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Old 05-03-2006, 09:39 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Hollywood Riveria, CA
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Should I Get A Glass or Plexiglass Fence/Windbreak?

I want to install a transparent fence/windbreak in my backyard. My backyard is flat from the back of the house to about 20 feet out, then it drops down a slope to the property line about 15 vertical feet below. On the other side of the property line is a school yard. Nice open area with a pleasant view, but absolutely nothing to stop the wind which comes up every afternoon. I want to preserve the view so I'm going transparent. The fence will also serve as a safety tailing to keep people from accidently dropping down the relatively steep slope.

I've gotten a few bids from contractors, and I'm getting conflicting advice. So far I've encountered 2 materials used for the panels, 3/8" tempered glass and plexiglass.

The contractors that use glass insist that plexiglass scratches too easily and my view will be ruined in a few years, maybe less, given the salty air so close to the ocean. The glass they use is thick and unlikely to break.

The contractors that use plexiglass insist plexiglass won't scratch, but glass will break too easily, especially since I have 2 boys, aged 6 and 4.

Anybody have any experience with either that they would like to share?
Old 05-03-2006, 10:52 AM
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Location: Dogpatch/Middle TN.
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Many forms of Plexiglass break down with long exposure to pollutants, or ICE exhaust fumes.
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Old 05-03-2006, 12:16 PM
Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: Somewhere near Boston
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I'm guessing that plexiglass would be scored by abrasive particles on the wind. I've never seen plexiglass that wasn't at least partly opaque due to scratching.
Old 05-03-2006, 02:29 PM
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Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Anderson, IN,USA
Posts: 14,741
In Practical Sailor magazine, I have seen plenty of questions and "this sorta works" answers about Plexiglas windows and hatch covers. Ultraviolet light and salt spray turn them from transparent to cloudy/translucent.
Old 05-03-2006, 03:13 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: The great PNW.
Posts: 3,636
I was also wondering about the effects of the Sun and UV rays on Plexiglas. Could you substitute a lattice work barrier, or a slatted one, perhaps even w/ adjustable louvers? Either of these would allow a view and would also cut down the effect of a strong wind, while still allowing air circulation on calmer days. These would seem, to me, to be more attractive than glass or Plexiglas.
Old 05-03-2006, 04:05 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Seattle
Posts: 11,625
Tempered glass doesn't break as easily as normal glass, and it pebbles when it does break. However, when it breaks, it does so explosively (don't ask how I know this, just picture having little glass pebbles in your hair, even in your pockets.)
Double pane tempered safety glass is less likely to break, you could hit it with a hammer in the center, but it would break, if hit on the edge by a stray lawn mower rock. You could put a protective frame that covers the sensitive 2" edge.
With temperature changes, you could lose the seals, making the inside cloudy. There are methods to repair that though, without replacing the glass. Also, that type is obscenely expensive. It's the type of glass that they use in glass highrises. Also it may only be available tinted or silvered. The silvering would keep people on the outside from seeing into your yard.

My husband suggests putting in a small sample panels for a few weeks and see what works best.
Old 05-03-2006, 04:17 PM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 2,522
Acrylic scratches very easily and can get a haze on it. It is clearer than glass on comparitive thickness levels. It is easier to buff scratches out of acrylic. There is a reason most people buy glass aquariums. Even though glass is far more fragile as far as breakage and heavier, it is a better long term solution for a tank. For a wall? I'd think the same factors come in to play.
That must be a great view, neither solution sounds particularly cheap. All things being equal, I think I would go with safety glass.

I'd start off with the samples of the thickness you would put there and live with them for a while.
Old 05-03-2006, 06:53 PM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Rochester, MI
Posts: 2,192
I read somewhere that smoked glass is preferable for this application. I guess no one else sees the humor in warching small animals bouncing off the panes...
Old 05-03-2006, 11:43 PM
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Location: 21 20' N 157 55' W
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How about using Lexan?
Old 05-04-2006, 12:18 AM
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: San Jose, CA
Posts: 1,342
I'd second A.R. Cane's whole post #5, about the lattice or slats. Depending on how the wind blows, a solid wall of whatever material can lead to eddying and gusting that's as bad or worse than a straight wind.

A lattice or louver tempers the wind down to liveable air movement.

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