From shining skyscrapers to residential neighborhoods, glass is a staple element in architecture and design. Glass has been used since ancient times because it fulfills both the practical requirements and desired look of consumers. Glass is both durable and functional while providing a unique beauty to any structure. 

Common Types of Glass Used for Home Windows

On the surface, a window just looks like every other window. Truthfully, there is a lot more to window glass than meets the eye. There are 6 main types of window glass. Each fulfills a unique purpose and has their own pros and cons.

1. Float Glass 

This is the precursor to all modern-day glass solutions. It is a basic sheet of glass. Float glass is not treated or upgraded. It is a low-cost, colorless glass and is usually the starting material for your window.

Types of Float Glass Available in the Market

  1. ESG float glass: This is simple float glass without safety treatment. When broken, it shatters into small, blunt crumbs. 
  2. VSG float glass: This float glass is laminated with a tear-resistant film placed in between several panes of ESG. When broken, the fragments do not fall to the ground, and the glazed opening remains closed offering increased protection. 
  3. TVG float glass: This glass is partially tempered, with increased bending strength and is the basis for laminated safety. 

Float Glass Pattern Design 

  • Clear Glass: Allows 90 percent of light from the sun into the room. Provides a clear view of objects and has a natural greenish hue.
  • Tinted Glass: Available in a variety of shades and allows less heat and light to be transmitted into the room. This type of glass saves energy by keeping your space cool.
  • Patterned Glass or Textured Glass: This is typically used for decorative purposes or for diffusing light and obstructing visibility. Patterned or textured glass is popular for bathroom windows or shower doors. 
  • Wired Glass: Wire inside of glass protects it from shattering under stress. It is generally used in fire escapes or government buildings.
  • Extra Clear Glass: Extra clear allows 97 percent of light through and has negligible color. It is completely transparent and is generally used for tabletops, showrooms, display boxes, etc.

Advantages of Float Glass 

  • Recyclability and Transparency: Clear float glass is 100% recyclable and non-toxic.
  • Eco-friendly and Durable: Float class is treated and cured in an oven to increase its durability. It’s about the same thickness as plate glass, but it is more substantial. 
  • Resistance to Temperature Changes: Float glass can withstand quick temperature changes of up to 40 Kelvin without shattering. 

Best Suited For: Float glass is best suited for small windows in residential housing, display cases and countertops in retail outlets, and some uses in electronics and technology.

2. Laminated Glass

Laminated glass is also known as safety glass because even if the glass is broken, it will stay in the frame, rather than shattering all over the floor. If safety and security is a top priority, laminated glass would be one of your best choices. 

Types of Laminated Glass 

  1. PVB Interlayer Laminated Glass: This is a commonly used glass in both architecture and automotive industries. It provides great insulation, transparency and UV resistance. However, it doesn’t do well in high humidity for a long period of time. 
  2. EVA Interlayer Laminated Glass: EVA has higher performance than other laminated glass materials. It has good water resistance, but less UV resistance. It tends to turn yellow with long-term sun exposure. 
  3. SGP interlayer Laminated Glass: With high strength, SGP is a high-performance interlayer with twice the load bearing capacity and 5 times the tear strength of PVB. 

Benefits Of Laminated Glass  

  • Increased security: Laminated glass is almost impossible to break. Even if it is broken, the glass doesn’t actually fall out of the frame, providing increased security.
  • Reduced emissions: Emissions are reduced by keeping UV rays out and reducing the heat gained from the sun.
  • Reduced noise pollution: The thickness of laminated glass causes noise waves to be disrupted helping to decrease outside noise pollution.
  • Increased safety: Because laminated glass doesn’t shatter, there is a significantly reduced risk of someone being cut or injured. 
  • Protection from natural disasters: Even in strong weather, laminated glass will stay in its frame, reducing the risk of accidents and injuries. 
  • More design choice: The process of creating laminated glass allows for more design choices in colors, tints, and tones. Laminated glass can also be curved for more versatility. 

