Glass As a Building Material
Glass Building Material is a mixture of raw materials like silica, sodium potassium carbonate, lime or lead oxide, and manganese oxide which are grounded, sieved and mixed in specific proportions to make glass.
Glass Building Material has unique properties as a transparent glazing material in the construction industry. It has various architectural applications in doors, windows, partitions, etc.
What Is Glass?
Glass Building Material is one of the oldest & multifaceted materials utilized in the building industry. Glass has been used to enhance the aesthetic view of structure and is fascinating material ever since it was discovered
It is an open hard substance created by giving heat to sand or quartz, glass forms an inorganic, transparent, or translucent material which can be molded into any shape.
It is a transparent glazing material, providing the architect’s new designs and possibilities to enhance the look and features of the building.
Glass Building Material adds beauty & elegance to the look and feel of the structure, it is one of the most versatile materials to be used in the construction industry.
Types of Glass Used In Construction
There are 11 types of glass used in construction industries,
- Sheet or Flat Glass
- Float Glass
- Laminated Glass
- Shatterproof Glass
- Energy-efficient Glass
- Wired Glass
- Tinted Glass
- Toughened Glass
- Chromatic Glass
- Extra-clean / Self-cleaning Glass
- Glass Blocks
1. Sheet or Flat Glass Building Material
Sheet glass is produced by having molten glass pass through the rollers to manufacture a nearly flat finish.
Sheet glass can be cut via a glass cutter and no special equipment is needed. It’s generally available in the market in a range of standard sizes/thicknesses.
Due to the comparatively low cost of this glass and its lack of distortion, flat glass is mainly used in glazing greenhouses and where visual distortion isn’t an issue as opposed to domestic windows, etc.
2. Float Glass Building Material
Float glass is made from sodium silicate and calcium silicate, it is also known as soda-lime glass.
The “Float” name suggests the method used to manufacture it, where the molten glass is floated onto a bed of molten tin. This gives us flat, clear, distortion-free glass.
Float glass can be cut by utilizing a glass cutter without a need for special equipment.
It is available in thicknesses ranging from 2mm to 20mm, with a weight ranging from 6 to 36 kg/m2.
The functions of this type of glass include fixed & opening windows above waist height, shop fronts, as well as in public places.
As the name refers, this glass comprises layers of ordinary glass bonded by a transparent, flexible material. As it is a sandwich made up of two or more sheets of glass.
This type of glass is commonly UV and soundproof, which explains its applications in the construction of bridges and aquariums. It is mostly the best suited for making glass canopies as it can reduce harmful rays.
This glass comprising of 2 sheets of toughened glass and a laminate in the middle portion. This is typically 6mm toughened/2.28mm laminate/6mm toughened.
4. Shatterproof Glass
- Shatterproof glass is a type of glass that is resistant to shattering. In other words, it doesn’t break into pieces in the event of destruction.
- Making up of shatterproof glass includes the addition of a plastic polyvinyl butyral resin to prevent it from forming sharp pieces.
- It is commonly used in windows, floors, and skylights.
5. Energy-efficient Glass
This type of glass building material is manufactured by glazing float glass with a special thin coating on one side.
This glazing allows solar energy to pass through in only one direction while minimizing the transfer of thermal energy in the other direction.
6. Wired Glass Building Material
Wired glass building material has a wire mesh provided in the middle portion of the structure of the glass.
The main objective of the wire is to hold the glass together in the event of cracking or breaking, however, it doesn’t stop the glass from forming sharp pieces when broken.
Wired glass is available as clear or obscured, wired glass is generally used in more industrial areas or structures such as garages.
7. Tinted Glass Building Material
Tinted glass building material is simply colored glass. A certain type of ion is added to the normal glass mix to produce colored glass.
In tinted glass, color doesn’t affect the properties of the glass.
For example, iron oxide gives green and Sulphur gives blue color shades in glass manufacturing.
8. Toughened Glass
Toughened glass is used extensively throughout the industry for its ability to resist breaking, also called safety or tempered glass.
If it breaks, it does so into much smaller called ‘safer’ pieces as opposed to large shards (like float glass)
Toughened glass is typically used in home interiors such as the kitchen (for its heat resistance), shower screens, glass balustrades, and swimming pool fencing.
It can also be utilized in laminated panels where extra safety precautions should be taken.
9. Chromatic Glass
- This type of glass is utilized in ICUs & meeting rooms, chromatic glass can control the transparent efficiency to protect the interior from daylight.
- Chromatic glass has maybe electric lamination(electrochromic), thermos-chromatic (heat-sensitive lamination), or photochromic (has light-sensitive lamination).
10. Extra-clean / Self-cleaning Glass
Self-cleaning glass is both photocatalytic & hydrophobic.
These two unique properties make it stain-proof, resulting in an attractive appearance and easy maintenance.
11. Glass Blocks
Glass blocks or Hollow glass wall blocks are manufactured as two separate halves and, while the glass is still molten, these two pieces are pressed together and annealed.
The resulting glass block will have a partial vacuum at the hollow center.
Hollow glass wall blocks or Glass bricks usually provide visual obscuration while admitting light from the outside of the room.
