If you ask a stranger on the street what polycarbonate is, chances are you're going to be met with a puzzled look. Not many people know this, but polycarbonate is all around us. Since its discovery in 1898 by German scientist Alfred Einhorn, this material has been used in many different fields such as; electronics, automobiles and even eyewear. In this post, we're going to discuss one of the most popular uses for polycarbonate today, and if you still don't know what I'm talking about, all you need to do is look up... at the roof.
Polycarbonate roofing sheets can be found on top of greenhouses, factories and swimming pools. They are used as skylights in commercial and residential buildings, and recently they even adorned the roof of the Nizhny Novgorod stadium - one of the host stadiums of the 2018 World Cup – with a striking white, blue and azure pattern.
With that said, you don't have to build a new sports arena, a pedestrian bridge, a building or a greenhouse to benefit from polycarbonate roofing sheets. Polycarbonate is a transparent, lightweight and stronger alternative to glass, and is also an excellent alternative to other semi-transparent materials such as fiberglass. In fact, they have become very popular in smaller scale projects such as pergolas for private residences; or small-to-medium projects such as bike shelters and walkway coverings.
Why polycarbonate roofing sheets?
Due to their inherent properties, polycarbonate roofing sheets offer the following major advantages:
- Polycarbonate is a much lighter material than glass, which makes it easier to work with.
- Polycarbonate sheets are much easier to cut than glass. Unlike glass, which usually requires a special saw, any standard circular saw can be used with polycarbonate. This also means that any error in planning can easily be fixed by adjusting the size or angle of the sheet on the construction site.
- Polycarbonate is a thermoplastic, which means it is extremely flexible and versatile. This enables you to play with its shape, colors, and light transmission percentage.
- Polycarbonate is extremely strong and durable, and has high impact resistance.
- Compared to glass, polycarbonate is much better for insulation. For this reason, it is widely used for greenhouses and protects the plants inside from freezing temperatures while also allowing necessary sunlight in.
- Polycarbonate maintains its color, transparency, and shape for years, as opposed to fiberglass, which becomes brittle and loses its color over time.
- Polycarbonate can be as clear as glass and can be adjusted to transmit a specific light transmission percentage. In comparison, fiberglass is translucent but not fully transparent.
Applications of polycarbonate roofing sheets
Now that you know a little bit more about polycarbonate roofing sheets, here are a few examples of how they can help you achieve your project goals:
A pergola is a wonderful addition to any house’s garden. A pergola is an outdoor sitting area traditionally covered with a wooden canopy which provides partial protection from sun exposure and rain. Let’s assume you would like to build a pergola that offers complete protection from the elements, without having to give up on sunlight or the beautiful blue sky. At this point, you might consider using glass or polycarbonate for the roof. Keep in mind that glass is more than double the weight of polycarbonate, and if this is a residential project you might want to consider going with the lighter option. Also, with polycarbonate sheets, you get to enjoy the sun and natural light without the risks of UV rays.
Covered walkways are becoming more prevalent in cities with severe snowfall or severe heat. For example; this February the city of Moscow experienced 38 cm of snow in one day alone. Polycarbonate sheets can withstand the weight of such snowfall and can keep their rigidity from -50C to approximately 140C. Another quality that attracts city planners and designers of smaller scale projects to polycarbonate, is how cost efficient it is. Polycarbonate roofing sheets are exceptionally durable and require minimal maintenance.
Swimming pool covers
The designers of a large swimming pool cover in Queensland, Australia were looking for a specific roofing solution. They wanted a cover that would protect the swimming pool year-round – in the summer from the intense heat and sun, and in the winter from strong winds, rain and cold weather. The swimming pool is uniquely positioned by the ocean and the designers wanted a fully transparent cover that would allow the pool’s patrons to enjoy the magnificent views of the ocean and the sky. The solution was, as you might have already guessed, polycarbonate sheets. With its glass-like clarity and incredible durability this material offered the best of both worlds – the bathers were now able to enjoy natural light and unobstructed views while also being completely sheltered from the elements.
Wide range of polycarbonate solutions for your roofing needs
Palram offers "state of the art" polycarbonate solutions to a myriad of roofing needs, whether for a small DIY project or a massive architectural structure:
- SUNTUF is a corrugated polycarbonate sheet that is very easy to work with. It has multiple uses and is perfect for pergolas, skylights and greenhouses as well as DIY projects and medium to larger sized projects.
- SUNGLAZE is a standing-seam panel and glazing system designed to adapt to projects big or small. Check out how it was used for the new covered walkway at Derby Middle School in Wichita, Kansas.
- PALSUN is a flat solid polycarbonate sheet that comes in a wide array of different colors and tints that range from glass-like clarity to shaded.
- SUNPAL is an advanced, multiwall polycarbonate panel system that is an excellent solution for small, medium and large applications. It enables architects and engineers to incorporate natural light, thermal insulation, and structural strength into projects.