Clear about self-cleaning glass

When it comes to self-cleaning glass conservatories, it is important for both your business and the industry that customers understand exactly what you are offering, as TuffX’s managing director Graham Price explains.

Along with being energy efficient, durable, and providing ambient temperatures, what most homeowners want from their conservatory glass is ease of maintenance.

Self-cleaning glass is often an obvious choice for this, but what constitutes true ‘self-cleaning’ can be far from clear.

The British Standard of self-cleaning glass is BS EN 1096, which was introduced in 2016 to make the mystery of self-cleaning glass more, well, transparent. It certifies that the glass has an official self-cleaning performance, using hydrophilic and photocatalytic properties to enhance glass cleanliness.

When talking to customers, it’s best to highlight when the self-cleaning glass you are using meets British Standards, and why. We often see quotes for substantially cheaper, non-standard self-cleaning glass but these false economy alternatives typically result in unhappy customers, call-backs and dented reputations.

While initially seeming attractive to unwitting, cost-conscious homeowners, these sub-standard products, which are frequently included under the umbrella term of ‘self cleaning’, are in fact a type of cheaper glass that is often merely daubed in a bought-in liquid that can cause noticeable problems over time.

True self-cleaning glass, as set out by standard BS EN 1096, works in a two-stage process. The first stage of the cleaning process is ‘photocatalytic’, whereby the glass’s coating reacts with daylight to break down organic dirt. The second stage is ‘hydrophilic’. Here, instead of forming droplets, rainwater hits the glass and spreads evenly, running off in a sheet and taking the loosened dirt with it. It also dries quickly without leaving streaks.

In contrast, cheaper non-British Standard ‘self-cleaning’ glass is usually just wiped on the surface with a liquid that actually gives an opposite ‘hydrophobic’ effect. This means the surface repels the water and causes droplets. Not only is this less effective and less attractive, it will potentially need reapplying every couple of years.

True self-cleaning glass is a premium product, which should be marketed as such. Your customer may have been quoted a lower price elsewhere for inferior ‘self-cleaning’ glass, but when the tangible benefits of investing in properly certified products are clearly explained, they can actually help close a sale.

Developed with world-leading glass manufacturers, all of Tuffx’s Ambience range of self-cleaning conservatory glass has been certified to BS EN 1096-5, a fact that we are proud to highlight. Our view is that more businesses should be offering and promoting this kind of product, helping to raise awareness of the less scrupulous cheaper substitutes out there that not only undercut businesses selling certified products, but also contribute to eroding our industry’s reputation.

If we were all selling the benefits of British Standard self-cleaning glass, it would better safeguard our industry standards and better fulfil the expectations of our customers who, rightly, deserve a quality product in their home. There should be no room for substandard ‘self-cleaning’ products masquerading as financially competitive alternatives.

With over 25 years of experience in glass manufacture, TuffX offers the high quality self-cleaning Ambience conservatory glass range, available with the most efficient solar glass on the market capable of reflecting up to 91% of solar heat, and in large pane spans of up to 4m for effective use in both conservatories and orangery roofs.