The Versatility of Glass: Why Glass Is Not “Just Glass”

By Deb Levy


Most people think all glass is the same. But it’s not. There are literally hundreds of thousands of types of glass, all with unique qualities and performance characteristics. By incorporating different elements into glass, you can create a myriad of items.

  • Mirrors: Add a silver backing to glass and you have created a mirror.

  • Tempered Glass: Heat and then cool glass very quickly in a special oven and you have made tempered glass.

  • Insulating Glass: If you seal two pieces of glass with a space between them (filled with air or inert gases), you have created insulating glass.

  • Windshield: Your windshield is really a “glass sandwich” called laminated glass, made of two pieces of float glass with a plastic interlayer in between them.

Decorative, dichromic, high-performance, insulating, mirror, reflective, low-emissivity...there is no limit to the types of glass from which to choose. So how do you know the right type of glass to use for your project? Let’s see.

How To Choose The Right Glass For Your Project

Windows:

Consider the climate that you live in. Is it important to have excellent insulation for those blazing hot summers or freezing winters? Double pane windows are standard, but triple glazed windows provide greater efficiency. Upfront costs are higher, but savings on energy costs can be considerable. Consult your local window installer to determine what style and features would best suite your home.

Front Door Glass Inserts:

The front door to your home can make or break its curb appeal. When picking out the perfect entry, first, consider your home’s design and determine what style of door would best compliment the exterior. This includes determining what portion of the door will be glass and what portion will be wood or vinyl. Some entry doors are made nearly entirely of glass with only a small border around the outside, while others utilize a handful of small glass accent panes in an otherwise solid door.

Next comes the design of the glass itself. Clear? Frosted? Textured? These are just a few of the options. A popular feature is grooved metal bars that hold the glass in place, called "caming, which can create unique designs.

Now that you know what to look for, visit your local door dealer to browse options and pick out that door that sets your house apart from the rest.

Patio Doors:

Patio doors serve as a connection between your inside living space and the outdoors. To bring the outside in, consider which style of door will allow you to have the largest opening while maintaining functionality. Popular options include sliding, swinging, French, and folding. Taller and wider doors will help to create an extension of your living space. Materials play a big part in finding the best patio doors. Because the majority of the door is glass, you may want to consider energy efficient options such as low-e glass or internal blinds. Durability is an important factor too since this door is exposed to the elements. Framing made from vinyl, fiberglass, or aluminum will likely weather better than wood.

Furniture:

Furniture doesn’t have to be made out of wood—glass acts as an excellent way to diversify the materials used in your home’s décor. The cool hard surface of glass creates a modern look when paired with metal framing or an air of sophistication when blended with the warmth of wood. It makes for an excellent table top and can be tinted or frosted to suit the colors and feel of the space. Glass tops can be cut in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, and the edges can even be finished in different ways for a unique look.

Shower Doors:

Glass shower doors can be a simple way to at a touch of elegance to your bathroom and make the space feel bigger. There are many options to consider when upgrading your current bathroom, or replacing existing glass.

Frame(less)

Framed glass panels are economical because they use thinner glass, with the frame as support and come in a variety of finishes to match your bath’s current hardware. Frameless shower doors have a sleek look but cost more due to being thicker, which creates their structural integrity.

Hinges

Depending on the size of your bathroom and shower, you may want to consider more than just your standard hinge. A pivot hinge lets the shower door open 180 degrees- 90 to the inside of the shower, and 90 to the outside of the shower. For a truly unique look, there is even a center mount pivot which would let the door rotate a full 360 degrees. But if space is an issue, a great look can still be achieved with a sliding (bypass) system.

Shape

Square enclosures are standard and have a bold look, but to utilize your space more effectively, consider a corner shower with a rounded front.

Dimensions

Your shower enclosure also plays a role in how much steam stays trapped inside the shower. For an extra steamy shower, choose a tall enclosure that will help keep the air trapped inside. Some systems even have vents that can be opened or closed.

Finish

Your design tastes and privacy preferences will play an important role when choosing which glass is right for your shower enclosure. The tempered glass used in showers can be clear, tinted, etched with design, or frosted to your desired opaqueness.

Storefronts:

Every business with foot or drive-by traffic knows the importance of having an appealing storefront, which can make or break the amount of business a company does. The storefront acts as a way for passersby to preview the business- whether it be a product, service, or place to dine- it creates an invitation to come inside to sample the business’ offerings.

One way to do this is with a glass storefront. Glass offers many features that allow for both an effective and efficient frontage. However, there are some factors that should be considered such as:

Energy: Large storefronts are bound to feel the effects of temperature changes, warm or cold. Therefore, it is important to choose the right glass for your store’s climate. For extra insulation, try low-e, gas filled double or triple pane windows.

For extra protection against the sun, or added privacy, frosted windows or aftermarket tint applied to the windows can help cut down on the transparency. This is especially important when dealing with storefronts that include items that may fa de, melt, or spoil in direct sun.

Security: Storefronts are always subject to risks such as theft, damage from severe weather, or vandalism like graffiti. Having the right materials in place can greatly reduce the effects or downtime from these. First, tempered glass very important because it shatters into rounded pieces, rather than shards withedges. This will reduced risk of injury, and make cleanup easier.

Another option is safety of security glass which is designed to withstand unplanned or purposeful impact, respectively. Adding a layer of window film can also be another excellent way to add structural integrity, or make graffiti removal easier.

Contact your local commercial glass specialist so they can help determine the best options to best suit the needs of your business.

Custom Projects:

Custom projects, like commercial office buildings, multifamily housing developments, or other largescale construction work involving the building envelope and curtainwall industry takes a specialist. We have the industry connections you need to bring your architectural designs to fruition.

Contact Glass.com today for additional information on our custom glass services.