2810 with three-year outdoor Florida exposure tests.

They have 3 grades of coating. Grade 2 coatings are suitable for coastal projects within 1-6km of the sea front. Grade 3 coatings are applied to a stainless-steel base frame and are suitable for projects that are directly sea facing.

As the MHB systems are fully fabricated then coated at the specialist MHB plant the integrity of these finishes are absolutely and suitable for harsh marine situations.

steel framed glass extension in marine environment
frameless windows

Glass Specifications for Coastal Projects

The glass on a coastal project will also need special attention as these large glass faces will be under the same environment strains as the framing systems.

A Low Maintenance coating is always recommended on glass to coastal environments.

This coating evens the microscopically rough surface of the glass elements and makes it much more difficult for any deposits from the area to settle on the glass, thus making the glass cleaner for longer and making the glass much easier to clean when needed.

As sea facing projects are south facing in most instances, a solar control coating is also recommended. This coating is applied on the inside of the insulated glass unit and reflects solar radiation away, reducing overheating from solar gain.

Additional elements of solar control should also be considered if the glass elevation is large and directly south facing. External or internal blinds are suitable. You could also consider an external louvre roof which provides a huge amount of solar shading to glass AND creates a useable outdoor living space at the same time.

Performance Requirements for Coastal Glazing

As well as your normal performance requirements for Uw values and security, a coastal environment requires a higher level of weather resistance and performance.

Glass installations on a coastal facing elevation will be under extreme weather conditions almost constantly. This includes driving rain as well as strong winds.

If a lower specification glazing system is used the building users will likely experience whistling or bowing in the frames under high winds.

Your glazier should always ask you what the wind load of your project is. If they do not, they do not understand the rough nature of coastal facing projects.

In order to help you specify the correct glazing system for your coastal project we must know what the wind load is. Using in house software we can then conduct calculations to determine the wind pressures on each glass elevation and specify the right solution that will perform.

beach house with architectural glass
slim sliding sash

Minimal Framed Systems for Coastal Projects

You don’t have to compromise minimalism for high performance if the right system is used.

Completely frameless structural glass installations can be engineered to withstand a huge amount of wind load so is perfectly able to cope with all weather conditions including those on directly coastal areas.

For opening solutions, IQ have partnered with panoramah! which offer the highest specification sliding solutions on the market with a sightline of only 20mm.

Their base sliding system - ah!38 – is perfectly suitable to use on the majority of coastal projects with proven levels of high performance under driving rain and high wind loads. Improved performance can be achieved through the ah!60 system and there is even a hurricane tested solution for projects with extreme weather conditions.

These high specification glazing solutions are designed and engineered to offer exceptional levels of performance paired with beautifully simple and minimal design.

Cleaning and Maintenance of Glass in Marine Environments

When working with clients on a coastal project it is important that they understand that glazing in a marine environment will need a good maintenance and cleaning schedule.

The salts and other particles in the atmosphere by the coast will deposit themselves on the outer face of the building, this includes the frame and the glass. These surfaces will need cleaning to remove these deposits.

The use of a low maintenance coating on the glass will reduce cleaning required on this surface but the architectural glazing will still need ongoing cleaning at an increased schedule to projects further inland.

flush threshold sliding doors

What Next?

If you have any questions about the glazing package for your coastal project speak to the team at IQ.

We are able to listen to your specification requirements and provide bespoke solutions to match your requirements. Be that size, design or performance; all IQ systems can be expertly engineered to fit your design.

Visit the contact us page for all the ways you can get in touch.

Bifolding Doors
Rebecca Clayton
Technical Sales
Rebecca is Head of Marketing at the IQ Group and has worked in glazing specification for many years. She has a broad range of technical knowledge about all our glazing products and offers technical advice and guidance to architects for specification. Her easy to digest technical advice is often quoted in magazines and publications. You might also recognise her as one of the IQ Glass CPD presenters.
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