Using glass as a building material

Asha Bogenfuerst Asha Bogenfuerst
homify Modern houses
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Glass is one of the oldest and most versatile materials to be used in building. However, the way glass is used in architecture has come a long way since glass was first used as a building material. During the industrial revolution, the mass production of glass, concrete and steel eventually resulted in the big cities with massive skyscrapers we currently have. Even today, glass and steel towers are seen as representations of wealth and progress. In a similar way, houses or apartments using glass as one of the main building materials are perceived as more beautiful, luxurious and elegant.

In today's article we will discuss the different types of glass which can be used for building and also the specific properties of various types of glass. We hope the information here will help you to make a more well-informed decision concerning the construction of your home. It's best to gather as much knowledge as possible before commencing on an expensive and time-consuming project as big as the building of your own home. Although at the end of the day, you probably will have to consult with professionals and architects, it will help a lot to have a basic knowledge of the best materials to choose and so on. This will also make it easier to work along with experts in the field, so you too can be a part of building your dream home.

Types of glass

Float glass: It's also called clear glass or soda lime glass. The standard thickness for float glass ranges from 2mm to 20mm, while the weight range is between 6 to 26kg. One of the advantages of float glass is that it is quite strong and relatively durable. However, you may find that it has too much glare and transparency.

Tinted glass: The great thing about tinted glass is that it prevents the glare from the sun, gives you a little more privacy and can also add some colour to your home. You can have the glass tinted in green, black, yellow, red or blue!

Tempered glass: It has low transparency, high durability and it's fire-resistant. Tempered glass or toughened glass is available in the same thickness and weight range as float glass.

Laminated glass: Although this type of glass may be heavier than other types, it is tough and protects us from UV radiation and insulates sound as well. However, take note that it can cause optical distortions.

Shatterproof glass: This type of glass is great especially if you have children as it magically does not form sharp edged pieces when it is broken. Shatterproof glass is often used for skylights, windows and flooring.

Extra clean glass: If you're looking for a low-maintenance type of glass which hardly needs to be cleaned to look good, this type of glass is your best bet. This glass does not like water so the water moves over them without leaving any marks behind. It's also contains a type of self-cleaning mechanism as it's covered with nanoparticles that break up dirt.

Double glazed units: The main benefit of this glass is that it reduces heat gain and heat loss. While generally normal glass can cause a building to become very heated up, even if it's fully air-conditioned, double glazed units are the cooler and more environmentally-friendly option.

Chromatic glass: This type of glass is great because it can effectively control natural light and transparency. There are three types of chromatic glass—photochromatic (light sensitive lamination on glass), thermochromatic (heat sensitive lamination on glass) and electrochromatic (light sensitive glass which can be controlled by an electricity switch).

Glass wool: This type of glass is a great for thermal and sound insulation.

Glass blocks: Glass blocks are hollow at the centre, so while they still allow light in, they might also cause optical distortions similar to laminated glass.

For more inspiration, you may want to check out this dream home for the modern family.

Properties of glass

The transparency of glass is one of the unique properties of glass which allows the interiors of a home to be connected to the exteriors, thereby creating spaciousness visually. However, glass need not always be completely transparent. The transparency can be changed according to your preferences and needs. Glass is a very versatile material—it can be blown, drawn or pressed, creating various textures, colours and levels of transparency.

When it comes to determining the quality of the glass, look at things like the U-value, which is how heat is transferred through the glass. A low U-value means better insulation, which means the glass would be better at keeping the heat or the cold out.

Glass is a fragile material, but thanks to technology, certain laminates and protective layers can make it surprisingly durable.

Compared to many other materials such as concrete and wood, glass is relatively environmentally friendly and is 100% recyclable. Glass is also great when combined with solar power as it can reflect the heat back on to the solar panels, generating more heat. Since glass allows more light into the house, it can also save energy.

Glass can offer efficient thermal and sound insulation when they have glazing. Double glazing or triple glazing is quite common in modern homes. However, for the best results, choose glass with energy-efficient glazing.

We hope this article has been informative and helpful. For more inspiration, have a look at these Indian homes.

What else would you like to know about using glass as a building material? 

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