Glass Options, Styles, and Features

by | May 15, 2018 | Planning

A glass enclosure is nothing without the glass! As a company deeply invested in the custom home renovation market, we can say with certainty that glass selection is of paramount importance to our clients and to our projects. Our goal is to introduce sensational levels of natural sunlight to your home in a way that is cost-effective, built to last, and beautiful. We can’t do that without utilizing the products offered by some of America’s top glass manufacturers.

From thermal performance to solar transmittance to tint and shade, the choice of glass utilized in your home addition, glass roof, or skylight will have a significant impact on the results. That’s why we’ll go over all of the options with you during the planning and design phase of your project. In the meantime, this article should serve as a good overview of the market’s offerings.

Insulating Glass (IG)

Also known as insulated glass, insulating glass comes in double glazing (or double-pane) and triple glazing (or triple-pane) varieties. Two or more glass panes are separated by either a vacuum or gas filled space with the goal of reducing heat transfer from the building’s interior to the building’s exterior or vice versa (also known as the building envelope). The panes are held together and weatherproofed with sealant, and the space between them often contains a desiccant to remove unwanted moisture.

Insulated glass is available in a variety of thicknesses where the selection depends on a project’s needs. Like virtually any other glass pane, IG units are also available in a great variety of colors, tints, reflectives, laminates, patterns, and coatings. The result is a glass unit that allows abundant natural sunlight to pass through while minimizing the transfer of ultraviolet and infrared light and heat.

Insulated glass is essential to the glass structures Sunspace Design engineers. We offer New Englanders enclosures which meet the environmental challenges of all four of our seasons without breaking the bank via large heating and electric bills. Carefully taking into account every aspect of the enclosure’s thermal performance is how we make good on this offer.

An illustrated diagram of a dual pane window showing the framing, interior pane, exterior pane, spacer, desiccant, and sealant

Here we see the anatomy of a basic double pane insulated glass unit.
Regardless of the materials used, the principle remains the same.

Reflective and Low-E Coatings

The coatings and laminates applied to the outside-facing glass panes can reduce air-to-heat transfer and solar heat absorption. Low-E glass (also known as low emissivity glass) has an extremely thin coating which reflects long-wave infrared energy. Some coatings also reflect short-wave solar infrared energy.

What does this mean for the average consumer? That warm interior air of the home is reflected back into interior in the winter, while the hot summer heat is reflected away from the window in the summer. This will save you energy on your heating and air conditioning bills. Because we offer so many four season glass structures that maintain top thermal performance across a large range of weather conditions, the coatings and reflective properties of the glass units we work with are very important.


ClearShield Technology

Produced by one of our top manufacturing partners – Solar Seal – ClearShield is a glass technology which ensures that your glass maintains top clarity over time. The glass will resist stains and discoloration, and will also wipe clean more easily. When you receive one of our sunroom additions or horticultural greenhouses, you don’t want to spend more time washing than you have to. ClearShield technology can help leave your home addition’s glass windows, walls, doors, and glass roof elements free from streaks and smears. That’ll save you time and energy.


Heat Strengthened and Tempered Glass

When a pane of glass undergoes a carefully calibrated heating and cooling process, it becomes approximately two times stronger than normally annealed glass. This process is known as heat-strengthening and it can enhance a glass product’s ability to withstand heavy wind and thermal heat. Depending on your application, heat strengthened glass may be necessary!

The difference between heat strengthened and tempered glass comes down to the cooling speed during manufacture. Created by a faster cooling process, tempered glass goes a step or two beyond heat-strengthening and is approximately four times as strong as annealed glass of otherwise comparable specifications. And because tempered glass shatters into easily manageable fragments it’s considered safer than normal glass. That’s why it’s also known as “safety glass”. This glass type is most often used in applications where the risk of broken glass poses significant safety hazards, as in the case of glass roof or skylight components in commercial spaces.


A view of a glass pane under rainy conditions, with streaks of rain and droplets of water visible on the surface of the glass

It’s important that the glass selection for your new enclosure achieves the desired performance.
With four seasons of New England weather to face, it better be glass that’s built to last!

Glass Color and Tint Interlayers

Although transmitting sunlight to interior spaces is a principal benefit of any of our skylights, roof lanterns, or custom enclosures (like sunrooms or orangeries), sometimes a little color goes a long way. Color interlayers allow a greater range of architectural and aesthetic expression. While tinted or colored glass isn’t used in every project, when it is used the results can be stunning. Additionally, this glass can be frosted and is available in a wide range of translucencies.

For some examples of tinted and colored glass in action, head over to Vanceva’s color gallery.

Does your dream of a conservatory, porch enclosure, or swimming pool house involve the use of colored or tinted glass? No problem. Because our team consists of both design and construction professionals, we’re comfortable working with any plan, no matter how complex or large it may be.


Specialty Interlayers

Other interlayer types include acoustic reduction PVB interlayers or structural PVB interlayers intended to improve the glass unit’s strength. Because sound transmission can be an issue in spaces that make heavy use of glass, acoustic interlayers can solve the problem via their sound dampening properties. This is especially useful in any glass enclosures or spaces in commercial or public areas like airports, hotels, offices, schools, concert halls, museums, and theaters.


A view of a tall building complex with many windows made with tinted and colored glass

Tinted and colored glass can create a dramatic effect, and can even be used artistically.
It can even look great on huge buildings like this one! What’s in store for your project?


Glass Sizing and Configurations

Glass panes have been utilized by Sunspace in a variety of ways, including but not limited to windows and doors, curtain walls, skylights, storefront doors, storm doors, and sliding glass doors.


Sunspace Design Projects: Letting the Light In

No matter your glass selection, Sunspace Design will provide you with a terrific glass space or product that meets your every need. Our expert team will go over the options with you during the consultation and planning period prior to installation. We make every effort to deliver on time and on budget. That means you and your family will be able to enjoy your new glass elements in peace and comfort. If you’re interested in learning more about how our glass offerings can bring a little light to your space, contact us today.

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