Helpful Glass Tips For Homeowners

What is low-e glass and why do I want it? Low-e is a metallic based coating that is sprayed on the glass and is installed in thermal (double or insulated) pane windows. During the insulated glass manufacturing process, the low-e side is placed between the two panes of glass – protecting it from scratches and moisture. The coating reflects heat (keeping your home cooler in the summer) and UV rays (helping to slow the fading process on your flooring and furniture). Adding low-e to your windows will help maintain your property appearance and value, and keep your home a comfortable temperature.

Tempered safety glass
Tempered safety glass, or just tempered glass, is used where broken glass is potentially more likely. Building codes specify where safety glass is required. Areas such as: on or around doors, larger glass low to the ground near walkways or stairs, glass near tubs or showers. Tempered glass has been through a heat tempering process making it very hard and, therefore, more difficult to break. When broken it will shatter into small pieces that minimize cuts. Because it has gone through extra processes, tempered glass is more expensive than annealed, or “regular” glass.

Decorative glass
Decorative, or patterned, glass has two primary functions: decoration and concealment. When used for decorative purposes, patterned glass can help create a desired look and feel. For instance, creating a more elegant entrance in a front door or setting a mood when used as a partition between booths in a restaurant. Patterned glass also diffuses light and color making it ideal for areas where light is important in a room but viewing is not desired; restrooms or conference rooms are good examples.

Shower glass support
The design phase of building a shower is the best time to begin thinking about the glass that will be used to enclose it. If a frameless glass enclosure is in the design there are a few things that need to be considered – high on the list is structure to support the door. Frameless glass shower enclosures are typically made with 3/8″ thick tempered glass – sometimes called heavy glass. It’s very common for these doors to weigh 60 – 90 pounds so it’s important to have 2 X 4s behind the tile for the door hinges to screw in to – preferably enough 2 X 4s screwed together (3 is usually enough) to match the width of the door threshold below. Adding structure when the shower wall is open is very inexpensive and easy to do. Having no structure, or not enough in the right places, does not mean that a frameless shower is out of the question but it does limit the options your glass company has to offer.

Horizontal level
Many craftsman take pride in making sure there work is level, plumb, and square. However, when it comes to shower door thresholds, knee walls and benches, perfectly level is not desirable. Every surface in a shower should direct water to the drain to avoid standing water. All horizontal surfaces should have a 2 – 3 degree slope toward the drain to avoid leaks or standing water that will encourage mildew growth.

Out-of-square walls
In a perfect world all walls and floors would be level, plumb, and square but that just isn’t the case. Natural materials like wood can warp and bend over time causing walls to be out of plumb. These existing out-of-square conditions can create widening gaps against straight glass panels if not accounted for. A competent glass company will measure the out-of-square conditions and order the glass accordingly for a snug fit.