Glass vs Plastic Skylights: A Performance Comparison

August 9, 2023

Skylights have revolutionised the architecture of commercial and residential spaces. 

With their upwards-facing designs, skylights infuse your home with natural light and blur the boundaries between indoors and outside. It’s no surprise that the housing market is full of new builds with ready-made skylights. 

But as the demand for skylights grows, so does the manufacturing industry: technicians now experiment with various natural materials in search of the perfect rooflight components. 

Among these materials, glass and plastic stand out as two primary contenders. To make a well-informed decision, architects, builders and homeowners must clearly understand how glass and plastic differ in performance, functionality, energy efficiency and aesthetics. 

What are glass skylights? 

Glass skylights (or glass rooflights) are often made from toughened safety glass. Manufacturing rooflights with toughened glass has several advantages, mainly related to their strength, durability and resistance to heat. 

What are the properties of glass skylights?

Strength and safety

Up to five times stronger than standard glass, toughened panes can withstand heavy pressure and, in the rare occasion of breakage, shatter into small, even pieces. Clean breakage is important, as it minimises the risk of injury. 

Heat resistance

Toughened glass rooflights can withstand high pressure and temperatures equally, with a heat resistance of over 250 degrees. That’s why they’re often used in government buildings, residential properties and even schools. 

Noise reduction 

If you want to keep sound contained within your home, toughened safety rooflights are the perfect solution. Their noise reduction properties are twice as effective compared to standard glass, meaning you can easily soundproof your home or residential space. 

What are plastic skylights?

Plastic rooflights are often made with polycarbonate: this plastic polymer can be easily moulded, allows for excellent light transfer and is a cost-effective choice for rooflights. 

What are the properties of plastic skylights? 


Polycarbonate skylights are suitable for use in a wide range of climates. They offer great weather protection and will not fade in colour or quality over time. 


Plastic skylights are typically cheaper than glass skylights because the material is often manufactured in large quantities, keeping costs low. It’s also lightweight and easy for installers to put into your home: this could save time and money on installation costs. 

Thermally efficient

‘Triple skin’ polycarbonate skylights have excellent thermal insulation: this is excellent for minimising heat loss in the winter and keeping your home warm. 

Are glass or plastic skylights better? 

Now that we know more about the properties of glass and plastic skylights, how does each material perform when compared? To make an informed decision, you must factor in budget, energy efficiency, and your current climate. 

Is glass or plastic stronger? 

While polycarbonate rooflights undergo rigorous strength testing and are extremely durable, toughened glass rooflights reign supreme. They are 400-500% more resistant to shock and impact, making them highly combative to break-ins.  

Is glass or plastic more energy efficient?

Energy efficiency refers to a rooflight’s ability to allow natural light into the building while minimising heat gain or loss.

Energy-efficient rooflights should effectively harness sunlight without letting excessive heat escape in winter or enter in summer. 

Plastic rooflights have thermal insulation properties but toughened safety glass rooflights with thermal breaks reduce condensation and improve your home’s energy efficiency. When it comes to energy efficiency, toughened glass rooflights reign supreme. 

Is glass or plastic more cost-effective? 

Due to low-manufacturing costs, plastic rooflights are more affordable for customers on tighter budgets. Glass skylights involve more intricate manufacturing and installation processes, meaning they come at a higher price point. 

Does glass or plastic offer a better view? 

Both glass and plastic skylights allow ample natural light into a space. 

However, glass skylights are known for providing clearer and more unobstructed views of the sky and surroundings, while plastic skylights might offer a slightly diffused light quality.

Choose TuffX for toughened safety glass rooflights

Take your property up a notch with TuffX. As the North West’s foremost rooflight manufacturer, we can use our toughened safety glass to make a range of dazzling architectural creations: from walk-on rooflights to roof lanterns, glass stair treads to conservatory glass, TuffX products give your home a modern feel while improving energy efficiency.