Frameless Glazing Frequently Asked Questions

Frameless glazing covers a broad range of products including doors, windows and screens.  Where contemporary and minimalist looking glass products are required inside and outside the home, frameless glazing products provide solutions. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about frameless doors, windows and general glazing.

There is also more information about the frameless slide and fold doors around sightlines, performance and energy efficiency.

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Is frameless glazing really frameless?

There are different types of frameless glazing that need suitable fixing to the structure.  Even structural glazing found on facades and commercial buildings needs some form of fixing, even if it is not a frame.
Therefore, most frameless systems do need some sort of frame or fixing method. 

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Frameless doors and windows

All sliding and bifolding doors need a frame, essential for the locking systems, track, sealing and security. Therefore there is no 100% frameless system. Unless you hide the door frames into the structure, you will always have a visible surround frame, but there are slimline sliding doors or folding doors with slimmer sightlines.

Examples include hidden fixings, recessed and hidden frames, patch fittings, brackets or other methods.  Frameless glazing is not 100% frameless but comes with the bare minimum of a visible or hidden frame.

how good are frameless bifolding doors?

Bearing in mind there is no fully frameless system, your options are the bifolding doors with the slimmest mullion sightlines, or the slide and turn systems. Do your research or get in touch as some products are marketed as frameless when they are not. These also vary in security, weather performance and other specifications.

The slide and turn door models very much depend on sightlines and therefore cost. The frameless versions are the most expensive, then there are very slim aluminium versions.

Beware some frameless doors are only available single-glazed and intended for canopies and verandas, not suitable for exterior glazing and patio doors. The correct product should be safe, secure, easy to use and energy efficient whilst also meeting current Building Regulations.

why are frameless doors more expensive?

It is easy to assume that the less aluminium in a product, the cheaper it should be compared to its fully framed alternative.
Prices on home improvement products vary considerably from company to company, so it is always worth getting at least three quotations and also comparing the products to ensure the prices are like-for-like.

One of the reasons frameless doors and windows are more expensive than aluminium doors and windows is that the manufacturing process is more complicated. These products are largely made around the glass in the factory, whereas aluminium doors and windows are manufactured ‘unglazed’ for the glass to be installed on-site. So the installer that buys in these products is paying a markup on the glass that they would normally buy themselves directly for their aluminium doors.

Another reason for the price differences is the fitting and transportation of fully glazed products is more complicated, often with special machines required and more labour on site to handle the heavier products.

what are the advantages of frameless doors and windows?

An all-glass appearance, a minimalist look and maximising views are just three of the advantages of having frameless doors and windows in your home.

For doors especially, no sliding or bifolding doors can offer the uninterrupted views of a frameless product or one with minimal visible aluminium.

The disadvantage to these products is more complexity should there be a fault in the future, especially if the glass units should fail or break. It’s unlikely a regular glazier will want to work with frameless doors. Therefore choose your installer and brand carefully.

What types of frameless products are available?

The frameless products available also depend on where they are to be located. Typical products include,

Frameless opening and fixed windows.
Frameless bifolding doors.
Frameless Apex and Gable Windows.
Balustrades.
Rooflights
Internal glass doors.
Frameless porches.
Glass Splashbacks.
Glass Rooms/Frameless glazed extensions.
Frameless garden rooms.
Glass Staircases
Glass worktops and slashbacks.
Shower Screens.

how big can a frameless window be?

It depends. The maximum size of the glass, the size a frame can take, and other technical considerations determine the size.

The maximum size the product has been designed at.
The forces of wind and the deflection on the glass.
Transportation constraints.
The pieces of glass the glass processing company is able to handle, toughen and laminate.

is a frameless door or window safe?

Absolutely.  Blackpool Tower, for example, has a glass floor at the top of the tower that you can stand on. There are also frameless rooflights called ‘walk-on glass’. There are even glass staircases that project out from the wall in a floating design with no apparent support.
Frameless products use laminated, toughened or very thick glass in multiple layers. This kind of glass is designed with strength and structural integrity.
Frameless doors and windows are designed and made around the glass, that is the structural component of the overall product. So any correctly designed and tested frameless door, window or screen should be fit for purpose. And of course, there are many British and European standards relating to glass safety.

can you have integral blinds in a frameless door?

In most cases it’s not possible to have integral blinds in doors that are frameless with exposed glass edges.

how long will a frameless glass product last?

There are many different manufacturers of frameless glass products, all with different guarantees.
As frameless glass products are relatively new in the UK, it is hard to comment on the long-term performance of these over two or three decades.  That said, there is no reason why a frameless product with quality glass, quality manufacturing and a good installation should not provide many years of reliable service.

Many products come with a 10-year guarantee and with longer warranty periods on the powder coating of any aluminium frames.

Talk to your frameless provider that can provide specific information about how these frameless products perform in the long term. However, just like any consumer product over the years they are improved, superceded and some are discontinued altogether over time.  Obviously, internal products like doors, screens, splashbacks should last a very long time.

IS FRAMELESS GLAZING ENERGY-EFFICIENT?

It is important to know that frameless products benefit from the best in glass technology, manufacturing, coatings and components.

Single-glazed products are excluded from any energy efficiency. Double or triple-glazed frameless products have very good U-Values on the glass units. Just like a full framed PVCu or aluminium window and door, the glass is the primary component that contributes the most to the overall energy efficiency and U-Values.

Your provider will be able to provide full details, but as a general guide, frameless products for external use meet or exceed current Building Regulations for thermal efficiency.

IS THRE A LOT OF SOLAR GAIN FROM FRAMELESS GLASS?

In a residential or commercial setting, you may need to consider privacy, shading and all-around comfort on hot and cold days. Frameless glazing does not have substantially more solar gain than framed doors or windows.

For privacy, you may need to consider blinds.  If you don’t want to have open blinds visible, there are those that fall from your ceiling and disappear from sight when open. There is even switchable smart glass that changes from clear to obscure at the flick of a switch.

Most professional glass suppliers try to address the issue of solar gain with solar control glazing, and your supplier should advise you on the likely solar gain from a large glass door or picture window.