What to Know About the Different Types of Window Glass

For most homeowners, glass is glass—until they take a deep dive in selecting new windows for their home.  Suddenly, the world of glass becomes vast, and there’s definitely more than one.  Just like all of the different types of windows, there are just as many types of window glass that go along with them.

types of window glass

For your home, it becomes essential to know these types and how they can bring your room to life with their vastly unique characteristics.

Float Glass

Smooth and thin, float glass undergoes a unique process involving molten glass being poured over large, flat panels.  The molten glass is floated onto the molten tin, creating an unblemished surface known as float glass.  The sheet is cut, treated, and set into a frame, establishing a base for your window.

Float glass is cost-effective, yet durable, setting itself up as a quality option for glass doors, panels, and windows.

Frosted Window Glass

The obscured glass allows homeowners to enjoy the line between natural light and privacy.  Light trickles in, but the glass is frosted to the effect of obscurity, presenting the viewer with nothing more than shadows and figures on the other side.

frosted glass type of glass

Bathrooms, front doors, showers, and entryways are often suited with obscured, frosted glass for privacy, an excellent option that doesn’t sacrifice natural light.

Tinted Glass

Tinted glass refers to the coloring of the glass panels.  Whether the coloring is added for aesthetics, privacy, or heat reduction, this type of glass a popular choice on external windows, skylights, decorative panels, and in vehicles.

There’s also heat-absorbing tinted glass, which offers better control for heat radiance.  It works to reduce glare and absorbs solar heat, with some colors like bronze, green, or gray tints dramatically lowering heat transference by nearly 45%.

Annealed Glass for Windows

The process that annealed glass is meticulous and controlled.  A panel of float glass is cooled under a watchful eye with careful, tedious regulation.  The purpose of manipulating the heating and cooling of float glass is to strengthen it, reducing the stress that comes with the traditional style of rapid cooling.

While annealed glass may sound like a sound choice for a homeowner who wants windows with durability, it’s not.  When broken, annealed glass shatters in large, sharp shards, and should be avoided for a window glass choice.

Tempered Glass

If the annealed glass is strong, the process behind the creation of tempered glass quadruples this strength.  It can’t be cut, so the manufacturer must take the already cut and completed annealed glass and heat it to an unforgiving 1200 degrees, quickly cooling it to bake it again at 550 degrees.  Tempered glass isn’t common in windows for homes, but there’s a good chance you have it in your car to act as a safety feature.

Insulated Window Glass

Insulated glass units are the most effective invention in modern windows.  Gas is infused between two or three panes of glass, commonly argon sandwiched between laminated or tempered glass panels.

Replacement windows and newer windows often come with insulated, gas-filled glass units to help homeowners better regulate their home’s internal temperatures, prevent condensation, and actively save on energy expenditures.

Low-E Glass Enhances Windows

Low emissivity glass is manufactured with a specialized coating to reflect thermal radiation, called low-E coating.  The low-E coating shutters away infrared rays while still welcoming natural light into the home.  This isn’t just an advantage during the hotter months, although low-E glass is guaranteed to keep your home much cooler.

In the winter, indoor heat is kept inside, preventing it from escaping through your windows.

Laminated Glass

Safety laminated glass is a strong glass specifically enhanced for security and safety purposes.  The process involves fusing two panes with a core of polyvinyl butyral, PVB, by the use of intense heat and pressure fusion.  Workshops, labs, and other sites where heavy equipment is constantly in use tend to choose safety laminated glass as it stays in the frame even if its broken.  You won’t see this type of glass in homes as much, as it’s expensive and considered excessive for an average home.

There’s a Type of Window Glass for Every Situation

For home window units, you’ll see six common types of glass: insulated glass units, gas-filled units, heat-absorbing tints, low-E coatings, reflective coatings, and spectrally selective coatings.  All of these types of coatings and glass constructions are designed for homeowners to have better energy conservation, climate control, and regulation.  Costs between the options will vary, as each type of glass has a different approach to how they tackle sun and heat filtering, temperature control, and energy efficiency.

Some types of glasswork better for cars than they do for standard windows in homes, but it’s still important to know the difference.  Understanding the process that stands behind the heating and cooling of the various types of glass can help guide you in selecting the right one for your room, workshop, car, or specialized area.

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