Best Suited For: Situation Laminated glass is a strong glass that is best suited for buildings and homes, especially those in high-risk areas of strong weather or burglaries. It is also used in glass floors or stairs, skylights, glass roofs, and display cabinets for valuables.

3. Obscured Glass

Obscured glass is any type of glass that is partially or fully opaque. It is often referred to as privacy glass. Although it can be used anywhere, it’s often incorporated into residential homes where privacy is paramount. 

Types of Obscure Glass and Pattern Design 

  1. Frosted: This has a smooth, white appearance and is the most common type of obscure glass. 
  2. Patterned: If you want a more decorative look, patterned glass provides privacy and décor. 
  3. Bubble Effect: Bubble gives the effect of raindrops 
  4. Ribbed: A textured look through 3D vertical ribs gives this glass its unique look and a more modern or urban vibe. 
  5. Reflective Glass: This is traditional glass on one side and a metal coating on the other to act as a one-way mirror. This is often used for security and to keep the inside cool.
  6. Opaque Glass: This is completely solid glass that doesn’t allow any light in and cannot be seen through at all.It may be textured, smooth, painted, or laminated.

Advantages Of Obscure Glass 

  • Easy to Clean: Obscure glass only needs to be cleaned with a soft cloth. It doesn’t streak easily due to its textured or obscured surface. 
  • Allows in More Sunlight: Obscure glass will filter out unwanted UV rays while still allowing plenty of sunlight into your home.
  • Promotes Privacy: Frosted or obscure glass is the most popular choice for bathrooms, commercial spaces, and front doors to promote privacy. 
  • Energy Efficient: Obscure glass helps you maintain an ideal indoor temperature because of its effectiveness at disbursing sunlight through the glass.
  • Enhances Security: Increased durability, privacy, and impenetrability all add to the enhanced security of obscure glass
  • Improves the Living Space: In addition to functionality, frosted, textured, tinted, or obscure glass adds a touch of elegance and detail to your interior design. 

Best Suited For: Obscured class is a popular type of glass for bathroom windows, shower doors and entry door areas.

4. Tempered Glass

Tempered glass is extra strong glass that is both heated and cooled quickly during manufacturing to increase its durability. It is specifically designed to be stronger than other glass types and thus, is the most popular. Typically, tempered glass if four times stronger than normal glass. In addition, it is almost entirely heat resistant, and if it does break, it is designed to stay together. 

Types of Tempered Glass

  1. Toughened Glass: Chances are, this is what you have protecting your cell phone. It has very low visibility and is one of the toughest glass materials on the market. 
  2. Chromatic Glass: Chromatic, or photochromic glass will resist any type of light, and is commonly used in hospital or medical facilities. 

Advantages Of Tempered Glass

  • Safer: The strength of tempered glass means it’s less likely to break. If it does, it doesn’t form large and dangerous shards like ordinary glass would. 
  • Stronger: Tempered glass is treated by heat and chemicals to make it stronger than other glasses. It is typically four to five times stronger than ordinary glass.
  • Scratch and Damage Resistant: Tempered glass is significantly better at standing up to everyday wear and tear and stay flawless for longer. 
  • Heat Resistant: The thermal stability of tempered glass is twice what regular glass is. This means it can withstand high temperatures without cracking and make your room more energy efficient. 
  • Design Versatility: Because of its strength, tempered glass can be used in unique design applications including frameless structures. 
  • Pattern Options: You can achieve the same patterned, frosted, or decorative look using tempered glass. 
  • Clarity and Quality: Enjoy crystal clear clarity and outstanding results for doors, windows, cabinets, or display cases.
  • Sound Reduction: Because of its thickness and strength, it has twice the soundproofing abilities as ordinary glass.
  • UV Protection: Tempered glass absorbs approximately 65 percent of UV rays. This can be increased with a tinted finish. 
  • Impact Resistance: It is significantly more durable and less prone to break, which is why it is used in so many applications. 

Best Used For: Situation Tempered glass is best suited for windows, doors, furniture, and home appliances.

