Home Blog Self-Cleaning Conservatory Roof Glass, Reality or Fiction?

Self-Cleaning Conservatory Roof Glass, Reality or Fiction?


Self-cleaning glass was once described as “an impossible dream”, but thanks to an intensive research and development programme many years ago by the World’s leading glass manufacturer, Pilkington, self-cleaning glass is not fiction, but a reality, although not a miracle cure, but it can even over time (with a little precipitation to assist) make bird droppings disappear!

Impressive Glass Roof View

Pilkington Activ, was the World’s first self-cleaning glass and has a unique dual action that harnesses the forces of nature to keep the glass free from organic dirt, providing a surface that requires less cleaning, whilst also at the same time delivering clearer, better-looking roof windows.

The secret of Pilkington’s Activ Self Cleaning Glass is a special coating that reacts with ultra-violet (UV) rays from natural daylight (which works even on overcast days and during the night) to break down and disintegrate organic dirt.

Organic dirt generally comes from livings plants and creatures (i.e. tree sap or fingerprints or bird droppings, whilst inorganic dirt comes from non-living sources (i.e. cement or plaster dust etc.). The special coating needs around a week’s exposure to daylight to activate fully. Self-cleaning glass really is no fable, as its special coating breaks down organic dirt, whilst reducing the adherence of inorganic dirt.

When rain water runs down self-cleaning glass it washes away the loosened dirt away (both organic and inorganic), as the special photo catalytic process used on the coating causes water droplets to spread out to form a “sheet”, enabling dirt particles on the surface to be easily picked up by water and washed off the glass. Inorganic dirt will only be removed by water. Compared with conventional glass, thanks to its hydrophilic form water on self-cleaning glass dries very quickly, reducing unsightly streaks or marks.

The special coating on self-cleaning glass can break down even heavy deposits of organic dirt, but does need UV light reaching the glass to enable the breaking down process to work. So during long dry dusty spells, or if windows get heavily soiled, it is advisable to clean the glass using a hosepipe to replicate rainfall or a soft cloth and warm soapy water to enable the process to start all over again. Please note that a period of reactivation may be required, which again is typically about a week.

The beauty of most self cleaning glass’s special coatings is that they last the lifetime of the glazing itself, as it will not be worn away or rubbed off under normal conditions.  The coating is integral to the glass, it will not flake or discolour, and can only be affected if the surface itself is damaged, for example, by abrasive cleaners or steel wool. The coating is environmentally friendly, containing harmless chemical substances already found in the home (i.e. in bath oils and toothpaste). In fact as only small amounts of cleaning agents are ever needed, self-cleaning glass is kinder to the environment that normal glass, which needs regular cleaning.

Self-cleaning glass can be installed on almost any exterior application, such as windows, conservatories and glass roofs. It can be installed vertically or at an angle of at least ten degrees, although most efficient at an angle of thirty degrees or more. Self-cleaning glass is ideal for inaccessible windows where organic dirt normally collects like skylights. Specialist double glazing experts and self-cleaning glass installers Hazlemere Conservatories, advise that self-cleaning glass will prove ineffective if installed under an overhang or in a position where daylight and/or rain cannot reach it, as it has been designed for exterior use only. It should also be noted that slightly darker tints perform slightly better than clear glass in terms of heat reflection.

Self-cleaning glass is an excellent long term investment, as over a period it will save time and money, plus from the cleaning standpoint it is far safer than ordinary glass windows, particularly for conservatories.

Self-cleaning glass can be combined with other glass products in insulating glass units to provide benefits such as thermal insulation, noise reduction, solar control and fire protection. Self-cleaning glass is available in clear or blue tinted toughened glass for increased safety and security. It is therefore safe to say that self-cleaning glass is no longer fiction, but a reality.


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