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types of glass

If you plan on getting your windows tinted, it’s helpful to know what glass is, where it comes from and how it is manufactured. Some people may assume glass – which comprises a broad variety of types of glass – is a modern invention, not realizing that it’s been around for centuries. Although nature generates glass from volcanoes, the kind of glass we use today is processed from various minerals as the following describes.

Melted Minerals

The main ingredients of commercial glass are silica sand, soda ash and limestone. Other materials can be used depending on the type of glass being produced, such as alumina, zinc oxide, lead oxide and salt-petre.

These minerals are melted together in a huge furnace at high temperatures as much as 1700 degrees Celsius to form a liquid that is laid out in sheets, which are cooled then flattened with rollers. There are other ways glass can be made for items like handmade glassware, which involves blowing into the liquid with a long tube.

Adding Other Materials

Several materials may be added for color and decorative effects. Glass that is designed for energy efficiency to enhance solar and thermal properties may use a variety of coatings. Tinting essentially involves adding these coatings, which can be several protective layers of raw materials.

Shapes and Styles

Glass windows can be designed in different shapes and styles. Common home styles include a single hung, double hung and sliding windows. Stained glass windows often have curved shapes. The size and shape not only has aesthetic value, but it also affects the amount of natural sunlight that enters your home.

Casement windows have become popular for ranch-style homes due to their back-to-backs appeal and easy to open and close hinge at the bottom of the minimal frame. Picture windows are among the simplest, most energy efficient and low maintenance. They let in plenty of ambient light, provide more heat gain and don’t require many hinges.

Window Film

Starting with car windows in the 1960’s, window film has been used for solar heating purposes. It has since been developed for homes. Window film reflects solar radiation back from a window, protecting indoor surfaces from heat. As a solution to the energy crisis of the 1970’s, it grew in popularity as the film was able to trap heat in rooms.

The original material used was polyester then replaced by more effective and transparent materials for absorbing heat. Window film has evolved in aesthetics beyond a transparent appearance to be sold in various colors, which can help protect privacy. Ultimately, this glass solution helps cut down on air conditioning and heating costs.

Glass Durability

What is the lifespan of glass? It depends on how well you take care of it and the quality of its components, according to the American Architectural Manufacturers Association. Most glass products, however, wear out over time and need maintenance or replacing. Cheap glass might only last ten years while more durable glass can last for decades, provided it isn’t damaged by adverse weather conditions, accidents or vandalism. Certain coatings of the 1970’s have oxidized over a period of 10 to 20 years.

Many times homeowners replace windows when they cause drafts because of leaks. To save money, it’s best to have a professional determine the cause of leaks or cracks to assess an appropriate solution. If you’re going for an aesthetic or more energy efficient solutions, the good news is glass technology is constantly improving.