A Change of Scene for Bi-folds and Sliding Doors
In recent years, we've seen an explosion in the adoption of glass in architectural design - predominantly for large sliding and bifold doors. We've created stunning living spaces and amazing extensions full of light, enhancing the connections we have with our outdoor space. But how about the day-to-day living experience?
More glass of course means more light, and more light means more exposure to the sun and a greater need for solar control. Natural light is a popular design element, but unmanaged, can create an uncomfortable living environment, especially during hot summer months when stunning glass living spaces become greenhouses, or in low winter sunlight when eye-level glare becomes an issue.
The Problem of privacy
With the exception of rural homes for whom onlookers are not an issue, most of us are not completely comfortable with passers-by observing every aspect of our daily routines. And with large doors and windows, more of our daily routines are on show than ever before. No one wants to see the return of net curtains and blinds are rarely available in the widths needed to seamlessly screen large openings.
Uncertain about extra wide curtains
Clean architectural lines can be compromised by curtain fabric 'bunching' across the track and to the sides when open. Extra wide curtains can require significant space to sit when open, reducing available light. Curtains offer an on/off solution to heat, glare and privacy, but are limited in their flexibility beyond that. Sunlight can also 'bleach' or mark the lining fabric creating an uneven look from the outside.
Curtains for wide windows create a lot of folds and folds provide attractive resting and hiding places for flying insects during the summer months too, and curtains themselves offer no protection from bugs entering the home during hotter months when you'd prefer to open the doors.
Smart glass but no air
Thermochromic or smart glass offer great solar management solutions but zero ventilation. Allowing exterior air to circulate is not only better for health but helps maintain connections with the exterior landscape. In strong sunlight, thermochromic glass also loses its transparency and can potentially obliterate exterior views.
Maintain clean design lines
Screens are growing in popularity for their performance flexibility and for their aesthetic 'discretion'. Retractable, recessed screens don't impact on architectural design; they simply disappear from view when not in use.
This means homeowners can maximise every inch of available light with no distraction from clean architectural lines. Further subtlety is created by frames that match any RAL colour to blend seamlessly with existing door colour palettes.
So far so good, but what about that performance issue? Hi-tech mesh fabrics provide a variety of solutions depending on need; from insect control at around 50% openness, to privacy control at around 5% open. Unlike extra wide curtains or smart glass, hi-performance mesh fabric provides ventilation which can help manage heat build-up during summer months.
Screen fabrics reduce glare and diffuse the light but retain views to the outside so you keep the feeling of openness and the connections with exterior landscape. Solar screens block up to 97% of harmful UV rays, so they not only protect your skin, but your furniture, rugs and other furnishings too.
The solar management feature of performance mesh contributes to energy saving by reducing the requirement for HVAC cooling systems in the summer. Building standards dictate that architects and engineers calculate the heating, cooling and lighting performance of a building during the design phase. When included in these calculations, screen fabric can contribute significantly to the building's overall performance rating.
Different colours achieve different effects too. Dark mesh allows you to see through and focus on the landscape beyond; this is because dark mesh reflects less light and glare. Light colour mesh reflects light back towards you making it harder to see what's on the other side of the screen; consequently, light mesh works well as an internal blind/screen solution.
Check back soon for more information on mesh colour and performance or get in touch to find out more.