A to Z of types of glass for construction

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Glass is a non-crystalline amorphous solid that is often transparent; it has wide applications in construction. This article looks at some of the different types of glass used for construction.

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The glazing material is usually made from sheets of soda lime glass. This is floated or rolled into sheets and then cut to size by notching and snapping or laser cutting with diamond-tipped cutting tools or with water jets.

Glass can be strengthened by thermal or chemical weathering, and it can be bent and bent as it is heated. Some manufacturers add surface coatings for specific functions such as scratch resistance or blocking UV rays.

Structural glazing is now ubiquitous and is a key aesthetic element of modern architecture. Around the world, the skylines of modern cities are dominated by tall, glass-walled skyscrapers. Stainless steel fittings are recessed into the recesses of the glass panels to create a modern skyscraper look.

The glass used for construction contains a mixture of raw materials: silica, sodium and potassium carbonate, lime, lead oxide and manganese oxide.

In construction, different types of glass fulfill different tasks or functions. Below is an alphabetical list of the main types of glass used in construction.

Chromatic glass

Chromatic glass is used whenever interiors need protection from sunlight. Intensive care units, meeting rooms and airports use this type of glass to protect building occupants from glare.

Chromatic glass can be produced with electric lamination methods, which makes the glass electrochromic. Thermochromic glass is made with heat sensitive lamination and photochromic glass is made with light sensitive lamination.

Energy efficient glass

Energy efficient types of glass have been developed to help buildings reduce energy costs, especially in colder climates. This type is made by adding a thin layer to one side of a sheet of float glass.

The coating allows solar energy (light and heat) to pass through the glass panels in one direction only. This means that windows can act as radiators when the sun shines on them and they lose less heat in the shade.

Float glass

Float glass or soda lime glass is the main type of glass panel used in construction; most other types of glass are made by adding coatings to float glass panels or by modifying the standard float glass composition or method.

Float glass is made of calcium silicate and sodium silicate. The name comes from the production process: molten glass is poured onto a bed of molten tin, where it floats.

Liquids repel each other so that the float glass spreads out to cover the flat surface above the molten metal. When the glass cools, it hardens without adhering to the pewter. Then it can be removed and processed.

Float glass can be made in thicknesses between 2 mm and 20 mm, and generally weighs between 6 kg and 36 kg/m2. Untreated float glass can be cut easily with hand-held glass cutting tools.

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glass blocks

The glass blocks are made of two halves pressed together while the connecting sides are still melted, leaving a hollow center. They are used in decorative applications to let in light while blocking the view, such as in bathrooms and street level windows.

Insulated glazing

Insulated glass provides additional thermal insulation by trapping layers of air between the panes. Double glazing is the most widely used type, but triple glazing units are becoming more common with growing concerns about energy efficiency in buildings.

Laminated glass

Laminated glass is made up of multiple layers of glass stacked together with a transparent, flexible bonding material that bonds the layers together.

It is generally UV resistant and soundproof, and is used for tough applications like glass canopies and walkways.

Unbreakable glass

Shatterproof glass is made with polyvinyl butyral plastic resin which prevents it from turning into sharp pieces if broken.

sheet or flat glass

Flat glass is less resistant than float glass but cheaper and faster to produce. It is made by passing molten glass through a roller to create a relatively flat finish.

Sheet glass is only suitable for greenhouse or decorative applications due to its reduced strength.

Tinted glass

Glass tinting is achieved by adding one of several coloring agents to the silica mixture to color the final glass. Iron oxide, for example, gives a green coloration, while sulfur gives glass a blue appearance.

Heat-tempered glass

Tempered glass or tempered glass is used throughout the construction industry. It is tempered to make it less likely to break. If it breaks, it breaks into small pieces with rounded edges. Tempered glass is usually also shatterproof.

It is used in all environments where there is a risk of the panel breaking, such as shower enclosures, railings and kitchens.

Wired glass

Wired glass is toughened glass with a wire mesh embedded inside the glass. This keeps the glass panel in place in case of breakage or cracking.

More from AzoBuild: A to Z of Insulation Materials

References and further reading

Savage, P. (2017). The rise of glass buildings. [Online] Glass time. Available at: https://glasstimes.co.uk/featured-articles/the-rise-of-glass-buildings/

Ten types of glass: technical properties and applications in construction. [Online] The constructor. Available at: https://theconstructor.org/building/types-glass-properties-applications-construction/14755/

Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are those of the author expressed privately and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited T/A AZoNetwork, the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the terms of use of this website.

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