Fiberglass Skylights

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Pros & Cons of Fiberglass Skylights

Fiberglass skylights are made with FRP, or fiber-reinforced polymers. All fiberglass constructed skylights require maintenance. Cleaning the skylights periodically is helpful in removing pollution and light-blocking dirt from the exterior surface.

Fiberglass skylights have an exterior gelcoat that helps reduce damage from UV rays, but this wears away over time. It depends upon the manufacturer and even when it was manufactured to determine how often the fiberglass gelcoat needs replaced or re-coated. This is critical to fiberglass skylight care, as it prevents fiberbloom, which leads to water infiltration, discoloration, bacterial infection and unpleasant odors.

Do you already have fiberbloom? Read more here.

Fiberglass skylights are commonly used on commercial buildings because they are much more cost-effective than glass. They also provide diffused light, which reduces heat gain, glare and other discomforts usually caused by glass glazing.

Polycarbonate is another option to consider. Like fiberglass, it is much more cost-effective than glass glazing, and provides improved energy efficiency over both glass and fiberglass glazing. It also has reduced maintenance costs, and doesn’t need UV gel coats.

We offer free consultations to help you choose the best product for your building or project. Contact us so we can help solve your daylighting or glazing issues today!

Do You Have Stinky Skylights?

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Fiber Bloom

Building managers and owners are typically surprised that skylight can stink, horribly, but have no idea what causes this unpleasant condition.

Fiberglass skylights are protected from the elements by a coating sometimes referred to as “gel coat”. The coating has a UV blockage component to help prevent the sun’s rays from damaging the fiberglass and causing fiber bloom. This coating breaks down over time, and when its lifespan is over, fiber bloom starts to occur.

Fiber bloom is when bacteria are able to get into the fiberglass, and start to break down the material and spread. It’s basically a bacterial infection for your building. Its unhealthy for the inhabitants of the building, and causes a very unpleasant stinky smell.

Detection of Fiber Blooming

One method of inspecting the skylight for fiber blooming is by running your hand across the surface on the exterior of the panels. If your hand picks up fiberglass and you see fiberglass particles in the air, then you know that you have lost the gel coat and immediate maintenance is required.

If you notice brown spots inside the panels or even notice an unpleasant or stinky smell permeating the air inside the building then the gel coat is gone and water has penetrated to the interior of the panels. The spots are bacterial growth spots, and the smell is from them breaking down the fiberglass. Replacement of those panels with a product other than fiberglass is recommended.

Fiberglass Gel Coat

fiberglass gelcoat repairUnfortunately the coating applied to the exterior of the skylights by the fiberglass manufacturers does have a short life-span and requires a regular scheduled maintenance. This time span varies greatly from manufacturer to manufacturer.

Fiberglass Skylight Inspections

Our experience has shown that the skylights should be inspected about every five years to insure that the exterior surface is in good condition and does not degrade too far. If the coating disintegrates it leaves the fiberglass strands exposed and allows water penetration. This should be avoided if at all possible, because it begins a process that is very difficult to return the skylight to its original condition. If caught soon enough a new layer of gelcoat can be applied that will extend the life of the product.

A warning sign of fiberglass breaking down is when the skylight emits a yellow light. This yellow light is bad for our health and typically our clients are tired of the feeling it gives.  They express the desire to replace the skylight in order to capture the blue light available from the sun. But if the skylight has become smelly, then it’s too late to save, and absolutely needs to be replaced.

Skylight Specialists, Inc., a Denver, CO company brings 35-years of commercial skylight repair experience to the table. We approach skylight repairs from a perspective that comes from decades of hands-on experience with problem skylights. From the smallest to some of the largest skylights in America.

Detailed information on our services and repair process.
Available for work in Colorado and coast to coast — It all starts with a simple phone call: 1-866-759-7732

Chase Bank of Loveland

Chase Bank of Loveland Hero

A Pyramid Skylight Retrofit Will Provide Improved Daylighting

The Chase Bank building in Loveland, CO has four low-rise pyramid skylights. The bank has experienced problems with these skylights over the years. Gaskets failing, condensation problems, and popping noises were a just few of the constant problems.

The biggest complaint, however, was the quality of the light and the heat from the sun. The light the skylights were projecting into the building was the number one complaint over the years. The longer the acrylic panels were in place the worse the yellowing of the light and the unbearable heat gain, especially on the second floor.

Going up to the second floor was like being an ant under a magnifying glass in the summer.
The Contractor

We discussed with the contractor and building owner the combinations of colors we could use to gain the control they were looking for. It was decided to use a blue polycarbonate outer layer with an interior layer of Ice White Matte. The Ice White Matte allows the light to be dispersed evenly across and down from each skylight.

