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    Glass is available for a wide range of different uses. However, it is important to remember that in some situations a specific type of glass is needed so always check the building regulations before buying. Examples include floor to ceiling windows which require laminated or toughened glass; and fire doors that should be fitted with wired glass or fireproof glass.

    When buying glass it is always best to get the panes cut to size by your supplier as they will be able to cut the glass far more accurately.

    Float glass

    Float glass is the standard type of glass used in single glazed windows. It acquires its name from its method of production where hot, liquid glass is floated on top of molten tin which produces a perfectly flat finish with no surface distortions. Float glass is produced in thicknesses ranging from 3mm (1/8 in) to 25mm (1 in). However, when used for windows there are three main thicknesses: 3mm (1/8 in), 4mm (5/32 in) and 6mm (1/4 in).

    Patterned glass

    Patterned glass is also called privacy glass or obscured glass. It usually has an embossed pattern or texture on one side, creating privacy without reducing the level of natural light. Primarily used to provide privacy in places such as bathrooms, patterned glass comes in a variety of tints. If you are looking to use patterned glass for a shower or bath screen, make sure it is either toughened or laminated (see below).

    Heat-efficient glass

    Heat-efficient glass refers to a double-glazed unit where two sheets of glass have an inert gas between them to provide heat and sound insulation.

    Solar-control glass

    This is a tinted glass used to reduce the heat build-up in buildings that have large expanses of glass in their design. The glass can be float, laminated or textured. Solar-control glass also reduces glare, however this is at the expense of some light. The thickness of solar-control glass ranges from 4mm (5/32 in) to 12mm (1/2 in), but generally the standard thickness for most jobs is 6mm (1/4in).

    Low-emissivity glass

    This type of glass (also known as Low-E glass) is used mostly as the inner pane of double-glazing. It has a special coating that allows heat from the sun in but prevents heat loss from the room. Low-emissivity glass allows a large amount of natural light through. The coated surface of the glass is always on the inside of the cavity. The outer pane of a double-glazed unit can be of any type of glass.

    Non-reflective glass

    Non-reflective glass is most commonly used for glazing picture frames. It has a slightly textured surface that prevents the reflections that occur in ordinary (polished) glass. Despite this textured surface, when positioned within 12mm (1/2 in) of the picture the glass appears completely transparent. Non-reflective glass is usually 2mm (1/16 in) thick.

    Etched glass

    Also known as frosted glass, etched glass is similar to patterned glass but it does not distort outlines. The glass can be 'etched' using different methods including sandblasting and acid to produce an attractive pattern or design. The effect produced on standard clear glass by etching is best described as a frosted grey, but this process can be used on tinted glass too. Today, etched glass is used mainly in the restoration of old buildings.

    Mirror glass

    As its name suggests this type of glass is used to make household mirrors. It is made by taking float glass and performing a process called silvering, where a reflective layer is applied to back of the glass.

    Self-cleaning glass

    A microscopically thin photocatalytic coating is applied to the exterior surface of normal float glass, which reacts with the sun's ultra violet rays to gradually breakdown organic dirt. Self-cleaning glass also has hydrophilic properties which means rainwater will run down the pane in sheets, washing away the dirt.

    Safety glass

    This is glass that has been strengthened and reinforced in some way for safety purposes. Safety glass is often used where the pane is either in a vulnerable position or is particularly large. Common uses for safety glass include glazed doors, low-level windows and shower screens. The four main types of safety glass are:

    • Toughened
    • Laminated
    • Wired
    • Fire resistant glass

    Toughened glass

    Toughened glass is simply ordinary glass that has been heat-treated to give it added strength. Also known as tempered glass, it shatters into small, relatively harmless particles when broken and therefore is used in glazed doors. Toughened glass cannot be cut, so any holes for screw fixings need to be made before the hardening process

    Laminated glass

    Laminated glass consists of a sheet of transparent, tear-resistant plastic film that is bonded between two sheets of glass. This produces an extremely strong glass product. Should the glass break the plastic will prevent the glass shattering by absorbing much of the shock. When the glass does break, the plastic stops it from spreading. The plastic sheet will also absorb up to 99 per cent of damaging ultra-violet rays. This will stop furniture, carpets and clothing from fading in the sunlight.

    Laminated glass can be clear, tinted or patterned. Glass thicknesses range from 4mm (5/32in) up to 12mm (1/2in), depending on the particular type.

    Wired glass

    Wired glass is widely used in fire doors and is also referred to as Georgian wired glass. The glass is 6mm (1/4 in) thick and has a wire mesh inserted during production. Although it has the same strength as standard glass, even though the glass may crack the wire mesh holds the glass shards together stopping flames and smoke spreading. Laminated fire glass is also available but is far more expensive than the wired version.

    Fire resistant glass

    A range of clear fire-resistant glass with no wire strengthening is also available. Different levels of protection are offered which is measured in defined time periods - 30, 60, 90, 120 and 180 minutes. Fire-resistant glass must always be specified as part of an approved glazing system and installed by specialists to ensure optimum fire performance is achieved.

    Glazing putty

    Linseed oil-base putty used for securing glass panes in wooden and metal window frames. Glazing putty can be painted over.

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