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The 6 Kinds of Commercial Glass and The Purposes They Serve

Mar. 07, 2024
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If you’re starting a new commercial construction or design, a key ingredient can make or break your project — the glass you choose. Selecting the right type of glass for a commercial space is a decision that carries weight. The right choice enhances natural lighting, improves energy efficiency, and bolsters safety measures. 

The variety of commercial glass available today is incredible. Each type of glass brings something unique to the table. Glass is a transformative element in the realm of commercial architecture. From breathtaking glass exteriors that capture the eye to interior glass features that redefine workspace dynamics, the role of glass in commercial design is pivotal and profound.

Join us as we explore each kind of commercial glass to understand their unique features and uncover how you can use them in your commercial space. Whether you’re designing a boutique office, a bustling shopping center, or an iconic skyscraper, knowing your glass will guide you toward creating visually stunning, smart, safe, and sustainable spaces. 

1. Tempered Glass

Tempered glass is a true hero in the glass world, especially when it is used in commercial buildings. 

The creation of tempered glass is an art form. It starts its life as regular glass but undergoes a transformative process. The glass is heated to extreme temperatures — we’re talking over 600 degrees Celsius — and then it’s rapidly cooled down. 

This process, known as tempering, changes the glass’s makeup at a molecular level, endowing it with superior strength compared to regular glass.

When people talk about the strength of tempered glass, they mean it’s seriously tough. It’s around four to five times more breakage-resistant than your standard glass. But its real claim to fame is how it behaves if it does break. 

Instead of shattering into sharp, dangerous shards, tempered glass breaks into small, pebble-like pieces. These are much less likely to cause injury, which makes tempered glass a safer option for busy commercial spaces.

Tempered glass is everywhere. The glass you see in shopfronts provides both security and a clear view inside. In office buildings or hotels, it’s often used for things like staircases, balustrades, or places where many people gather, and safety shouldn’t be compromised. 

It’s also perfect for areas needing heat resistance, like kitchen appliances or lighting fixtures. The bottom line is, its durability and safety make tempered glass a versatile choice for all sorts of applications in commercial buildings. It’s a robust, safe, and adaptable material that’s essential in the world of commercial architecture. 

2. Laminated Glass

Laminated glass merges safety with function. We’ll explore how it’s crafted, its standout benefits, particularly in noise control and UV protection, and its popular use in commercial settings.

Laminated glass involves placing a tough plastic layer between two glass panes, typically PVB (polyvinyl butyral) or EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate). This trio then undergoes a process involving heat and pressure, bonding them into a single unit. What’s remarkable is that if this glass breaks, the interlayer holds the pieces together to prevent them from scattering.

This type of glass stands out in two significant ways — noise reduction and UV protection. Imagine being in a bustling city center but barely hearing the chaos outside, thanks to laminated glass’s sound-dampening qualities. 

It’s also a guardian against the sun’s harmful UV rays. Laminated glass blocks over 99% of them and protects people and interior décor from sun damage.

You’ll find laminated glass playing vital roles in various commercial structures. It’s chosen for its strength and UV-blocking power in places like atriums or skylights. In environments like offices or hospitals where tranquility is key, laminated glass helps keep spaces quiet and peaceful.

3. Tinted and Coated Glass

Let’s take a closer look at tinted and coated glass. These are two popular choices in commercial architecture that blend functionality with a sleek design. We’ll cover how they’re made, the unique benefits they bring, and the ideal situations where they make a difference.

Creating tinted and coated glass is quite an interesting process. Tinted glass gets its color during the glass-making process, where colorants are added to give it a distinct shade. This adds a visual appeal and helps reduce glare and heat from the sun. 

Coated glass, on the other hand, involves applying a special coating to the surface of the glass. This coating is designed to reflect or absorb sunlight and is applied either during the glass manufacturing process or after the glass is made.

Why are tinted and coated glass so popular, especially in commercial buildings? First off, they’re fantastic for energy efficiency. By controlling how much heat and light enter a building, they help keep indoor temperatures more stable, leading to energy bill savings. 

Then there’s the privacy aspect. Tinted glass offers a way to keep prying eyes out while still letting light in, which is great for spaces like offices or meeting rooms. These glasses add a modern, stylish look to any building.

Office buildings benefit greatly from tinted or coated glass, providing a comfortable working environment by balancing light and privacy. Retail spaces use them to create an inviting atmosphere while protecting their products from sunlight. They’re also ideal for areas that get a lot of sun, helping to minimize glare and reduce the heat inside the building.

4. Bulletproof and Security Glass

The term “bulletproof glass” might bring to mind an impenetrable barrier, but in reality, it’s more about resistance and resilience. This formidable type of glass is typically a sandwich of multiple layers. There is a tough, hard glass on the outside and a softer, more flexible material like polycarbonate on the inside. 

When a bullet strikes this glass, the outer layer spreads the force across a larger area. In contrast, the inner layer absorbs the impact and significantly reduces the bullet’s ability to pass through.

In our ever-evolving world where safety concerns are paramount, security glass has become increasingly important in various commercial settings. It acts as a guardian against external threats, be they attempted break-ins or more serious threats. This protection is invaluable in reassuring those inside, whether they’re working, shopping, or going about their daily activities.

Where might you encounter bulletproof and security glass? Banks and financial institutions are classic examples. You’ll often see it in windows and teller partitions. It’s also a common feature in government buildings and embassies that need an extra layer of security. 

Retail stores, especially high-end jewelers, also employ bulletproof glass to protect their valuable merchandise. More recently, its use has expanded to public places like schools and hospitals for enhanced safety measures in all types of public spaces.