A Daylighting Comparison: Yellowed Fiberglass vs. Translucent Polycarbonate

Lakewood Mall Retrofit with Quadwall

Los Angeles area mall reduces glare and daily energy expenditure with CPI Daylighting’s Quadwall® panels

Bright spots, dark patches and solar heat gain plagued suburban Los Angeles’ Lakewood Center for decades, causing a rise in the mall’s HVAC costs and energy expenditure. In 2010, the then 60-year-old mall began a 4-phase renovation over the next four years that would replace 42,000  square feet of ageing plexiglass skylight with CPI Daylighting’s Quadwall® panels.

The number one advantage of the Quadwall is that there’s an insulating factor between the outside and the inside, which helps the climate control inside the mall because the right temperature can be maintained using less HVAC, since the renovation, we’ve cut the run time of the AC units by four hours per day!

Scott Cleveland, Operations Manager, Lakewood Center, Lakewood, CA

The skylights were installed 25 years ago when the roof was first put on the once open mall, but had leaked and cracked over time, holding a U-value of .73 when replaced. By contrast, the new CPI Daylighting Quadwall panels have a .22 U-value.

An assembly of two independent translucent insulated panels, the Quadwall system provides indefinite building envelope protection with its Removable Skin Technology (RST) that allows the exterior panel to be removed while still maintaining the integrity of the interior panel. Joined by a mechanically interlocking connection, the dry-glazed Quadwall system eliminates the need for vulnerable adhesives, adding durability, as well as even light distribution with the system’s tight-cell technology. Specified for Lakewood Center in 10 mm ice white matte exterior over 8 mm ice white matte interior, the two panel Quadwall system is an integrated, high-performance daylighting system.

With the Removable Skin Technology, we won’t have the same type of replacement challenges, plus the strength of the panel and the way it’s built makes a big difference too. In the long run, because of zero maintenance and CPI Daylighting’s warranty, costs should be very low on the maintenance side of it.

Scott Cleveland, Operations Manager, Lakewood Center, Lakewood, CA

Scalable, the Quadwall system can be configured with additional insulation, UL-rated Class A or B fire rated roof assembly, sound reduction, dynamic shading, additional structural performance or even military forced entry resistance as well.

Today, visitors to the Lakewood Center enjoy an enhanced shopping experience, as high quality light streams through the new CPI Daylighting Quadwall panels.

I definitely see a difference in the way the interior light looks from the old skylight to the new Quadwall. It’s much brighter without any glare. Now, that’s what we were looking to achieve!

Scott Cleveland, Operations Manager, Lakewood Center, Lakewood, CA

Richmond Olympic Oval Is Awarded with IAKS/IOC All Time Award

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The Richmond Olympic Oval Is Only North American Sports Facility Awarded with IAKS/IOC All Time Award

The Richmond Olympic Oval, the signature venue from the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games – and a venue that has 63,000 sq. ft. of CPI’s Quadwall® – has received the All Time Award from the International Association of Sports and Leisure Facilities (IAKS) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) – an award reserved for landmark sports facilities from the past half-century.

Olympic Oval

I don’t think this is anything close to an (overstatement) – this building has no equal anywhere in the world. No building in Olympic history looks anything like this and will do anything like this.
John Furlong, CEO – VANOC

The All Time Award is only awarded once every 50 years, in conjunction with IAKS 50th anniversary, and will not be awarded again until 2065. The Richmond Oval is the only award winner in North America, and is only one of ten to win.

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We have always been remarkably proud of the visionary work that helped make the Richmond Olympic Oval a stand out facility during the 2010 Games, a cultural treasure for the community and region in the years since, and now with this award from IAKS, one of the best sports facilities of our time.
CannonDesign Principal Ken Wiseman

The Richmond Olympic Oval is the first speed skating facility ever designed with long term use in mind. Built within a new urban revitalization project in Richmond, BC, it continues to enrich and support the community as a sports community center and international sports venue.

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Speed skating venues face significant hurdles after olympic games, their size, specific use, and cost of operations make maintaining them long term problematic.

The Richmond Oval was designed for multi-sport use and convertibility. The main space allows for both ice sports to operate with other sports or community uses simultaneously, and it can always be reverted to a speed skating oval at any time. To keep operating costs down, the building was designed for and achieved LEED Silver status, aided by the inclusion of CPI Quadwall to provide both daylighting and insulation.

Read further on the architect’s, Cannon Design, website here:

Richmond Olympic Oval

Richmond Olympic Oval Recognized