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24 July 2015 Published in Window Cleaning Written by  Nat

Glass Types and Window Cleaning

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  • Float Glass
  • Laminated Glass
  • Toughened Glass
  • Double Glazing
  • Coated Glass
  • Textured or Patterned Glass
  • Hydrophilic/Hydrophobic Glass

Windows are constructed from many types of glass, we'll have a look at each type and what you should consider when cleaning it.

Float Glass

Float glass is the most common glass type. It's cheaper and usually very flat and therefor provides good optical clarity. It's also easy to clean meaning heavy duty grime such as paint and other building materials can be easily removed. Float glass is often the initial product that other forms of glass are made from.

Float glass does tend to break into very sharp shards if damaged.

Laminated Glass

Strong but easy to clean, laminated glass is constructed from a sandwich of PVB or Polyurethane bonded to a layer of float glass either side. It's safe and strong, it won't shatter into shards and it's easy to clean. The internal layer may include a tint with UV protection properties.

Toughened Glass

Security and sliding doors are often made from this form of glass. Toughened glass is constructed by heating a sheet of float glass, its surface is then rapidly cooled while the inner glass area remains hot which gives the glass sheet tensile strength. Sometimes the toughening process produces tiny 'pimples' in the glass surface, particularly on one side. This means if a razor blade is used to remove paint or concrete it may knock the tiny glass 'pimple' off and cause a fine scratch.

Toughened glass is very strong but it can be difficult to clean if paint, concrete or other materials have adhered to the surface. Care needs to be taken when removing these materials or the glass can easily be scratched by a non professional.

If a sheet of toughened glass is broken it will shatter into very small peices rather than dangerous shards.

Double Glazing

Two layers of glass are separated by a spacer leaving a gap between, the gap is filled with either air or gas to provide insulation and reduce outside sounds.

Double glazing is an excellent product but I've seen many marks on the surface between the two sheets of glass which drives the client crazy as there's no way to remove it!

Double glazing can be constructed using a variety of glass types, in my experience the most common is float glass which means it's generally easy to clean.

Coated Glass

Usually made from laminated glass with a coating applied to one side. The coating gives many benefits similar to double glazing but at less cost. Many coated glass windows, such as Comfort Plus from Viridian, must be glazed with the coating facing the inside of the building (I've seen many examples of the window installed the wrong way round, meaning the coating is on the outside and exposed to the weather).

Coated glass can be very difficult to clean and great care must be taken during the building process to keep the coating free of building grime. Even when perfectly clean, coated glass can appear cloudy or hazy in sunlight (see Viridian Comfort Plus website).

In recent years coated glass has made it's way into many homes and commercial properties in and around Hobart.

Textured/Patterned Glass

Textured glass is produced by passing heated glass between two textured rollers which then imprints on the glass surface. This form of glass is often used in bathrooom or toilet windows or areas where privacy is required.

It can be tricky to clean if dirt is lodged in the textured areas as a washer and squeegee will not remove it. If possible I use a water fed brush on the textured side which easily dislodges the dirt and then rinses the surface with pure water and dries perfectly clean.

Hydrophobic/Hydrophilic Glass

This describes how water acts on the surface of the window and can be any glass type or construction. Hydrophobic glass means water will bead and run away and not 'sheet' when running down. When water runs down hydrophilic glass it falls in 'sheets' rather than being repelled and beading separately.

There are products on the market that will cause glass to be hydrophobic and repel water quickly. Manufacturers claim this ensures your windows stay cleaner for longer. In my experience these products do not work well, are very expensive and when you do have your windows cleaned professionally the product causes unsightly smearing.

How Do I Know Which Glass Type I have?

The reality is, you probably have a few types of glass in your home, especially if you have a newer home.

Toughened glass usually has a manufacterer logo and glass specifications in one corner of the glass pane. Laminated glass is easily recognisable by viewing the end of the sheet, it will have three layers to it. If you're in doubt simply ask me and I'll let you know what it is and the best way to maintain it.

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Last modified on Friday, 24 July 2015 16:16