Glass Options For Front Door Units – Properties and Variety

Using Glass in Your Entry

While a solid wood door offers many advantages, including aesthetic appeal, privacy, and energy efficiency, the use of glass in an entry unit also offers many advantages. Most obvious among them is to enhance the look of your door unit and to allow light to shine through.

There is a myriad of choice for glass. Many customers, over the years have opted for simple clear tempered glass. This is merely the standard single sheet of glass which allows for the maximum amount of light to shine through and has the advantage of being the least costly option. Tempered glass is manufactured by sending the glass through a set of rollers into an oven that is often heated up to 720 Celsius. It is then rapidly cooled and results in a product that is stronger and when broken shatters into many small pieces. This effect is necessary for safety reasons. Virtually all modern building codes require the use of tempered glass if it is above a certain size. Typical thickness availability for this type glass is 1/8 inch, 3/16 inch, and 1/4 inch.

Tinted tempered glass is similar to clear tempered, differing only that as its name suggests, it has a distinctive tint to it. Commonly seen are amber, grey, blue, and green tints.

Low E, or low emissivity glass is a special type of tempered glass that takes into consideration the reflection of radiant infrared energy. This glass is coated on one or more surfaces with a special material often composed of a metallic oxide compound. It keeps radiant heat on the same side as the glass but allows light from the visible spectrum to pass through. Thus it is more energy efficient. Low E glass is produced to result in various “r values”, an expressed ratio measuring the efficiency of insulation.

Beveled glass is also a tempered glass product when used as glass panes. Having an edge (not perpendicular) that has been ground into a bevel, this type of glass has the same strength advantage as clear tempered glass but the additional advantage of having a “little sparkle” adding interest to your door unit. A typical size beveled edge is 1 1/4 inches for the most common application. Bevels are often found in “true divided light” or “french style doors.”

Textured glass is another category of tempered glass. It is produced with a pattern or surface texture. It is equally as strong as clear tempered glass, but it also affords some privacy depending on the texture. If you have a shower door in your home it is quite likely to be some form of tempered textured glass. Some common textures are rain, spraylite, glue chip, and glacier.

It is common (and recommended) for tempered glass to be found in an insulated configuration. Normally two pieces of tempered glass are washed to be optically clear. An adhesive sealant is applied to a spacer and the glass pressed against the spacers. A dessicant material is also used between the panes to remove any trace of humidity. Some manufacturers have developed specific processes that combine the spacer and desiccant material. While air is normally trapped between the two pieces of glass, an inert gas such as argon may be used to increase the “r value” of the unit. Insulated glass units have been in use since the 1930s and provide better insulation properties than just a single piece of clear tempered. While not often considered, insulated glass units also provide acoustic insulation, helpful to a home owner who lives near an airport, or busy street. Low E, bevels, and textured glass may also be used in the creation of an insulated unit. glass sealed unit

Hurricane impact glass is an extra strong (and thick) glass product that has been produced to meet building codes found in such places as Miami-Dade County, Florida. Two sheets of glass usually 1/4 inch thick are laminated together to produce a glass that will on impact allow for the broken pieces to adhere to the plastic vinyl laminate layer. Hurricane glass can be produced with low E and tinted glass.

Art glass is another category. In general it is not available as a tempered product and is used in the manufacture of leaded glass door inserts and windows. Art glass has been produced since ancient times and has typically been made by introducing various metal oxides into molten glass resulting in a colored or “stained” glass. Of course not all art glass is “stained glass”. Much of it is clear with varying textures. A glass artisan must hand cut each individual piece of glass to shape. Then these pieces are put together, again by hand, using a caming material, typically lead, but sometimes brass or copper foil, in the construction of a window with a discernible pattern or design. Often elaborate sparkling bevel clusters are incorporated into the design adding additional impact. These bevels differ from the tempered bevels in that they are smaller and normally have only a one half inch beveled edge.

Leaded glass has the supreme advantage of beauty and elegance. The amount of designs that can be produced are infinite, allowing a product to be created that is truly unique in all the world.

Stained glass windows have been produced for centuries. Evidence remains of stained glass windows from 7th century Britain. Reaching it’s height as an art form during the middle ages, many churches had windows produced that essentially presented stories from the Bible in visual form since there was not widespread literacy at the time. Today the ones that have survived are considered to be priceless works of art.

Leaded art glass by itself has less strength than tempered glass but it can be sandwiched between two sheets of clear tempered or even low E to provide the same benefits as insulated glass. Most of the leaded glass inserts we build here are produced in this configuration, We strongly recommend it for our customers in area with harsh winters.

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