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Guide To Home Window Glasses

On this page:
  • Understanding window glasses
  • Average cost of window glasses
  • Factors to consider when choosing glass type

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The Ultimate Homeowner’s Window Glasses Guide

When referring to a window, we think about frames and glass panes, as these are the components that we first see. Just like when purchasing window frames, you will consider their material, durability, weather resistance and finish, there are a number of factors that impact the appearance and utility of window glasses too. Some of these include:

  • Insulation
  • Energy efficiency
  • Impact resistance
  • Safety
  • Privacy
  • Noise reduction
  • Design

When it’s time to get a window glass replacement for one or more of the windows in your home, there are many points to ponder, including the type of window glass or glazing you will need. Read this guide to window glasses to understand how these factors contribute to window performance and choose the best window glass for your needs.

What is Window Glazing?

Window glazing is a term used to describe the number of glass panes used in a window. There are single, double or triple panes for windows. The panes are aligned parallel to each other and glazed or sealed using a putty with space in between. The putty helps placing the glass panes on the window frame and hold the structure together. 

Window glazing and insulated glass - Modernize

The space between two panes is referred to as an Insulated Gas Unit or IGU when it is filled with either air or gas. The two panes of glass and the gas inside form an insulating barrier that helps keep heat and cold from passing through, thus keeping a home more comfortable.

Another process of insulation involves coating glass panes with a microscopic metal layer to increase efficiency, as well as protect the inside of your home from UV rays. This is called Low-E coating.

Costs for Replacement Window Glass

Many factors impact  the cost of a window glass replacement, including the size of the window, the style of the window (for instance, an arched window will cost more than a standard rectangular one will), and the material used for the window frame (such as vinyl versus wood). However, the panes matter as well. As a general rule of thumb, expect to pay the following for number of panes:

  • Single pane: $50 – $200
  • Double pane: $200 – $600
  • Triple pane: $550 – 850

Double pane windows are the most common energy efficient window types used by both residential and commercial units across the country. While triple pane windows provide better insulation, their cost of installation and repair can be quite expensive.

window glazing - types of window glass - Modernize

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Factors to Consider When Purchasing Window Glasses

Energy Efficient and Insulated Glass

The US Department of Energy reports that up to 30% of all heating and cooling costs for a home escape through the windows. That’s a very good reason to do all you can to use insulated windows glasses that are energy-efficient, so you can reduce your energy and utility costs.

Insulated windows can impact the overall energy consumption of your home by minimizing the use of air conditioning and heating systems. Furthermore, the low-e glass coatings can reduce UV rays coming through and protect damage to your home’s furniture as well. The thin low-E coating is made with metal oxide and can’t be seen with the naked eye, so you don’t lose a bit of the view. This adds anywhere from $35 to $40 for the whole window.

Impact Performance and Safety Glass

Impact resistant and safety window glass  are used to protect you from residential and commercial break-ins or uncertain weather conditions. Laminated and tempered glasses are two such glass types which are treated to meet the requirement. These glasses are four times stronger than untreated glass.

Laminated glass is made by bonding two panes with a layer of Poly Vinyl Butyral or PVB under heat and pressure, while tempered glass is made by chemically treating and heating the glass under high pressure. If safety is an issue, such as in an area with high winds, tempered glass is the way to go. Expect costs to reach between $8 and $20 per square foot per pane. Laminated glass can be more expensive. It is recommended that you contact your window installer to check local pricing.

impact safety glass - types of window glass - Modernize

Privacy Glass

Textured or translucent glass is installed in windows as privacy glass to obstruct the clear view through them. Tinted, frosted, and obscure glass are the types of privacy glasses that come in a variety of shades and finishes. The panes are etched or otherwise textured to obscure the view but still allow the light to flow through. They can also be installed to reduce light glare and or as an interior design choice.

privacy glass - types of window glass - Modernize

Expect privacy glass to range in price from $200 to $800 per window, depending upon the size and the type of frosting.

You can also look to install Smart Glass Windows as an alternative to textured glass. The smart or switchable glass can change the transparency of the glass panes when activated with electrical charge or heat.

Noise Reduction Glass

If you live in an area with a lot of noise, such as in a townhouse in a busy city center, you might want to opt for windows that reduce the noise as much as possible. A triple-glazed unit is the best route to go for noise reduction along with acoustic glazing. Acoustic glass uses lamination and is thicker than the normal glass panes which can absorb sound and vibration. Add about $30 per square foot for windows like this.

Window Glass Alternatives

If you live in an area with extreme weather conditions, you may need something other than glass for added support. Glass alternatives, also known as thermoplastics, are much thicker than glass and ten times stronger. They are often shatter-proof and storm-resistant. This type of glass can run between $7 and $40 per square foot per pane.

Window Glass Ratings

Window ratings act as identifiers of the quality, performance and strength of window units. There are five major factors listed below that account for glass ratings established by energy and manufacturing standard authorities like NFRC Label, AAMA and WDMA. You can read about them in detail and understand the different window glass rating standards here

NFRC Label for Window Ratings
FactorWhat does it mean?Range listedWhat is a good score?
U-FactorIt measures how well a product insulates a home, preventing heat from escaping.2-1.20The lower the grade, the better the product is at keeping heat inside
Visible TransmittanceIt measures the amount of light passing through a window and into a home0-1The higher the number, the more natural light will come into your home
Condensation ResistanceIt measures to what extent a window will resist forming condensation on the inside1-100The higher the number, the more resistance the window has
Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC)It measures how well a product resists undesired solar gain0-1The lower the grade, the less undesired heat gain in a house
Air LeakageIt measures how much air from outside will leak into a room≤ 0.3The lower the number, the less drafty

Window glass goes through rigorous testing for everything on the label, as well as things that don’t make it onto the label, such as storm resistance or resistance to breakage. 

Unique Window Glass Designs

When it comes to creating art, glass is one of the most versatile materials in the world. That means your home windows can be works of art in and of themselves. The designs for window glass are endless – simply look at any beautiful church with soaring stained glass windows and you will get the picture of what glass can do.

stained glass design - window glasses guide - Modernize

But it’s important to balance that aesthetically-pleasing look with something that provides true energy-efficiency. Though some specialty glass is available with etching and other markings that still hold onto the energy-efficient needs, you might want something that skews more toward art. If that’s the case, speak to the artist and contractor about how to make the window unit more energy-efficient while maintaining the beauty you desire. 

Window Glass Repair and Replacement

In some cases, you can have window glass repaired. This is most often true with single pane windows, where simply replacing the glass can be easily done by a handy homeowner. But in many cases, damage to double-pane glass means the loss of the inert gas between the panes, which can lead to condensation inside and other problems. The result is almost always a recommendation to simply replace the window glass or the window itself rather than repairing the window glass.

When that day comes, Modernize is there to help. We can connect you with the best window contractors in your area who can help you decide which windows are best for your home and climate, which window brands offer the best warranties and perks, and what you need to know about energy-efficiency to keep your home as comfortable as possible.