3/16" glass picked up the nickname "crystal" long ago. It is used an larger residential windows and is quite common in commercial storefront applications. In the past it had been used as protective tops on furniture, but today the use of 1/4" glass is more common.
1/4" glass is frequently referred to as "plate" glass. It is commonly used as a protective top on furniture and in larger windows. It is also commonly used as shelving. On smaller interior tables in can be used as the top itself.
3/8" glass is commonly used on small tables and is used as shelving to give a "richer" look.
½" glass is used on mid-sized and large tables.
3/4" glass is used on the largest table tops.
glass in excess of 1" is available from time to time on a special order basis.
Safety Glass This term refers to the family of glazing materials which can be used to satisfy code requirements and provide a safer environment. The family includes tempered (heat strengthening process) as used in automobile side windows, laminated (2 or more pieces of glass with a plastic inner layer) as found in car windshields as well as some plastics. Mirror can be "safety-backed" which will allow it to be safely used in applications such as a mirrored wardrobe door. Tempered glass is often called "shatterproof" which is misleading as it is designed to "shatter" on impact. There is no glass that is truly "shatterproof".
Tempered glass is a process done to regular glass which increases its’ strength approximately 4 times but makes it brittle and can warp its surface. The process involves heating the glass to approximately 1400 degrees, then chilling (quenching) it to 200 degrees within 2 minutes. The process is slightly different for each thickness of glass. Tempered glass, once tempered, cannot be re-cut without shattering. Obviously all fabrication must be done before the glass is tempered.
Laminated Glass is typically 2 pieces of glass with a plastic inner layer. Its most common application is the windshield of a car, which, if broken, can still keep the passenger inside the vehicle and also will serve as a structural backstop for the airbag. Laminated Auto glass must have an inner layer of .015 mm, but if laminated glass is used in a residential of commercial application the minimum thickness is raised to .030 mm. Laminated glass is commonly used in jewelry stores to defend against the "smash and grab" robbery. The .030 inner layer is thick enough to provide a good ultraviolet screen (unlike auto glass). The ultraviolet screen can reduce fading in upholstered items and carpets. It also has sound reduction qualities. It’s primary limitation is strength. A piece of 1/4" tempered glass is approximately 4 times stronger than regular glass, but a comparable piece of 7/32" laminated is made up of 2 pieces of 1/8", non-tempered glass which means it may break with just 1/8th the pressure required to break tempered glass. Laminated glass would be the glass of choice in a boat, since despite breaking it will stay in the opening (keeping out the water), unlike tempered glass.
Edge Treatments When glass is cut it leaves a razor sharp edge, top and bottom.
Seaming involves running a sander over the top and bottom edges to make it safer to handle.
Polished edge refers to giving the edge a finished surface. A satin polished edge would mean that the edge is finished and has a low luster edge. For glass 3/8" and above you generally would ask for a high-luster edge, which would make the edge nearly as smooth as the top of the glass.
Flat polish is the most common edge. The edge is ground at 90 degrees to the top surface of the glass. It can be either satin or high luster. This edge also has an "arias" which is a tiny 45 degree surface whose function is to remove the sharpness from the glass. The arias is commonly mistaken for a "bevel"
Beveled Edge" refers to grinding the face of the glass or mirror off at its edge. Most typically the band it creates is ½" or 1" and is decorative in function. While ½" and 1" are the most common, several other widths are available (at additional cost and lead time)
Mitered Edge This describes grinding all of the edge away at a prescribed. angle. A 45 degree mitered edge would involve cutting away the front of the glass at a 45 degree angle. Two 45 degree miters could be put together to give you a 90 degree mitered corner (un-mitered glass would meet in a "butted" corner).
Obscure Glass This the general family of glass that you can see shapes through, but not with clarity. The most common applications are bathroom windows and shower doors. There are many patterns of obscure glass and most are available in only one thickness. In recent years the availability of different patterns of obscure glass has risen dramatically. However, some of these are "here today and gone tomorrow" If you choose an unusual pattern for your kitchen cabinets you may not be able to duplicate a replacement in the future. Most patterns are machined (assembly line repetition of the same pattern). A very few are natural patterns (gluechip and seedy) while only gluechip can be either natural or machined (big difference in appearance).
Tinted Glass This refers to introducing a color to the glass. In our industry tinting the glass is done by mixing the tint with the glass as it is manufactured. A different industry, window tinters, can apply window film to glass. The tint, since it is part of the glass, will get darker as the glass gets thicker. 1/4" bronze glass is twice as dark as 1/8' bronze glass. Since the tint is a function of the thickness of the glass your choice will be somewhat limited. Keep in mind that if you choose tinted glass what your viewing will change. The beautiful tile or marble you spent so much time choosing for your shower will look very different through a tinted glass shower door. If you elect to use an applied window tint check with your window manufacturer as in many cases applying a window tint to and insulated glass window may void its warranty. Also, window tinting may require special cleaning techniques to keep from scratching the applied tint.
Insulated Glass Unit (IGU), also known as "dual glazed" A relatively new product that can offer superior performance in controlling energy loss and, to some extent noise abatement. The IGU unlike old window glass is not a permanent product. It is made up of two panes of glass with a hermetically
Sealed air space between the glass. This air space gives it enhanced ability to control temperature loss, but once the seal fails, condensation will form between the panels, requiring the replacement of the entire unit. Similarly, if one of the two panes breaks the entire unit must be replaced. Expect that IGUs in a site built wood window frame will NOT be warranted for failure when they are replaced by a glass shop. This is because the "wood stop" system is not built with a "weep system" which will provide for drainage of condensation that can build up within the frame. Manufactured aluminum and vinyl windows have such systems. Also wood can swell and contract with changes in humidity which can damage the IGU. Lead times for IGUs will vary depending on their composition. Tempered units will generally take an additional week. If Low-E glass is part of the IGU there is no way to match your existing glass. Northshore Glass & Mirror, Inc. uses a laser reader which can measure the individual pieces of glass and the overall thickness of the IGU. It can also determine if the glass has a Low-E coating and which surface it is on. It cannot, however, tell what kind of Low-E glass is in your old unit. There are over 30 different types of Low-E glass and they all have subtly different shades. Some aren’t available locally and many have been discontinued. If we don’t get an exact match it will probably show!
Low-E Glass This is a family of glass called Low Emissivity or Low-E glass. It has been around for about 15 years and has gone through a series of advances. Its best application is in an IGU (insulated glass unit) with the coating inside the unit where it can’t be touched. The coating cuts down a broad spectrum of ultraviolet rays, allowing enhanced performance in reducing temperature loss through the glass. Since it limits ultraviolet rays it can reduce fabric fading in carpets and upholstered items.