Together with its immense and overwhelming beauty the sea brings with it one of the most hostile environments to building materials that exist. Designers, builders and architects must consider which material to specify in these areas so that they do not corrode, rot or crumble away with these harsh conditions. Specifying the correct glazing systems to marine environments is highly important.
What is a "marine grade finish"?
Any property within 5 miles of a sea front is defined as being in a ‘marine environment’ and is therefore under the same kind of atmosphere and harsh environment as those directly on sea fronts. Those properties are situated in atmospheres with much higher than average organic chemical contents- higher levels of alkaline, moisture, salt and corrosive deposits from the sea. On top of that the strong winds that the house is exposed to. All of these above significantly affect the performance and lifespan of windows and doors in these areas.
In order to ensure the excellent durability in the face of harsher natural chemicals of the coastal environment certain protections are applied to the aluminium frame and glass. One of them is "Marine Grade" finish. It is a term used to describe a powder coating for aluminium frames at least 60 microns thick. This ensures that there is adequate colour coating over the aluminium framing to protect it from corrosion and damage from the external marine environment. Applying those extra measures helps also to ensure easy maintenance throughout its lifetime.
7 tips for installing windows and doors
in a coastal environment
1) Choose the right materials - unprotected metal, untreated wood and many more unsuitable materials will experience a very short life span in a coastal environment. The combination of salt, humidity and wind will eat away all unprepared materials. Aluminium is usually the best framing material to use in marine environments over more traditional materials such as steel or timber due to its more durable nature and ease of care. Modern finishings can be applied to aluminium which prepare it for harsher marine environments.
2) Aluminium within a ‘marine environment’ requires specialised coating, protection and maintenance. You must ensure in these environments that all aluminium framing is powder coated to marine grade standards. In order to create a long lasting finish PCW always recommend pre-anodising the frames and applying a marine grade powder coat over that.
3) Materials such as a marine grade stainless steel and anodised aluminium have very good corrosion resistance. Most types, but in particular lower grade stainless steel, will “tea stain” and the only way to avoid this is to use a highly polished type and/or clean it regularly with a special cleaner that removes these superficial deposits. It is important to note that the tea staining on stainless steel is superficial and it will not corrode or compromise its structural integrity.
4) All hardware should also receive a special coating to protect them and ensure longer life-span. When choosing a metal to use as part of the balcony structure or other, it is essential to understand the corrosion resistance of each of these materials in relation to its function and position within the building envelope.
5) The glass panels will also need special attention as they will be under the same environment strains as the framing systems. In fixed elements structural glass can withstand a huge amount of wind load so is perfectly able to cope with all weather conditions including those on direct coastal areas. Consideration needs to be given to the open space by the sea for wind load calculation (these calculations are handled by our expert team).
6) Glass is very durable, but marine conditions can put it through a tough life of constant abrasion with salty and sandy air. These can slowly but surely deteriorate the face and surface of the glass, causing it to lose its shine, clarity and get more opaque as time goes by. When using a large amount of glass the upkeep of the glass is also a consideration. It is always recommended to use a ‘Low Maintenance’ coating on all glass to be installed in coastal environments. This coating evens the microscopically rough surface and makes it much more difficult for any deposits from the area to settle on the glass, thus making the glass cleaner for longer and making it much easier to clean when needed.
7) Be prepared for large amounts of water hitting the door. It then has to be drained from the frames, so plan for relevant drainage when thinking about smooth thresholds and clean lines of your outside space. Builders need to connect drain holes from the main frame to drain water out to the downpipe (your builder will probably quote separately for that).
Read our Case Study and find out how we manufactured, customised and installed our signature Slim Sliding Doors for a coastal property situated in, so called, "British Miami" - picturesque beachside residential area at Poole Harbour, Dorset.