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The Versatility of Glass: Why Glass Is Not “Just Glass”

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Most people think all glass is the same. But it’s not. There are literally hundreds of thousands of types of glass, all with unique qualities and performance characteristics. By incorporating different elements into glass, you can create a myriad of items.

  • Mirrors: Add a silver backing to glass and you have created a mirror.
  • Tempered Glass: Heat and then cool glass very quickly in a special oven and you have made tempered glass.
  • Insulating Glass: If you seal two pieces of glass with a space between them (filled with air or inert gases), you have created insulating glass.
  • Windshield: Your windshield is really a “glass sandwich” called laminated glass, made of two pieces of float glass with a plastic interlayer in between them.

Decorative, dichromic, high-performance, insulating, mirror, reflective, low-emissivity…there is no limit to the types of glass from which to choose. So how do you know the right type of glass to use for your project? Let’s see.


How To Choose The Right Glass For Your Project


Consider the climate that you live in. Is it important to have excellent insulation for those blazing hot summers or freezing winters? Double pane windows are standard, but triple glazed windows provide greater efficiency. Upfront costs are higher, but savings on energy costs can be considerable.

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Front Door Glass Inserts:

The front door to your home can make or break its curb appeal. When picking out the perfect entry, first consider your home’s design and determine what style of door would best compliment the exterior. This includes determining what portion of the door will be glass and what portion will be wood or vinyl. Some entry doors are made nearly entirely of glass with only a small border around the outside, while others utilize a handful of small glass accent panes in an otherwise solid door.

Next, comes the design of the glass itself. Clear? Frosted? Textured? These are just a few of the options. A popular feature is grooved metal barring that holds the glass in place, called “caming, which can create unique designs.

Now that you know what to look for, visit your local door dealer to browse options and pick out that door that sets your house apart from the rest.

Patio Doors:

Patio doors serve as a connection between your inside living space and the outdoors. To bring the outside in, consider which style of door will allow you to have the largest opening while maintaining functionality. Popular options include sliding, swinging, French, and folding. Taller and wider doors will help to create an extension of your living space.

Materials play a big part in finding the best patio doors. Because the majority of the door is glass, you may want to consider energy efficient options such as low-e glass or internal blinds. Durability is an important factor too since this door is exposed to the elements. Framing made from vinyl, fiberglass, or aluminum will likely weather better than wood.


Furniture doesn’t have to be made out of wood—glass acts as an excellent way to diversify the materials used in your home’s décor. The cool hard surface of glass creates a modern look when paired with metal framing, or an air of sophistication when blended with the warmth of wood. It makes for an excellent table top and can be tinted or frosted to suit the colors and feel of the space. Glass tops can be cut in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, and the edges can even be finished in different ways for a unique look.

Shower Doors:

Glass shower doors can be a simple way to at a touch of elegance to your bathroom and make the space feel bigger. There are many options to consider when upgrading your current bathroom, or replacing existing glass.


Framed glass panels are economical because they use thinner glass, with the frame as support, and come in a variety of finishes to match your bath’s current hardware. Frameless shower doors have a sleek look but cost more due to being thicker, which creates their structural integrity.


Depending on the size of your bathroom and shower, you may want to consider more than just your standard hinge. A pivot hinge lets the shower door open 180 degrees- 90 to the inside of the shower, and 90 to the outside of the shower. For a truly unique look, there is even a center mount pivot which would let the door rotate a full 360 degrees (think revolving door). But if space is an issue, a great look can still be achieved with a sliding (bypass) system.


Square enclosures are standard and have a bold look, but to utilize your space more effectively, consider a corner shower with a rounded front.


Your shower enclosure also plays a role in how much steam stays trapped inside the shower. For an extra steamy shower, choose a tall enclosure that will help keep the air trapped inside. Some systems even have vents that can be opened or closed.


