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Question DetailsAsked on 2/3/2018

How can I determine if a huge window/no panes. approximately 3’x8’ polycarbonate or glass...I need to replace i

Need to replace it immediately if it’s “plate glass”
Or something that will shatter if toddlers run
Into it or hit it with heavy objects...but if it’s

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1 Answer


HIGHLY unlikely it is polycarbonate or acrylic - which are clear plastics - known as Plexiglass, Lexan, Makrolon, or Lucite (specific brandnames) to some people. If polycarbonate/acrylic will undoubtedly have a bunch of scratches etched into it, and if you tap it will sound like plastic, not glass. A sharp piece of metal will also easily scratch it, whereas on glass the metal will leave a streak of metal on the glass but not noticeably scratch it.

If unable to tell, call a Glass and Mirror place to give you a quote on replacement or overlay piece.

Look for labeling on the glass, usually at a bottom corner - you may find a manufacturer label - you will most likely, if this is in a location requiring tempered glass, that it says TEMPERED on it. Or if plastic should have a brandname and the type of plastic labeled on it if original glass - though replacement glass commonly has had the label cut off.

See following article on tempered and safety glass, and I have included a couple of links on which types of window locations require tempered or safety glass and which do not, including a worksheet from the code bureau on where "safety glazing" is and is not required.

Tempered is the usual "safety glazing" for houses - breaks into smaller pieces instead of large sharp curved edges with spike ends, but pieces are not as small or "dull" as true "Safety glass", which is used somewhat in wet areas (pools and spas and such) but mostly in car windows, and has a plastic layer embedded in it which tends to keep the glass panel pretty intact except in the most severe instances.

Most people are happy with tempered glass around kids - though it will break. But plastic will fairly rapidly fog from dirt and fingerprints and cleaning - is VERY hard to keep intact, especially around kids - especially since most types of markers will permanently mark it.

My recommendation - though with climbers you have that consideration too - is putting a couch in front of it (at least stops the running impact issue), putting heavy drapes in front, maybe temporary safety lattice or railings until the kids outgrow running into window age (say about 35-40 or so).

If you do decide to put plastic in, I would not use plastic as a glass replacement - I would just put a covering panel over the inside which is fastened so you can easily remove it to clean the inside face and the glass - having substantial air gaps around it to prevent fogging and condensation on the inside of the glass pane. That way you can go back to the glass when kids are grown up, and do not have a big negative come sale time - because most buyers would object mightily to a plastic picture window.

Also - to replace that big a piece of glass with acrylic is likely to run you on the order of - oh, I would off the cuff say probably $500-800 for single-pane, more like $700-1000 for double pane.

There is a high-resistance Lexan or Makrolon Hygard which runs a LOT more, for use in commercial buildings - and used in high-impact areas like loading or hotel doors, revolving doors, and for "bullet-proof" doors and windows - but for your size window probably a couple thousand or three for a single sheet of it, installed - double that for double-pane (though you could go with regular glass on the outside if not adjacent to walkway).

Answered 2 years ago by LCD

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