Types of Glass

11/04/2015

What is glass?

Glass is a solid, inorganic material that is hard, brittle and usually clear or translucent. Glass has many, many uses in the modern world from bottles to contain delicious beer, jars for our favourite farmhouse pates, chopping boards, mirrors, windows, balconies, doors and much more beyond comprehension.  Although glass hasn't always been used in the latest smart phone or high rise luxury office buildings, it is estimated that glass was first created around 3000BC during what is termed the bronze age. 

Glass is made by fusing opaque sand with soda and lime, although peculiarly it is completely transparent, behaves like a solid material and is also at the same time an odd liquid in disguise.. When heating sand to an incredibly high temperature it becomes molten yet when it cools it undergoes a complete transformation into a frozen liquid - somewhere between a solid and a liquid. 

What types of glass are available?

There are quite a number of sub-categories available to distinguish different types of glass, but we'll look at the most common forms in relation to our website :

Annealed Glass

 

Annealed glass is the most basic form of sheet glass, basically just a flat surface of glass that is the first result of the float process. Annealed glass is very brittle and when broken will do so into large jagged shards that are very sharp and hazardous. Annealed glass is often used in double glazed windows but more commonly is the starting material for producing other glass products such as toughened and laminated glass that have many more uses. 

Toughened Glass

 

Toughened glass is far more resistant to breakage than its simpler form of just being annealed sheet glass, hence the name. When toughened glass does break, it does so in a very common and predictable way, by breaking into small safe pieces that make it the obvious, and often only legal choice for major safety applications such as use in glass floors, safety balustrades and canopies to name but a few. 

Toughened glass is made from the aforementioned annealed sheet glass that has been treated by a thermal tempering process, heating the glass to an incredible 600 degrees, a temperature that is known as being 'above its annealing point'. The glass is then rapidly cooled on the surface while the inner remains heated, all of which changes the composition of the glass and its physical properties to become, eventually, toughened. 

Toughened glass is the most common product used here at DioMet. We incorporate it into a wide variety of our glazed balustrades, door canopies, sliding glass doors, table tops and handrail systems. Toughened glass is essential to our business and we have become one of the leading suppliers of glazed products throughout the UK. 

Laminated Glass

 

Laminated glass is one that involves another production process and is created by using two or more sheets of glass bonded together with a polymeric interlayer that effectively 'glues' the two panes together with immense strength. The most common laminated glass is produced by incorporating a film known as Poly Vinyl Butyral (PVB) as its interlayer.

So why would we laminate glass? Well laminated glass offers further advantages, especially in safety applications as rather than shattering upon impact such as the above toughened glass would, a laminated section would break but remain held together by the PVB interlayer. Although toughened glass by name and nature is tough, once it is broken it is effectively collected in a bucket and no longer remains in its application, unlike laminated glass that would still remain as a safety balustrade guarding for example, even if broken into a sagging state of its former self. 

Laminated glass is used by DioMet predominately in frameless glass balustrades and juliet balconies as required by BS 6180, in instances where for example no handrail is used and the balustrade guarding is required to remain in place in case of breakage of the glass. Laminated glass is also often used in overhead canopy applications and as walk on floor glass panels for balconies, modern housing features and decking applications. 

Further Reading :

 

Buying  toughened glass online

Glass wind screen London

Glass canopies

Add space with a balcony

Benefits of adding a walk out balcony 

Shaped Staircase Glass

Made-to-measure toughened glass panels for staircases can be bought with ease, view our blog of a recent example project which includes shaped glass around stair risers, fitted with stainless steel glazing clamps.


Glass Worktops and Window Ledges

Toughened glass can be used to enhance the aesthetics of many areas in the home and our recent showcase example displays bespoke glass cut for window ledges, bathroom worktops and splashbacks.


Glass Well Covers

Have you discovered an old well in your garden? Why not make a beautiful feature out of it with some walk-on toughened and laminated glass rather than filling it in and hiding it? Click here to see a recent example project.


Staircase Improvement Ideas

Does your staircase require updating or modernising? Using toughened glass panels is simple, cost effective and can create a wow-factor in any home. Here we showcase a recent example using our bespoke glass spindle system.


Swimming Pool Fencing

Our new spigot style glass balustrade system has become popular for use around swimming pools and hot-tubs for it's clean, frameless look and ease of installation. Want more info on swimming pool fencing and floor spigot balustrades? See here for our latest example project.