How to Get Glass Roofs Right

Edward Stobart from IDSystems unveils the key factors to bear in mind when installing glazed elements within your home’s roof structure
by IDSystems
28th July 2017

Whether you’re self-building, renovating or creating an extension, when it comes to glazed roofs, the array of systems available can make this option a perfect alternative to a solid roof setup.

Thanks to significant advances in both glass technology and thermal efficiency over the past decade, modern solutions are almost unrecognisable from previous design generations.

Whatever style you specify, the key bonus of a glazed element like this is its ability to fill the space below with light.

From small rooms with rooflights to large open-plan zones beneath pitched glass coverings, this kind of tool is often used by homeowners to create a living space that’s drenched in sunshine.

Glass roof design options

Glazed roofs offer a flexible solution that can be tailored to suit almost any style of property. They’re a great partner for contemporary new builds with fixed-frame windows, sleek sliding doors and lean-to roof structures.

When designed sensitively, they also work well with period properties. It’s worth doing your research early on to find out what will complement your home best.

Ultimately, glass roofs fall into one of two categories. Fully glazed roofs – including pitched, Victorian, Georgian, Edwardian or other styles – feature structural aluminium support within their design.

Smaller glazed elements including rooflights, lanterns and pyramids sit atop the roof and do not provide structural support.

Flat rooflight by IDSystems

Glass roof from IDSystems

If you’re keen to incorporate the former into your project, the choices in terms of design, size and configuration are almost infinite. This form of glazing is usually specified to suit a particular dwelling and its unique characteristics.

Generally, with non-structural setups the options are more limited. However, by utilising a combination of more than one product in a single roof, you can still create large, sun-soaked spaces.

Glass roofs: the essential considerations

Whatever style you choose, there’s a variety of design factors to take into account. The span achieved by the roof is often a key factor, for instance, especially if you’re looking to install bifold or sliding doors beneath.

It’s worth discussing your overall aims with an expert and deciding on your exact requirements before the plans are finalised. This will help to ensure that the setup you choose can achieve the desired look and functional objectives.

Closer look: Specifying glass

The type of glass you specify for your glazed roof can be tailored to meet your unique project requirements. The following are all vital considerations:

  • Choose the right type of unit and glass thickness to offer both thermal and noise-reduction benefits. This can often be a crucial factor in urban locations.
  • Depending on what kind of glass you specify, it can have a huge effect on the overall solar gain and thermal performance. Choose an option that balances these aspects with the amount of illumination that can penetrate the glass. The clearer the surface, the greater the amount of light that will get through.
  • Different coatings can be applied to offer protection from excessive solar gain. You can also choose a finish that reduces the damaging effect UV rays can have on fabrics and soft furnishings below.
  • Self-cleaning coatings are a popular choice, as they reduce the amount of maintenance required.
  • Using privacy glass is another option, particularly in overlooked, built-up locations. A treated surface makes it impossible to see through the glass from above, but still allows plenty of light through.

Ventilation is another vital aspect to bear in mind, and you can incorporate a variety of openable sections.

There is also a range of options when it comes to managing the airflow, from traditional manually-operated setups to electronically-controlled systems and automated arrangements.

Pyramid rooflight by IDSystems

Pyramid roof lantern from IDSystems

Depending on the size of the glazed area in your roof, it is worth checking whether it meets Building Regulations for thermal performance. This is something that your architect will be able to assist with.

Glass roof costs

Typically a glass roof will cost from around £1,000 per m2, including installation. The exact price will depend on the design, configuration and specification of the whole system.

Edward Stobart is head of projects at IDSystems. He is an expert in all aspects of glazing. He is responsible for ensuring that IDSystems stays ahead of the competition in terms of the development of advanced, innovative glazing solutions. For more information about IDSystems call 01603 408804 or visit

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