Types of Window Glass Options Explained

Types of Window Glass Options Explained

When it comes to choosing windows, one important decision to make is what type of glass you want for your window panes. All types of window glass serve different purposes to give your windows the look, feel or energy efficiency you want. Knowing these types of window glass and their unique traits can go a long way toward making this decision for your home.

Different Types of Window Glass

Safety Glass

If safety and security are at the top of your list when it comes to your windows, exploring the safety glass options is imperative. The extra-strong, security-enhanced glass is created by fusing two panes (at minimum) to produce an extremely robust panel. Other than its strength, safety glass is also known for maintaining the same visibility as weaker glass options and breaks in a way that minimizes danger to people in a way that other glass options don’t.

The most common types of safety glass for windows are tempered glass and impact-resistant glass. There are also other options that are less likely to be used in residential applications.

  • Tempered Glass
  • Laminated Glass
  • Impact-Resistant Glass
  • Bullet-Resistant Glass

TEMPERED GLASS

Tempered glass is a toughened glass that is made through a sophisticated heating and cooling process. Tempered glass can be between ⅛” to ¾” thick and is significantly stronger than annealed glass. 

What’s annealed glass? - Annealed glass is regular unaltered glass. It can be extremely dangerous when it breaks. 

Tempered glass is required in:

  • Fixed or movable window glass is bigger than 9 square feet
  • Windows less than 18 inches above the floor
  • Windows when the top of the glass is less than 36 inches above the floor
  • The window is within 36 inches of where people walk

Tempered glass is also required in doors, bathrooms, and elsewhere. 

Learn More: What Are Tempered Glass Windows?

LAMINATED GLASS

Laminated glass is made by placing a layer of plastic, polyvinyl butyral (PVB) specifically, between two or more panes of glass. Laminated glass is more commonly found in homes near golf courses and homeowners often ask about it for noise reduction. Because of the cost associated with laminated glass, we typically recommend dissimilar glass for noise reduction.

Learn More: What Are Laminated Glass Windows?

IMPACT-RESISTANT GLASS

Impact-resistant glass is also commonly known as impact glass or hurricane glass. This is a type of laminated glass specially designed and tested to withstand hurricane-level winds and debris. Impact glass windows also have stronger frames to reduce the likelihood of the whole window being knocked out of pocket. 

Learn More: What Are High Impact Glass Windows?

BULLET-RESISTANT GLASS

Bullet-resistant glass is available in solid acrylic or laminated. Like laminated glass windows and impact-resistant glass windows, bullet-resistant windows are made with layers of glass and which are thicker than standard glass. Bullet-resistant glass, in particular, is much thicker than other types of glass because it is designed to absorb the energy of the bullet to prevent it from passing through the glass or from reflecting the bullet. 

Decorative Glass

One of the more aesthetically pleasing window glass options is decorative glass. Sometimes classified as glass art, decorative glass uses the glass in a variety of unique shapes and sizes that become very customizable based on your window. When you want a window that is specifically tailored to your wants, needs or decorating taste, the decorative glass will give you the best option for creativity. This is why it’s commonly used in restaurants, homes, and hotels.

Decorative glass refers to both patterned or privacy glass as well as art glass:

  • Acid Etched Glass
  • Stained Glass 
  • Bent/Curved Glass
  • Cast Glass
  • Etched Glass
  • Frosted Glass
  • Textured Glass
  • V-Groove Glass

Performance Glass

Historically windows have been used for daylighting and ventilation. As we’ve become more conscious about energy spend we’ve learned that windows are a major source of unwanted heat loss and gain. Windows can also cause unwanted glares, fading, and condensation. Performance glass and modern glazing systems reduce energy consumption, have lower heat loss, less air leakage, and warmer surfaces that minimize condensation. 

High-Performance Glass Feature:

  • Double or triple glazing
  • Specialized transparent coatings
  • Insulated gas sandwiched between panes
  • Improved frames

Learn More: Windows and Glazing - Whole Building Design Guide, a program of the National Institute of Building Sciences

Dissimilar Glass

When sound transmission is a major concern for homeowners, dissimilar glass is the best option. Window units with dissimilar glass packages can be a cost-effective alternative to laminated glass or triple-pane glass. This is because they are designed specifically to reduce sound transmission. Dissimilar glass is made with glass panes of different thickness, which work together to reduce the sound. 

Learn More: What is Dissimilar Glass?

How to Choose the Best Window Glass

Choosing the best window glass has a lot to do with what your goals are for your windows. For instance, if you were deciding between the different types of windows mentioned above, you would purchase glass options based on your needs. Safety glass for added security, decorative glass for a more artistic look, performance windows that offer many added features and dissimilar glass to reduce sound transmission. Ultimately, knowing what you want out of a window is what’s going to help you choose the best window glass.

Is Thicker Glass Better in Residential Windows?

While thicker glass can be used in residential windows, ‘the thicker the better’ isn’t always a rule to follow. Thicker glass comes with a higher price-tag that may not be worth the added expense.

Windows for your home should have: 

  • High-performance glass for energy-efficiency
  • Tempered glass where required
  • Impact-glass if your home is a hurricane zone

Any other glass options are a significant upgrade and typically only recommended for particular noise or safety concerns. 

There are many different types of window glass options, all of which serve unique purposes depending on your window needs. While some of the names of window glass options seem self-explanatory, it’s important to know what your window glass options are and what these glass options can do for your windows. Several of the window brands Brennan carries offer all the options you could want to help you make the best decision possible, regardless of your window size and material.