Are you thinking about replacing the window glass at your property? If so, you're probably aware that there is so much to think about when it comes to choosing the perfect glass for your home. Are you looking for something cheap and cheerful that is widely available? Or do you live in a particularly hot climate and want to filter out UV rays and Infrared light from your home?
The good news is that there are so many windows glass options available to you, and we introduce many of them in this article.
Before we get into our glossary of terms, it's important to recognize that every type of window glass has unique properties. The more basic the glass is, the cheaper it is to produce and install. As you will see from the list below, there is everything from colorless flat panes to heat-soaked tempered safety glass, so you've got a lot to think about!
To help you come to a decision about which window glass to install, we've introduced twelve of the most common types of glass utilized throughout the US and offered a summary of each, which will help you distinguish between the main properties of each of them.
Ready? Let's dive in.
1. Float Glass
We begin with the most common type of glass used in modern-day windows. Float glass is an even, flat layer of glass that has been achieved by the process of turning molten glass into large panels.
Float glass is colorless, comparatively cheap to produce, and lacks strength in its most basic form. It's typical for float glass to be treated before it is installed in windows. Float glass is installed as single, double, or triple glazed windows.
2. Annealed Glass
Technically, annealed glass is float glass. But the key difference is that it has been thermally treated and cooled much more slowly to relieve internal stresses within its composition.
When broken, annealed glass splits into long, jagged shards and is dangerous and likely to cause injury. To be considered safe for use in windows, annealed glass should be coated and treated to enhance its strength and energy efficiency.
3. Heat-strengthened Glass
Twice as strong as annealed glass, heat-strengthened glass is installed within windows when added resilience is required to withstand the elements.
Although it's not classified as a safety glass product, it is intended for general glazing and is a good option for residential properties in taller buildings, where wind speeds are higher.
4. Tempered Glass
Also known as safety glass, tempered glass has been heated to around 1200 degrees Fahrenheit before rapidly cooling. The process of tempering causes the outer surface to compress and the inner surface to tense.
Therefore, when tempered glass is broken, it splits into small, granular chunks that are less likely to cause harm or injury. It's common for tempered glass to be used in both residential and commercial properties.
5. Heat-Soak Tempered Glass
The process of heat soaking glass exposes the NiS inclusions within tempered glass. The glass is heated within a chamber up to approximately 550 degrees Fahrenheit to accelerate the process of expansion.
This process causes the NiS to break within the heat soak chamber. And the reason for this? It means that the NiS won't break after installation, making the tempered glass safer and reducing the risk of compressive stress.
6. Laminated Glass
Laminated glass is another type of safety glass and is achieved by fusing two panes around a layer of polyvinyl butyral. This is done at high temperatures, as is the norm with all types of safety glass.
One of the advantages of laminated glass is that it's not easy to break, and when it is damaged, the glass shards typically stay within the frame and don't spill out onto the floor as with other types of window glass. Laminated glass also reduces noise pollution from noisy neighbors!
7. Gas-Filled Glass
As you've probably guessed by its name, gas-filled glass contains a layer of gas, which is usually either argon or krypton. The gas is pumped in between the frames of either double or triple pained windows.
The primary reason for doing so is that gas-filled glass significantly improves the thermal efficiency of windows, as they minimize the process of heat transfer. As a result, gas-filled glass is an excellent option for windows of properties in colder climates.
8. Low-E Glass
Low E glass (low emissivity) is a special coating applied to the glass's surface to reflect thermal radiation and UV rays. The coating consists of invisible layers of metallic oxide, which allows natural light to enter the home while deflecting UV rays and infrared light back out. (Related article: Low-E Windows vs. Clear Glass Windows: Which One Should You Get?)
Low E glass is advantageous because it keeps your house cool in the summer and warm in the winter. It also protects the interior of your home from damage and ensures you're not likely to burn your skin from direct sunlight that enters your home through the windows.
9. Tinted Glass
Tints can be added to glass panes by adding color. But equally, tinted glass offers protection from UV rays, although it is less effective than E glass in this regard.
If you're looking for additional privacy when you're inside your home, adding a tint to your glass is a good option, as it obscures vision for those looking in.
10. Obscured Glass
Not to be confused with tinted glass, obscured glass is frosted or patterned so that light can filter in while making it difficult to discern distinct shapes.
Within a home, obscured glass is most commonly affixed to bathroom windows to offer additional privacy. Some homeowners also opt to install obscured glass in their front or back doors to stop unwelcome visitors from looking in.
11. Mirrored Glass
Perhaps the most self-explanatory type of glass included on this list, mirrored glass, is one that reflects light back to where it came from, providing a mirrored effect.
It is achieved by placing a metal coating on one side of the glass, which is then covered with a protective sealant. Mirrored glass is more commonly used inside homes as opposed to on windows, but it is still used all the same.
12. Wired Glass
Although people often think that wired glass is security-enhancing, it is actually primarily used as a fire-resistant glass. The wire within the pane works to hold the glass together in extreme temperatures and prevents the glass from smashing if a fire breaks out.
While many homeowners might consider wired glass to be unnecessary from a residential perspective, it's commonly installed in windows at commercial or industrial properties.
How Much Do the Different Types of Window Glass Typically Cost?
Home Advisor informs us that it costs on average $273 to replace window glass in the US. But as with everything, a range of factors affect the cost of window glass, and it largely depends on the type of glass you're planning to install.
As we have introduced above, there are so many different types of glass, but how much do each of them cost? Below is a guide to how much you can expect to pay per square foot for some of the different types of window glass in the US:
Price Per Square ft
$12 - $14
$10 - $20
$10 - $14
$25 - $100
Double glazed (float)
$3 - $6
Generally, float pane Thermopane/Thermal glass is the cheapest type of glass you can install at your home. As you can see, tempered, impact-resistant, and laminated options are more expensive per square ft, owing to the additional benefits that installing them brings. So, which is considered the best type of window glass to install in your home's windows?
Ultimately, it's difficult to say which is the best type of window glass, as every homeowner has different needs and requirements. However, it's safe to say that float glass is the most basic and most affordable type of glass and doesn't offer Plate/Flat a great deal in the way of enhancements.
Tempered glass is widely regarded as a safer and more secure option for homes, thanks to the fact that it is thicker and shatters into small, dull pieces if broken. But if you're looking for a reinforced glass option that filters out UV rays and Infrared light, you might want to opt for a gas-filled or Low E glass pane, providing your budget allows.
The bottom line is that there is so much choice when it comes to picking the correct type of window glass for your home, so be sure to consider the properties of each type of glass above so you pick the perfect solution for your property's windows.