Your design tastes and privacy preferences will play an important role when choosing which glass is right for your shower enclosure. The tempered glass used in showers can be clear, tinted, etched with design, or frosted to your desired opaqueness.


Every business with foot or drive-by traffic knows the importance of having an appealing storefront, which can make or break the amount of business a company receives. The storefront acts as a way for passersby to preview the business- whether it be a product, service, or place to dine- it creates an invitation to come inside to sample the business’ offerings.

One way to do this is with a glass storefront. Glass offers many features that allow for both an effective and efficient frontage. However, there are some factors that should be considered such as:

Energy: Large storefronts are bound to feel the effects of temperature changes– warm or cold. Therefore, it is important to choose the right glass for your store’s climate. For extra insulation, try low-e, gas filled double or triple pane windows.

For extra protection against the sun, or added privacy, frosted windows, or aftermarket tint applied to the windows, can help cut down on the transparency. This is especially important when dealing with storefronts that include items that may fade, melt, or spoil in direct sun.

Security: Storefronts are always subject to risks such as theft, damage from severe weather, or vandalism like graffiti. Having the right materials in place can greatly reduce the effects or downtime from these. First, tempered glass is very important because it shatters into rounded pieces, rather than shards with edges. This will reduce the risk of injury, and make cleanup easier.

Another option is the safety of security glass which is designed to withstand impact. Adding a layer of window film can also be another excellent way to add structural integrity, or make graffiti removal easier.

Contact your local commercial glass specialist so they can help determine the best options to best suit the needs of your business.

Custom Projects:

Custom projects, like commercial office buildings, multifamily housing developments, or other large scale construction work involving the building envelope and curtainwall industry takes a specialist. We have the industry connections you need to bring your architectural designs to fruition.

Contact today for additional information on our custom glass services.

Please note, this article may contain links to Amazon products. As an Amazon Associate, earns from qualifying purchases.



Debra Levy

Debra Levy owns Key Media & Research (KMR), to which Inc. is a sister company. KRM produces industry publications such as USGlass magazine, Door & Window Market magazine, Architect’s Guide to Glass magazine, AGRR Magazine, Auto Glass Journal and Window Film Magazine. Additionally, it produces email newsletters, hosts industry trade show events, and publishes industry research studies. Levy obtained a Masters in Science from Southern New Hampshire University with a focus in Community Economics. She sits on a number of industry committee boards for glass safety standards. Additionally, Levy often writes and speaks for industry outlets. Find out more about Debra on Linkedin.

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5 Responses

  1. I need a quote on two pieces of glass 20inches +30 3/4 inches for a coffee table. Prices for a light brown colour bevelled and not bevelled . Lowest price please .

    1. Hi Randall, Thanks for your inquiry! We have forwarded it to a local shop in your area who should be reaching out to you today.

  2. Please, I will appreciate your guidance and advice. We just had a custom door built, and used laminated, insulated glass panels. The glass panels were made with an ugly metal “edge” all the way around, and where each panel was cut in (to fit the custom shape of the door) there is a gap in the metal edge, so that these corners appear uncompleted. The door was installed three days ago, and this morning we discovered a large crack in one glass panel, which appears to have started at one of these uncompleted corners. We are unhappy with the look of the metal edges, and the uncompleted corners are terribly unsightly. Obviously one of the glass panels has failed already. Are we to believe our door cannot be made with laminated insulated glass panels?

    1. Hi Kathleen,

      I can appreciate your frustration in this situation where the project is not coming together as envisioned. Your best course of action will likely be to contact the company that built the door and work with them to make things right. Without knowing the dimensions of the project it is hard to say what caused the crack or what type of glass should be used, but laminated glass is generally a good option.

  3. It is good that you shared with us the popular feature of the front door glass today known as ‘caming’ a grooved metal barring that is holding the glass in place and can create rare designs. Since my mother has a plan to remodel the bathroom that will be a good stuff to add to the shower room she has in mind. We are already looking for all the shower stuff we need for that bathroom renovation.

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