5. Fire-Rated Glass

Fire-rated glass is a marvel of modern technology that plays a pivotal role in keeping commercial spaces safe. At its core, fire-rated glass is crafted to stand strong against fire and smoke. Its types vary based on resistance levels and construction. Some endure intense heat for 20 to 90 minutes, while others extend beyond that. 

There are two main types of fire-rated glass:

  • Fire-Protective Glass: This variant excels in halting flames and smoke, making it a go-to for internal use, like in fire doors and partitions. However, it doesn’t block heat transmission.
  • Fire-Resistive Glass: Going a notch higher, this type also prevents heat transfer. It’s achieved through additional layers, making it suitable for external or high-risk areas needing more robust fire protection.

In the event of a fire, fire-rated glass is a lifesaving barrier. It holds back the spread of fire and smoke to buy precious time for evacuation. This helps to reduce damage and safeguard lives and property.

Fire-rated glass shines in zones that might need quick isolation in a fire, places like staircases, lift shafts, or dividing walls. Its presence is equally important in schools, hospitals, and high-rise buildings, where rapid fire spread could have devastating effects.

6. Insulated Glass

The final type of glass we will cover is insulated glass. You are probably familiar with this type, but we’ve got all the information about what sets insulated glass apart, its impressive role in cutting down energy use and noise, and where it’s making a real difference in modern buildings.

Insulated glass consists of two or more layers of glass. These layers are separated and sealed by a spacer, trapping air or an inert gas like argon between them. This clever design is the secret behind its insulating power to keep the cold out during winters and the heat out during summers.

The ability of insulated glass to maintain indoor temperatures means buildings need less heating in the cold months and less air conditioning when it’s hot. This means a noticeable reduction in energy bills. 

If you’ve ever been in a room with insulated glass, you might have noticed how much quieter it is. The trapped gas layer is an excellent sound buffer, especially in noisy environments.

Insulated glass has found its way into many buildings where comfort and energy efficiency are key. In office buildings, it’s a staple for keeping work environments both quiet and temperature-controlled. For hotels and residential apartments, it ensures guests and residents aren’t disturbed by outside noise. It’s also ideal for schools and hospitals, where a calm and comfortable atmosphere is essential.

Transform your space with Valley Glass

For those ready to bring these glass wonders into their own projects, Valley Glass is here to help. With our deep expertise and wide range of high-quality glass options, we are equipped to bring your vision to life. 

At Valley Glass, we understand the nuances of each glass type and are ready to guide you in selecting the perfect fit for your needs, ensuring a blend of beauty, efficiency, and safety.

So, whether you’re renovating an existing space or building something new, trust Valley Glass to provide not only the glass but also the guidance and craftsmanship your project deserves. 

Reach out to Valley Glass today and take the first step towards transforming your space with the perfect glass solutions.

1. Clear or Transparent Glass

Clear glass is a traditional choice for storefronts, and for good reason. Since people can clearly see what's behind the glass, it gives business owners a good opportunity to highlight their wares. Also, people who provide a service can show of the confidence they have in their skills by allowing a passersby to look in to see what they're doing and how they're doing it.

2. Tinted or Coated Glass

When a business uses tinted glass, they give their patrons a modicum of privacy but just enough transparency that people can still peek inside. In addition, tinted glass can work well for storefronts that take on the brunt of the sun during the day. The tints can help block harsh UV light and help to keep the inside of the store cooler during hot weather

Tinted glass also adds a little security to a storefront, especially after dark when the tint keeps people from easily seeing inside after the business closes. Tints can range in shade, and you can add coatings to give glass a tint as well as extra protection.

3. Frosted Glass

Frosted glass accomplishes many of the same things as tinted glass, but has a different aesthetic. This type of glass adds a brightness to the storefront while also serving to grant some privacy.

Still, this glass helps to filter out the harshness of the sun while still allowing natural light in. Businesses that want more interior privacy while maintaining an open feeling should consider frosted glass.

4. Safety Glass

Safety glass is an umbrella term for all types of glass designed to promote security, and protection. You can have clear, tinted, or frosted safety glass. The difference is your glass will have a better chance to withstanding blunt force, attack, or accidents that would normally break glass. Some types of safety glass can include:

  • Tempered glass
  • Security glass
  • Laminated glass
  • Wired glass

Many of these glass types also offer other benefits. For example, laminated glass helps prevent damage, but it also helps to insulate the interior from sound and UV light. If your business has a higher risk of a specific type of damage occurring, speak with a commercial glass professional about choosing the safety glass best suited for that risk.

Some types of safety glass serve to keep people safe in case the glass breaks. For example, tempered glass has strength, but if it breaks, the pieces will crumble into smaller glass balls that have less of a chance of hurting someone.

5. Insulated Glass

The term insulated glass represents various types of commercial glass that serve to provide insulation. Insulated glass includes:

  • Dual pane glass
  • Gas-filled glass
  • Treated glass

Insulated glass can help your HVAC system perform more efficiently by reducing energy loss. Also, these windows can do the job without the need to change their appearance. For example, clear insulated glass will give you the benefits of having clear glass, but the insulation properties that come from tinted or coated glass.

Many other types of commercial glass and glass configurations exist. These are some of the most common types of glass businesses use for storefronts, but you may have a unique request or situation. Bob's Glass offers commercial glass services for businesses . When you want to decide on what type of glass will work best for your property's storefront, contact us.

The storefront of retail or commercial structures serves several roles. Choosing the right type of glass for your storefront comes with considerations of safety, aesthetics, quality, and energy efficiency. You can choose glass with one purpose in mind, or several. Here are some of the more popular types of glass commercial businesses tend to use for their storefronts.

The 6 Kinds of Commercial Glass and The Purposes They Serve

5 Types of Commercial Glass to Consider for Your Storefront



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