Choosing Window Glass Types
When it’s time to choose windows for a new build, home remodel, or window replacement project, the variety of window glass types can seem mind-boggling. You know you want energy-efficiency and clarity of view, but what else do you want to see in your home? Remember, this window glass design is something you’ll be looking at for years to come, so it needs to suit your style. Let’s look at the variety of options for window glass types.
Glass Types for Strength and Efficiency
Types of window glass can matter just as much as the choice of single-pane, double-pane, or triple-pane windows when it comes to energy efficiency and strength. Here’s a primer on the window glass types you’ll encounter.
This is a very simple glass, the kind that you typically see in older, single-pane windows. It is a low cost option and does not offer features beyond being easy to clean. Though it can provide excellent clarity, it can be quite dangerous if it breaks, as it can turn into shards.
These windows are made up of two or three layers (or panes) of glass, which prevents heat transfer through the glasses. The more layers of glass, the more heat has to pass through. Those with three panes of glass are more insulating than those with two. They are made with tight seals around the glass. The downside is that if the seal fails, you may wind up with condensation between the panes, obscuring the view. To overcome this, insulated glasses can be modified to gas-filled and low-e coated. Both of these offer unique features and utility mentioned below:
These are insulated windows that use argon or krypton gas in the spaces between the panes, thus helping to control heat transfer even further. The gas is denser than the air around the window, and that contributes to blocking the heat. Double-pane is great, but triple-pane is even better. Look for those with a no-leak guarantee, as a failed seal means condensation eventually forms.
This energy-efficient glass is made with a coating thinner than a human hair. This coating is enough to reflect the heat of a room back into itself rather than allowing it to flow outdoors. Available in hard or soft coatings, Low-E glass is known for reducing energy costs by up to 35 percent.
The significant strength of your car’s windshield is due to laminated glass. This kind of glass in a home window can provide exceptional durability and safety, since the glass will not shatter into shards if broken. The UV protection helps avoid fading of furniture and fabrics. It’s also a great option for noise reduction, as the thickness helps promote quiet in the home.
Tempered glass is much stronger than other types of glass, which is why it is so common for use in home skylights. The biggest advantage is the fact that tempered glass doesn’t break into shards. It breaks in small chunks that carry a much lower risk of injury. Even with the superior strength, it still provides exceptional clarity for an unobstructed view.
This unique type of glass has wires embedded in it. It is commonly found in schools, hospitals, prisons, and commercial buildings where resistance to breakage and fire matter a great deal. It might also be found in some homes, especially in glass entry doors where security is a concern. Wired glass can be installed as either clear or patterned glass.
Strengthened glass, sometimes called standard glass, has been thermally treated to a high degree of temperature, then cooled very slowly to relieve the internal stress on the glass unit to create annealed glass. Though it’s called strengthened glass, it can still be quite hazardous if broken, for it leads to long shards with razor-sharp edges. However, the cost can be lower than that of other glasses which can be appealing for homeowners.
Acrylic glass isn’t actually a glass material, but rather, it’s a form of plexiglass, perspex, or other types of plastic that look like glass. This glass has improved in recent years and now is entirely clear with good insulating properties. It is commonly found in skylights and in windows installed in areas with severe weather, such as coastal properties.
Glass Design for Privacy and Appearance
When both appearance and privacy matter to you with your new windows, these options for window glass types can help you have the best of both worlds.
Coated or tinted glass is created with the addition of metal oxides. This can create an aesthetically pleasing look that tints the view out the window into shades of bronze, green, blue, or gray. Other colors might be available as a custom tint. It can add some privacy to the home. If the tint is dark enough, it can create some visual appeal for those looking at the home from a distance. As a bonus, some tints double as protection against heat transfer.
Also known as patterned glass, this type of glass has a unique shape on one side. This distorts the view and makes it more difficult for those outside the home to see what’s on the other side. Those looking out, however, will see what appears to be a completely normal window. Often called “translucent” glass, the flow of light through the distorted glass creates a delightful glow.
This type of window glass is exactly what it sounds like: after the window is manufactured, small cuts are etched throughout the glass, creating visual interest and a frosted coat that can enhance privacy. This can be done in the factory, or you can have your windows etched after they are manufactured for a more custom creation.
Once a staple of soaring churches, stained glass windows were a novelty in the residential home. They were often used as accent pieces. Today, stained glass windows are becoming more common as homeowners look for ways to express themselves through their home décor and design. Stained glass is also great for privacy, as it is usually tough to see through, tends to be rather sturdy thanks to all the woven metal within, but might be quite difficult to repair if broken.
Glazing for Noise Reduction
Glazing refers to sealing two or more window panes together with a putty or similar material where the glass meets the border of the seal. This is common in double-pane or triple-pane windows, where the seal makes an enormous difference in the energy efficiency.
By holding the air or gas inside between the panes, the glazing helps with reduction of heat transfer, as well as reduction of noise coming through the window. It is a maintenance procedure that can extend the life of your windows while sealing up the tiniest cracks through which sound can flow. This treatment can be applied to any modern window in the hopes of reducing noise, which can be especially important in urban areas.
Unique Window Glass Types
There was a time when stained glass windows made their way from churches to the modern home, usually as accent pieces. Today, that unique artistic expression has morphed into a wide variety of other window types that add unique style to your abode.
While it’s not the most common choice for the home, mirrored glass can provide wonderful security and privacy. Mirrored glass does have a slight tint that you can notice from the inside, so the view won’t be as crisp as that of clear glass. On the other hand, the energy efficiency gets a boost, as mirrored glass reflects some sunlight away from the home. At night, when the lights are on and the interior is brighter than the exterior, the mirrored effect vanishes – so, you will still need curtains or blinds for privacy.
Glass block windows are excellent for privacy, which is why they are often found in bathrooms, especially as shower surrounds. They allow the light to flow through and create a lovely glow, but looking through the glass reveals nothing more than shadows. Glass blocks windows are great for security, as they are extremely difficult to break. Some offer small ventilation blocks within the larger wall of glass.
LED Glass Panels
If you are looking to add a little style to your home, LED glass panels are like a newer version of stained glass windows. They can create true works of art with a variety of colors and designs. These glass panels can be inserted into a typical space for a window or used as curtain glass.
This is glass that creates a wall in your home, one that is especially popular in areas with majestic natural views. Curtain glass, however, can deal a wicked blow to your utility bills. To make the curtain glass more energy-efficient, consider using thermally broken aluminum framing, thermal spacers between the glass panes, and low-E glass. It is also a good idea to consider south-facing window walls for those homes that need much more heating during the winter, and to look into awning windows and overhangs to lower the indoor temperatures in the summer.
Smart glass is becoming more popular as homeowners learn the magical things it can do. This might include privacy glass that turns translucent as the sunlight hits it, solar glass that allows the low-E quality can be turned on or off, and even windows that go opaque in an instant, with the touch of a button. Some smart windows can adjust their own tint depending upon the temperature and even how many people are in the room at any given time.
Keep in mind that while this is a rather comprehensive list, there are constantly emerging trends and new ideas for windows and glass that are popping up in homes all over the world. Take a look at your window needs, your budget, and what looks best for your style of home. Then, start your journey to finding the window glass that is right for you.