Photo By Dmytro Skrypnykov at istock

Did you know there was more than one kind of glass? Not all glass is created the same and each has its own special usages and advantages as well as disadvantages because everything does. When you’re looking for new home windows you should be informed on the types of glass that is available to you.

Actual Glass Types

We’ll start with what glass is made out of. The main raw materials that are used in glass manufacturing are sand, soda ash, and limestone. These are melted together at different ratios and at extremely high ratios to form molten glass. If you have older homes that haven’t had the home windows replaced from before 1969 you may have what’s called “crystal glass” which is made of 36% lead, and after that it was reduced to 24% for this material. If your home is in the Government Hill neighborhood of San Antonio, TX and from when the neighborhood started you might have some of this in your home still.Standard windows are made of a material that is called “float glass”. Float glass is standard fragile glass that is poured into a mold which allows it to be formed into large glass panels. Your windows that are lower cost or for large windows will likely be made of this float glass and can’t be used without framing because pressure from a house settling would shatter it.The other kind of glass used for home windows is more decorative by nature, and it is called obscured glass. Obscure glass is glass that has designs or shapes in it like etching or beveled panes and make it virtually impossible to see through. Light will still come through the glass, you will be able to see shadows through the window, but those outside won’t be able to see the inside of your home. This application is perfect for bathrooms where you want privacy or if your house is extremely close to a sidewalk or a neighbors home as those passing by won’t be able to see but will give you light into the rooms. This next kind of glass is standard not on your home windows but is in your car, especially your windshield. This is laminated glass. Laminated gas is created when you put two pieces of float glass together and adhere them with a thick level of something called polyvinyl butyral, or PVB, which adheres them together like glue that is transparent. Laminated glass in household windows is used to increase strength of the glass, preventing them from shattering. If you’ve heard about “hurricane” windows this laminated glass is what they are using.With your home windows there may be building codes that require glass to be something called tempering. This glass will break into smaller and less dangerous pieces than standard float glass. The panes of glass go through additional steps in the annealing process. Annealing is the process of slowing the cooling process of the glass to increase the strength and decrease internal stresses. They then do tempering by putting it into a high temperature oven, but not high enough to melt the glass again. That hot gas is then “quenched” by applying high pressure cold air at various angles to the glass to cool the external surfaces before the interior. Alternatively the glass manufacturers could also go through a chemical compound after coming out of the tempering oven.

Improvements To Windows Using Glass 

If you need your home windows to be insulated you’re able to get that as well. Insulated glass is used in double and triple pane windows. The glass is set in the frame and separated by a space bar and then has a gas inserted between the sealed panes to create a sealed area between the glass. The gases used in this application are argon, krypton, and xenon. Each of them have their own advantages and disadvantages, ask your home window contractor for what will be used. This insulation increases the U-factor and solar heat gain coefficient. This also means in the summer the interior pane of the window would be much cooler.

A different way to use glass to improve efficiency and give you other improvements is by making your home windows low-e. Low-e stands for low emissivity which is designed to block specific waves of light from the sun. Specifically they focus on ultraviolet waves from going through the glass. These ultraviolet rays can cause skin damage line sunburn and can fade materials like clothing and furniture or even paint. Conversely in the winter low-e glass can keep heat in the house, although this is not a normal thing this far south. You can also purchase kits for your existing home windows to be installed professionally to give you many of the benefits of new low-e windows without having to tear out your current windows. These kits will block a good portion of the ultraviolet rays but again not as well as brand new windows. These work best on southern facing windows because of the direct sunlight they receive.

We were talking about privacy earlier with the obscure glass but you can also have your windows tinted if you want to go that route. Tinting windows much like in a car will block some of the ultraviolet rays from coming into your house while also slightly or significantly, depending on the amount of tinting done, obscuring the view from the outside. Tinting your home glass however will mean likely doing it after purchase and before installation.When you’re ready to look for new home windows in the San Antonio, TX area consider First Place Windows. First Place windows offers free consultations and quotes and specializes in window replacement and improves energy efficiency in the process. First Place Windows also can work doing siding on your house, patio covers, sunroom additions, and more. First Place Windows lets you choose from five different window manufacturers when you’re ready to make your choice.