Differences Between Residential And Commercial Glass (And Why It Matters)

19 January 2017
 Categories: Construction & Contractors, Blog

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You may think that all glass is created equal. That is not really true. In fact, there are all kinds of glass, the majority of which fall under residential glass and commercial glass categories. The differences between these two main types of glass are important, because they are expected to do very different jobs. 

Residential Glass

Residential glass is meant for homes and apartment buildings. It is often thinner, more lightweight, readily transparent, and accepts various factory finishes to provide specific custom features for homeowners. It is also more easily broken than commercial glass because breaking residential glass will not result in some of the major issues that breaking commercial glass will. Many times window and door companies will double or triple the panes of glass in their products, not so much for resiliency, but to prevent heated or cooled air from flowing in and out of your house. Residential glass is rarely used in commercial settings, with the exception of office space windows.

Commercial Glass

Commercial glass is often used in factory and/or industrial settings. It is much thicker and stronger than residential glass and may be colored, heat-treated, darkened/obscured, mottled or patterned, and created from something other than sand crystals or silicon. 

Commercial glass, unlike residential glass, is used for:

  • Constructing tanks and vats that will hold large marine animals or extremely toxic/volatile chemicals
  • One-way glass for police stations and for companies that want privacy from the outside world
  • Greenhouses and florist shops
  • Production processes where viewing into a machine could damage your eyes without a small window of heat-resistant glass to look through
  • Cars and trucks (which utilize tempered glass)
  • Skylights, which, contrary to popular belief, do not use residential glass but instead use commercial glass

Even though commercial glass has more properties and features that would be ideal in residential construction, it is rarely used for residential purposes (with the exception of skylights).

Why These Differences Matter

Pricing is a big factor when choosing glass for your home. You certainly could request custom commercial window glass, but you would pay a very hefty price for it. Additionally, the commercial glass might not allow enough natural light into your home, and in the event of a fire, you would not be able to break it to get out safely. (Many commercial glasses retain and radiate heat, something you would not want to experience during a house fire). As for commercial properties, residential glass would not have enough strength to resist a baseball bat, let alone anything else for which you would use the glass.

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