top of page
  • Writer's pictureRobert Hebert

Is it Lexan or Polycarbonate Panel?

Updated: Oct 28, 2021

Is it Lexan or Polycarbonate Panel? Is like saying “Is it Kleenex or Facial Tissue?” Lexan is “the well known brand”, Polycarbonate is the generic term. The Architect’s personal residence is a great place to try it.

We live in an 1970’s California Contemporary originally designed by Irving Palmquist, AIA of Home Planners Inc. Unfortunately, this California Contemporary home was built in NORTHERN Illinois. Distinctive feature of this style of house is NO overhangs/eaves, and the open embracing of nature. Learn more about this style <here>.

For us, this style means a beautiful open stair. A master bedroom balcony that overlooks the living room. And SIXTEEN 4’x8′ full height glass windows. But it also meant that the front, open patio was a problem, rather than an asset. It would fill with snow, and made the front door unusable. The lack of ANY eave had caused water issues along all three walls of the patio. And, since the front of the home faces about 35 degrees off north – HOT afternoon sun shines on those eight large glass windows, really warming up our Foyer.



This is the home we started with a few years back. NO overhang, with north-west facing open patio. .

Our Architectural Solution to these problems was to add a “roof” over the front patio. Not wanting a dark, cold, and more enclosed space, we explored “skylights”. Our initial idea was a glass roof. The structure alone came in at $20,000!!! Rob next discovered a VERY helpful gentleman, Tim Fikkert, AIA, who assisted in the design and loading of Polycarbonate sheets. In addition he helped guide the choice of transparency AND UV protection. We selected a 25mm product to meet the span of the new infill structure that Architect Rob designed.

New Structure to support the Polycarbonate

The Polycarbonate Panel we chose was Amerilux CoverLite® 25mm . This product provided optimal clarity (ability to see the clouds thru the material), light transmission (in our case, we want some shading of those large windows), and the ability to span about 6′-0″ between intermediate supports.

To further enhance the appearance we added color adjustable, PAR, LED track lights under the polycarbonate. As of this writing, 11/11, we have Red, White, and Blue for Veterans Day.


We wanted to carry the “design parti” of the backlit polycarbonate panel to the rear of the house. The rear was rather “bland” and needed some Architectural pizzazz at our outdoor living area. We had two design challenges to meet.

The first, similar to the front, was to control the sun and solar heat gain. The rear of the house faces south to south east. The upper/bedroom windows already have a small 24″ overhang that almost totally shaded the windows in the summer. Our design idea was to add a 24″ deep polycarbonate bris soli above the lower windows.

The second challenge was how to illuminate the 75′ long Bris Solei, at our 1,000sf patio. We met the challenge by adding LED strip lights to the bris soli and using the polycarbonate to diffuse the lighting.

YES – the color of the light changes. The LED tape light is wired to a toggle light switch right inside the patio door. To change the color of the light we have a small remote controller.

How do you like it? Let us know in the comments.

Want to add some Polycarbonate Panel to your business or home? Contact Belles Firm of Architecture! We can connect you with the right people for your project.

This post is NOT sponsored by anyone. We are just sharing our design expertise and construction experience with YOU! We do not earn any income or favors from any the links found within this article.

39 views0 comments


bottom of page