Very good perspective. This gives me ideas. I wonder if I should create wooden door frames that accept polycarb or acrylic inserts. They would scratch over time, but would be lighter, replaceable and much cheaper.I'd agree that swing doors will work better than sliders at this size, but swing doors DO require quite a bit of engineering to be safe and properly functional.
I'm almost embarrassed to say how much a pair of 3/8" thick low-iron glass doors, 22"w x 31"h each, tempered, beveled edges, with commercial grade self-closing hinges and simple pulls cost to have installed in a larger terrarium I built: $500.00 at my custom glass man's material costs. His retail would have been nearly double that.
The plate size and function/stresses drive the thickness, the thickness drives the hardware "gauge" and both of these drive the price. I also had to beef up the enclosure design to stiffen the side jambs to support the hinges, so the glass would not sag.
This custom glazier work was done by a friend who does all of our top-of-the-line shower/steam shower enclosures in our custom/luxury homes. The "heavy duty everything" was driven by my requirement to have frameless swing doors this large. In essence, as heavy as the doors and hardware are, they could have been full-size shower doors for the little more actual glass it would have taken. The commercial grade self-closing hinges pull the doors closed once they are within about 30 degrees of closing and will stand open between about 45 and 90 degrees. The tempering was optional, but just good sense to have it done for safety reasons when glass is that size.
I could have saved a lot of money by having smaller panes, (like having sidelight or sill/transom panels) thus reducing required thickness. I could have saved some by using a frame to support the glass, instead of having hinges and pulls drilled in. I could have saved even more if I had been able to use sliders and eliminate the relatively expensive hardware. As it was, I had a design idea and told my guy to just do it, knowing he would be fair with me and the value would exceed the cost, but I still have to admit being a bit surprised when I got the final bill.
Bottom line, be prepared to spend a lot to have it done correctly into large openings or downsize your openings and simplify/economize the glass requirements
I'd consider something like aluminum for the framing -- wood would also be quite heavy, and possibly hard to seal effectively at the transition to acrylic.Very good perspective. This gives me ideas. I wonder if I should create wooden door frames that accept polycarb or acrylic inserts. They would scratch over time, but would be lighter, replaceable and much cheaper.
Great points. Especially the stationary front and side door access. Reminds me of how zoos and museums do it.I'd consider something like aluminum for the framing -- wood would also be quite heavy, and possibly hard to seal effectively at the transition to acrylic.
Do you nee to have the whole front glass area openable? A glass panel up top, and at bottom, and then two swinging doors in the middle section would be lighter doors, anyway, and could get by with thinner glass. Lots of seams to interrupt the visual affect, though.
Another idea: full glass front, and a side access made of whatever you want.