Contractor perspective: Pros and cons of glass fencing

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Contractor perspective: Pros and cons of glass fencing
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Contractor perspective: Pros and cons of glass fencing

Glass fencing is one of the most aesthetic fence options. If you've ever seen a glass fence, then you know that it can make any space look luxurious. Whether it's for a swimming pool, balcony, or landscape, a glass fence has a look and feel all its own. Just like any building material, it has its weaknesses and strengths that make it a good option for some homeowners, but not all.

Pros

While most of the glass fencing I've installed was used in commercial settings, I have been using it more and more in residential areas. Around swimming pools, decks, and even property boundaries, glass fence can contribute to a high-end design. Many people tout glass fencing as the ultimate fence material and here's why:

  • Clarity. It won't obstruct or detract from the area's natural features. It allows homeowners to enjoy the view of a nearby beach or distant mountains.

Strength. In my experience, glass fence is one of the strongest materials for fencing, railing, and partitions. Tempered glass and its unbelievably strong fasteners ensure your fence stays put despite the elements.

Durability. Because glass fence takes the weather so well, it will last a lifetime even in extreme weather conditions. Aluminum, titanium, and stainless steel fastening systems ensure that fasteners won't corrode from the weather.

Resistance to chemical corrosion. When conventional building materials around swimming pools are in constant contact with chlorinated pool chemicals, they quickly age and decay. Tempered glass and its stout metal fasteners resist chemical corrosion very well.

Cons

With all these great features, it's easy to see why so many people are installing glass fences. But don't think that they are a cure-all for just any average home improvement project. Glass fencing has its problems as well; here are a few I've discovered over the years:

  • Scratches. I once installed a glass fence only to have the homeowner call me a week later saying there was a problem. Several of the glass panels were severely scratched. Turns out, she used an abrasive cleaner that scratched the glass panels. We were able to buff most of the damage out, but not every scratch.

Expense. Glass fence is pretty costly to buy -- close to $100 per panel -- and install, especially in rural areas.

Invisibility. While that may seem like a good thing, if you're not paying attention, you could end up running into the fence. Also expect it to take a while for your pets to get used to an invisible fence.

Maintenance. Just like any large piece of glass, it needs to be cleaned often. Using harsh abrasives or dangerous chemicals is never recommended for glass fencing. Distilled white vinegar is about the only solution that does the cleaning trick.
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