Architectural glass is a general term that refers to all types of glasses used in structures, like a house or a tall building. Automobiles, phone booths, cookware, and art installations can also benefit from using this glass. Architectural glass can be such an integral part to a structure that not only does it contribute to its aesthetic, but also to its protection. The different treatments and processes make for the different appearances and strength levels of the glass.
One of the most common and earliest types is the crown glass. It has a distinct “bullseye” appearance at the center, due to being blown inside a pipe before being flattened. This technique does not produce large sheets of glass windows, only small pieces. It is, nevertheless, very decorative, especially when used in windows, where the bulges in the middle create twisted shapes of the images seen through it; the distortion can also give a bit of privacy to the people inside the house. England’s Canterbury Cathedral features this architectural glass as the canvass for its stained glass windows.
Another architectural glass commonly seen in churches is the rolled plate glass. It is thick and usually features small random patterns like in a collage. While the glass is still hot and soft, it is made to pass through rollers that contain patterns, which are then imprinted and retained on the glass after it cools. Rolled plate glass can undergo an additional lamination process to strengthen it. Compared to the crown glass, it creates a more distorted image and adds more texture when stained.
Float glass is a type of architectural glass that sports a smoother and clearer appearance. It is created by making the molten glass “float” on a molten metal, usually of tin, and other alloys that have lower melting points. This produces a glass that is consistently thick and leveled. Architectural glass such as this is commonly used on house windows, as its transparency permits more light.
When it comes to automobiles, tempered glass is widely used. This architectural glass goes through either thermal or chemical process that makes it stronger. The process also makes it safer because its broken fragments are smaller and blunter than other types of glass. Its strength and heat resistance make it a popular choice for glass walls, doors, and furniture; it can also be used for making bulletproof containers. While car windows are generally made with tempered glass, the windshield itself is made of laminated glass that prevents it from shattering.