Which type of glass is best for your home?

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As part of a renovation or remodeling project, many people choose to install windows and doors. You can talk to your designer about the style and look that will go best in your new space. But while you’re discussing whether to go for a classic casement window, a code-required safety window or a customized ornamental door, don’t forget to think about the glass.

Glass can be both the most important and least obvious part of a window or door. The type of glass can help define the look of your space, contribute to energy savings and open your home to more sunlight. Before you and your expert home designer discuss your options, make sure you understand which types of glass there are and what each can offer you.

Energy-efficient glass
There are a variety of ways that glass can be produced to improve your home’s energy efficiency. The U.S. Department of Energy pointed to tints, gas-filled panes, insulated glass and coatings that can help your home retain its heat and affect the sunlight your house gets.

  • Gas-filled glass – Filled with inert gases like argon or krypton, these windows prevent heat from easily transferring through your window no matter the season.
  • Insulated glass – Similar to gas-filled glass, insulated glass combines multiple panes to trap air on the inside to insulate your home.
  • Tints and coatings – Windows coated or tinted, often with metals, can manipulate how much sunlight can get into your home by reflecting or filtering light. This can be done to heat your home in colder climates or prevent overheating in warmer climates, leading to lower cooling bills. Some tints can even absorb the sun’s heat to save for later.

Tempered glass 
Tempered glass is one of the strongest forms of glass. Not only does this help guarantee your investment in windows, but it can help protect your family from broken glass.

Tempered glass doesn't break into large shards when it cracks, but rather small pieces.
Tempered glass doesn’t break into large shards when it cracks, but rather small pieces.

This type of glass is defined by its manufacturing process. It’s a form of annealed glass that is cut then super-heated and rapidly cooled. This creates an even distribution of pressure throughout the glass, making it significantly stronger than standard panes. Even if it does break, it doesn’t shard. Instead, it shatters into small, safer pieces.

Tempered glass is about three or four times stronger than typical glass. It is typically used in spaces where it is required by building code, but talk to your designer about how it could help your home.

Sound-dampening glass 
If you live downtown, near train tracks or you can hear rush-hour traffic, talk to your designer about sound-restricting glass options. Optimal for noisy areas, these thick windows actually reflect the sound waves back out away from your home.

Security glass 
If you’re concerned with security in your home, talk to your designer about the safest glass options as well as ones that go with your overall security system. There are panes that are designed to set off alarms when they’re broken, while others are resistant to fires.

Tempered glass is one of the strongest glass options, but laminated glass can make it more difficult to break into your home. Lined with plastic on each side, laminated panes are difficult to break and even harder to get through.

Protect your privacy with obscure glass.
Protect your privacy with obscure glass.

Obscure glass 
If you’re more concerned with people peeping into your home than breaking in, consider obscure glass. Made with glazing, obscure glass can protect your view and your privacy at the same time. It’s optimal for bathroom windows and people who live on busy streets or next to nosy neighbors.

Decorative glass 
When it comes to specialty windows or doors, it’s not just about function – aesthetics matter too. Frosted, reed, rain and glue-chip glass are all great options that add to the look of your home. They can help you create a stylish entry way to your home or create a conversation piece in your kitchen.

Talk to your designer about special glass designs that may work for your space. Some specialty glass options may work best in nontraditional window shapes, such as in custom picture windows, octagonal windows or in certain front doors.

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