Are Glass Curtains actually curtains? Or are they windows … or doors? The answer is – Yes!


Originally developed to enclose balconies and terraces in warmer climates, such as Spain, the single glazed glass panels formed a weatherproof wall of glass that took nothing away from the view yet enabled the balcony or terrace to be used on all but the coldest days.

The concept of simply sliding each panel to the side of the aperture and turning it 90 degrees to stack against the side wall gave rise to the term ‘curtain’.

Restaurants and Cafes began enquiring whether their windows could be replaced by the frameless glass panels, the benefits being an enhanced view and ease of opening up the ‘windows’ to maximise air flow. If the whole wall is replaced from the floor, the glass curtains would function as doors.

Inside larger establishments, the slide-and-turn panels were used to partition off areas as necessary, some owners specifying tinted or etched glass to enhance their decor.

Golf clubs and hotels with cloisters saw the advantage of enclosing the areas to maximise their year-round potential. Glass Curtains can be installed to fit inside curved arches; they can also be fitted round the curves of a circular terrace or balcony.


The glass curtains concept was recently introduced to Britain. The original single-glazed toughened glass panels are ideal for internal partitions and commercial purposes but unsuitable as replacements for patio doors in dwellings, as the thermal insulation requirements cannot be met with single glazed units.

However, there are a number of options for householders to consider, depending on which aspects of the design appeals to them

1. Replacing a wall or patio doors with a great view and maximum access.

Bifolding doors offer good views and fold back to the side wall or walls for full access. The door frames determine how good the view might be. For example, cheap plastic frames are quite wide in order to provide some strength, better plastic is reinforced with metal but is wider than wood which, in turn, is wider than aluminium (typically 60mm).

Narrower still are the 20mm frames of slimline doors, new to the market. These are based on the slide-and-turn concept of glass curtains.

2. Achieving great views with individual panels for versatile access.

Slimline double-glazed, mentioned above, were developed in Spain specifically for the UK market. All panels can stack at the side of the opening or can be arranged across the opening to leave gaps between the glass panels. Gaps can be wide enough to walk through or small enough to keep toddlers in or pets out.

Arguably, a bonus of installing this system is the pleasure of being different. Bifolding doors have become popular over the past two or three years, yet they have been available for about ten years – major purchases are not made too often so the growth of such an industry is relatively slow. This new system has just become available and will probably be installed in less than 200 properties this year.

3. Wanting the ultimate frame-free system.

Double glazed, thermally compliant Glass Curtains, similar to slim profile double-glazed – but frameless – are available to order whilst awaiting testing and approval for suitability as external doors.

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