5. Insulated Glass

Insulated glass is many panes of glass sandwiched between spacer material and filled with colorless, odorless, and non-toxic gas to add extra barriers against heat and cold.

Types of Insulated Glass Windows

  1. Double Pane IGUs: This is two glass panes separated by a gas. This is the most common type of residential window. 
  2. Triple Pane IGUs: This is three glass panes separated by gas in between each pane. These are used for homes in colder climates. 

Types Of Window Glass Gas Filling

There are two main gases used to fill insulated window frames. Both of these gases are odorless, colorless, and non-toxic. They are completely safe to use for this application and are non-reactive. 

  • Argon gas is the most commonly used. It tends to be more effective than krypton and has earned its spot at the top of the market share. 
  • Krypton gas is still used because it takes up less space than argon, so if you’re worried about your windows being too deep, this is the way to go.

Advantages Of Insulated Glass Windows

  • Controlled Temperature: The heat from the sun first hits the external pane, then it has either two or three panes before it reaches your house. This reduces the quantity of heat that actually reaches the inside of your home. 
  • Less Noise: The air between the panels prevents noise from entering your house, making insulated glass windows great for busy and noisy areas. 
  • Conserved Energy: The increased insulation and controlled temperatures all conserve energy to save your utility bills and reduce the carbon footprint. 
  • Greater Cost-Effectiveness: Yes, insulated windows are more expensive but you will spend less on electricity each month as well. 
  • Ease of Maintenance: These windows are just as easy to maintain as single-pane windows, the interior panes don’t require any additional maintenance. 
  • Increased Security: It is virtually impossible to break an insulated window. 
  • More Versatility: Insulated windows can be used in fiberglass, wood, or vinyl frames. It can also be customized with tinted coatings and additional glass panels. 
  • Improved Property Value: The value of the insulated windows can increase the value of your property and be returned to you if you sell your home. 

Best Used For: Situation Insulated glass is best suited for exterior glass that’ll help you keep your heating and cooling costs down.

6. Low-E Glass

The “E” in Low-E glass stands for emissivity. Low-E glass is made from several different layers that work together to turn the glass into a filter to keep out heat, while letting the light shine through.  During the summer, heat is directed away from your house, and in the winter, your indoor heat is reflected back in the house and won’t escape through the windows. 

Types of Low-E Glass

  1. Passive Low-E coatings: A passive coating actually allows heat into the building strategically to avoid the use of a furnace. These types of windows are ideal for cold climates where you want more heat in the building to reduce HVAC costs.
  2. Solar control Low-E coatings: Solar coatings limit the amount of heat allowed into the building and they are used to keep buildings cooler. These types of windows are ideal for warmer climates or homes that receive a lot of direct sunlight. 

Advantages Of Low-E Glass

  • Reduce Energy Costs: The biggest benefits of Low-E glass is the reduction in your energy consumption and utility bills over time. 
  • Reduce Destructive UV Rays: Low-E glass also limits the damage caused by UV rays like fading fabrics and interior sun damage. 
  • Allows Natural Light: Despite their ability to filter out heat and rays, Low-E glass still allows plenty of natural light to penetrate your space. 

Best Used For: Situation Low-E Glass is best suited for windows in areas of particular heat or cold that are concerned about eliminating the heat (or cold) and UV rays from entering the home. 

FAQs About Window Glass

Generally speaking, tempered glass is the smartest choice for windows, glass furniture, and structure. It wins hands-down in both strength and durability against other glass options.  

Most designers and architects agree that blue is best suited against white color window frames. Blue tints also give slightly better UV rays protection.

The vast majority of residential windows use glass that is 3/32” thick. For larger windows, the glass may be thicker to assure adequate wind-load resistance.

Let the Glass Speak of Your Personality

Windows can make or break a home’s thermal performance and energy efficiency. The wrong glass can make your home sweltering in the summer and frigid in the winter. On the other hand, the right glass can help you make your windows work for you and keep your environment comfortable all year long. We offer many different glass styles with our replacement windows so you can get the perfect option for your home. If replacement windows are in your future, give us a call to help determine the best glass for your home.