Unbreakable glass is useful for certain situations, but not for every window in your home. So, why do people use so-called ‘unbreakable’ glass in the first place? Well, the first answer is obviously to stop intruders coming into your house, but when to use and when not to is anther question.
Unbreakable glass costs more than regular glass. It has to be strengthened by altering the composition of the glass to make it more resistant to a casual attempt to smash it. Because it’s custom designed for that specific purpose, it may not be as effective in other ways, such as being easy to cut into specific sizes.
When is unbreakable glass the right choice?
If you look at the front door of your house, you might small windows close to the door handle, or to the unlocking mechanism for the door. That proximity might make it easier to open the door, should the small side window be broken or removed. Just like in most motor cars which can be unlocked by simply breaking the small, vent window, the front door of a house might be easily opened in the same way. So, we have to protect the window from being broken or removed. It’s usually only necessary to have a few unbreakable window panes to make the front door secure. Or, at least, to make your home difficult enough to get into that any would-be intruder moves on to the next opportunity.
Today, many homes are also protected by a security system with a monitoring service. It appears to be more and more challenging for any burglar to make a living these days. Some homes will set off an ear-piercing alarm if sensors are triggered, and send a signal to the monitoring company’s office. Before minutes pass, the cops could be on their way. Other alarm systems use cameras, recording what’s happening in many areas of the house. Later, the recordings can be pored over in an attempt to identify the intruders, or simply to see what was happening while the residents were away.
Unbreakable glass, therefore, is good where a window is close to an interior locking mechanism in your home or office. Otherwise, it’s likely a better choice to use regular glass because of its price competitiveness, availability, and choice of other options.
What glass choices are available?
Like so many other product technologies, glass has come a long way, too. Did you know that for most of the history of glass making, glass was actually a liquid? Glass has been used for hundreds of years, and over that time, many panes of glasses in very old building – panes which have existed for over a century – have had the time to sag downwards a little. In very old glass panes, therefore, the glass is thicker at the bottom of the pane than on the top. It’s not often a problem, but eventually, the glass will be too thin at the top to be effective, will become increasingly brittle, and will need to be replaced.
It’s also likely that, for other reasons, many of these ancient windows would have to have been replaced long ago. It’s pretty rare to see a 150-year-old window pane anywhere in the world. Usually, the window frame itself – or even the whole house – needs to be replaced in its entirety. At that point, all of the panes of glass are replaced with new, more effective solutions. For one, double or triple glazing is installed – that’s two and three parallel, separated layers of glass instead of a single pane – within a factory-sealed unit, that offers a number of advantages over what was available a couple of generations ago.
Single, double and triple glazed windows
The single biggest advantage to having multiple layers of glass within a single window until is to keep the warmth in. Single pane windows were notorious for raising the heating bill of the typical home because that one pane of glass was simply heating the outside air. Inside, you could see a lot of condensation because the window was cold, too cold for the moisture in the air to remain gaseous and so, it would condense on the much colder glass, on the interior side of the pane. Double and triple glazing kept far more of the home’s heat inside the home.
Double and triple glazing available today keeps far more of the precious heat inside the home. The inside pane may remain close to the ambient temperature of the room, the exterior pane can take the exterior temperature, and the gap between the two panes presents a buffer of gas that resists the transfers of heat from one side to the other. It also works in reverse, by the way, if you have cool air-conditioned space on the inside, and a roasting hot day outside.
Triple glazing offers another layer of protection. Although double glazing is often enough of an investment to suffice, triple glazing can help in extreme situations where that extra level of insulation is required. It might be in a particularly harsh, north-facing side of your house or business, or you might need the next best feature of multiple layered windows in general: noise reduction.
Noise reduction qualities of double and triple glazed windows
I remember, many years ago, a house I was renting got its front windows replaced. The housed faced on to an average suburban street, but with a small problem. Rush hour traffic in the evening (but not in the morning, for some reason) was terribly noisy, and the landlord decided to install triple glazed windows in the house, since they needed to be replaced anyway. The entire job was done in a single day, so when I arrived home at 4pm after my early shift, I could tell immediately there was a vast improvement. I could not hear any traffic noise whatsoever. One day earlier, I could hear ever darn vehicle that passed my home, to nothing except the very occasional car horn, or emergency vehicle’s siren. It was so effective, it felt like I was living in the country. The only negative aspect of it was, I could now hear even the slightest noise in the house, including a clock I never noticed made a ticking sound! Still, the triple glazing made a huge improvement in life quality. From that experience, I would always try to opt for triple glazing over double glazing, if I could afford it.
More next week!