Aluminium vs Steel vs Timber Beachfront Glazing for Villas 

When designing beachfront glazing for luxury villas there are various specification considerations that must be thought of above and beyond those of a typical location. In a marine environment, the glass and the frame need to be able to withstand these harsher environments. You also have the additional consideration of higher wind loads, driving rain and sand.  

The correct and full specification of glazing for beachfront properties is essential to creating an architectural design that will last and is fit for purpose. The below guide will explain the things to consider when specifying glass for a beachfront villa as well as a comparison of some of the most popular architectural glazing solutions.  

modern greek villa design with specialist aluminium glazing
contemporary beachfront villa design with specialist frameless glazing

Frameless Glazing for Beachfront Villas 

When creating a property on a beachfront it is likely that the view will be something to make the most of. Most architectural buildings on a coast facing position will use the maximum glass possible to make the most of these views.  

Frameless structural glazing is a simple yet effective architectural glazing solution to create impressive frameless glass installations such as structural glass walls or a structural glass roof.  

As the glass is fixed into the building structure using fixings that are hidden away, the metal fixings are then protected from harsh coastal environments such as wind and sand. Structural glazing is unique in the fact that the glass specification is bespoke for each project and there are no limits. The advantage of this to beachfront properties is the ability to create frameless glass installations which high levels of strength.  

Designing glass installations to withstand high levels of coastal wind is important in certain climates, especially beachfront villas in the Caribbean or on islands. These areas are more likely to see hurricane-level winds and any frameless glazing installed on them will need to be designed to withstand such loads.  

All structural glazing installations are designed with the wind loading of the particular location in mind. By laminating multiple panes of toughened glass together you can create an ultra-strong pane of glass that can withstand the loads required AND protect inhabitants in the event of an extreme storm.  

The project pictured below in British Columbia, Canada is located on a peninsular on the west coast of Canada, overlooking the North Pacific Ocean. The frameless glass walls open the living area to panoramic views of forest and ocean whilst providing robust protection from the elements.  

frameless structural glass walls in luxury beachfront home in canada

Aluminium Framed Glazing for Beachfront Villas 

For beachfront glazing, structural glass provides you with the most minimal and robust solution for beachfront properties but is always fixed glazing. Aluminium framed elements are the next best solution when you require minimally framed glazing that is also openable.  

Slim framed sliding glass doors offer the slimmest sightlines (of 20-21mm at their most minimal) and are the first choice for architects all over the world who are creating bespoke luxury beachfront properties.  

These systems are designed with an aluminium profile. When being designed for a beach location the frames are treated specifically for the harsh environment which includes pre anodisation and marine-grade powder coating on the frames. Even with this high level of frame performance, the sightlines are maintained at 21mm with a floor to ceiling glass finish, mimicking the visual effect of fixed structural glazing.  

The 4+ slim framed sliding doors from IQ have also been tested to the Florida Building Code standards to provide certification for Hurricane Resistant Glazing. This increases the possible international location uses of these premium sliding glass doors  

This unique architecturally designed house in Mallorca, pictured below, is a great example of this. The house was designed by Alberto Rubio and features slim framed sliding glass doors across all the beach-facing elevations.  

The slim 21mm sightlines of the aluminium sliders ensure that the view is not compromised whilst the high level of engineering behind the system ensures it is suitable for this exposed location.  

luxury beachfront villa design in Mallorca with specialist glazing
luxury beachfront villa design in Mallorca with aluminium sliding glass doors

Steel Framed Glazing for Beachfront Villas

There is a reason that you do not see many traditional steel windows on beachfront properties. The reason for this is that these frames have little innate protection against beachfront environments including the salts in the air and wind born sand. The frames often rust or fail if not properly specified.

It is possible to specify steel-framed glazing for a beachfront location however, you do have to use a very specific frame type and finish.

All beachfront frames that are to be steel should be specified as stainless steel which is then finished with a marine grand powder coat in your colour of choice. This will create a highly durable frame that is also aesthetically matching with the traditional steel glazing design.

The beachfront house in Greece pictured below is an excellent example of the correct use and specification of these specialist metal doors and windows. The visual design of the beachfront glazing is very traditional, in keeping with your typical loft or warehouse project. However, the resulting glass is very modern – both in design and technology.

beachfront villa design in Greece with slim steel framed glazing
luxury greek villa with specialist steel glazing

Timber Framed Glazing for Beachfront Villas 

Timber framed glazing can be specified for beachfront locations in dryer climates. It can still be used in wetter climates but the correct timber specification needs to be chosen that has been property treated. Timber in these locations will have to have a strong maintenance program to ensure it lasts a long time.  

Typically, metal-framed solutions are easier to maintain and offer a longer life expectancy in these locations and are more often the preferred option for architectural designs.  

What Next? 

If you are looking at the glass specification for your own beachfront villa just contact the team at IQ. We have a dedicated team working on projects all over the globe, offering specification advice tailored to your specification and design requirements.  

Visit our Contact Us page for all the ways to get in touch