Properties of Glass
Glass has 5 main engineering properties due to which utilization of glass has become vast in construction industries;
Transparency is the main and primary engineering property of glass that allows us to see through it. Due to this property glass can be transparent from both sides or from one side only and the other side acts like a mirror.
Work-ability and Recycle Property
Glass has superior workability as it can be molded into countless shapes or blown during melting. Also, any type of glass can be 100% recyclable and used as a raw material in construction.
Glass’s strength is measured by its modulus of rupture value. Glass is generally brittle or tends to break easily but we can make it stronger by adding admixtures and laminates.
This property of glass refers to the visible fraction of light passing through the glass.
This represents how much heat is transferred through the glass. Insulated glass units provide a low U value.
Advantages of Glass
The following are major advantages of glass,
1. Transparency Is Good
Glass is a unique transparent material that allows light to pass through it so that the objects behind the glass are visible clearly.
This property of glass allows you to connect with the outer world visually, even when the door and windows are closed, it enables the light to flow in. Thus, it saves energy and reduces electricity bills.
2. Dust-proof and Waterproof
Glass has a glossy and smooth surface, so it becomes dustproof and can be cleaned efficiently. Unlike other materials, it is easy to maintain.
Another advantage is, it is waterproof. Due to such dual advantageous benefits of glass as the dustproof & waterproof material, it is mostly preferred in areas often clad with dust and sand in the air.
3. Color Availability
Glass is available in a wide range of colors, and when we combine the glass sheet in laminated or insulated units, it changes color and enhances the beauty of its appearance.
Laminated glass can be made with a wide range of colored interlayers to provide exceptional lighting effects.
4. Aesthetically Appealing
Glass enables an ideal way to show off a product aesthetically. The glassy effect it can make the structure look more stunning, and sophisticated and adds beauty to the building.
The other benefits we can gain from glass recycling are, energy can be saved, it is cost-effective, it reduces water pollution and air pollution to a certain extent and it also conserves natural resources, etc.
Glass material is 100% recyclable, and it does not degrade during the recycling process. Thus, it can be recycled for more time without compromising on quality or purity.
6. UV Stable
Glass is UV stable since it is not affected by ultraviolet radiation and hence cracks, discoloration or disintegration will not occur.
7. Weather and Rust resistant
Among all of the materials utilized in building, glass is anti-corrosive material, and only under certain conditions, the glass is chemically attacked.
Glass is fully weather resistant. It can give greater support against the effects of the wind, rain, or the sun and can retain its appearance and integrity in most of the given conditions.
8. Easily Molded
Glass building material is a transparent, hard material that can be easily molded into desired shapes. It is manufactured by the application of heat into the sand.
So, glass can be drawn and pressed to any desired shape and thus used for general glazing purposes in buildings, shop fronts, building doors, windows, and workshops.
9. Insulator of Electricity
Glass building material is an excellent insulator. It does not readily conduct electricity. It makes sure that you are safe from any electrical hazards.
Due to these unique and advantageous properties, glass can be used for the formation of ceiling lights, decorating wall lights, and various other electrical appliances.
Disadvantages of Glass
The following are major cons of glass,
1. Cost Is High
The manufacturing of glass is a highly energy-consuming process due to the high temperatures required for processing the raw materials.
Using glass in a building increases the total cost of security & privacy because of the transparency that it offers.
2. Glass Is a Brittleness
Glass is a stiff, rigid, and brittle material. When glass is subjected to stress, it fails/breaks without any significant strain. Cracked pieces of glass may be very sharp, and the chances of injury to humans become very high.
3. Impact Resistant Is Low
The Glass is less resistant against impact load, so the capability of the glass to withstand an immediately applied load is very poor. It will immediately break under impact.
4. Corrosion Due To Alkali Solution
The Glass is affected by alkalis ions. Alkali solution dilutes a glass surface, and if the supply of alkali is more, this type of corrosion takes place at a uniform rate.
5. Unsafe For Earthquake-prone Areas
Structures that are located in earthquake-prone areas require to be specially designed to take horizontal loads and movements. Material of glass is more brittle than other materials, hence it tends to break or collapse quickly.
6. Maintenance Cost Is High
In more dust-prone regions & humid areas, dust particles will stick to the glass surface and hence it will not only look dirty and shabby but the internal lighting, as well as transparency, will be poor.
What is self-cleaning glass?
Self-cleaning glass has a special coating that breaks down organic dirt and uses rainwater to wash away the residues. It reduces the need for manual cleaning and is commonly used in hard-to-reach areas such as skylights and high-rise windows.
What is reflective glass?
Reflective glass, also known as mirrored glass, has a metallic coating that reflects a significant amount of light and heat. It is often used in buildings to control solar heat gain, reduce glare, and enhance privacy.
What are the properties of glass?
Properties of glass include transparency, high compressive strength, low tensile strength, brittleness, chemical inertness, thermal insulation, electrical insulation, and the ability to transmit, absorb, or reflect light.
What is float glass?
Float glass is a type of glass produced by floating molten glass on a bed of molten metal, typically tin. It is widely used in architectural applications due to its high clarity and uniform thickness.
What is tempered glass?
Tempered glass is a safety glass that is heat-treated to increase its strength. It is resistant to breakage and when it does break, it shatters into small, less dangerous fragments.
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