What is Glass Block Windows?

January 6, 2011 by: admin

Glass block windows are an architectural feature used in homes and businesses. Made up of 8-by-8 inch blocks, they are designed to fit within a typical masonry wall. They can be used on the exterior and interior of a building, as a window and a light source. The main function of these windows is to provide a light source and create a feeling of openness in a space while maintaining an element of privacy that traditional windows do not provide.

The earliest glass block windows were used during the late 19th century as a means of allowing light into factories and manufacturing plants. Unlike traditional windows, the glass blocks could offer a measure of security and privacy, and were much more durable. As the Art Deco phase took over, homeowners began using them in their homes, both on interior and exterior applications. Today, these blocks are most popular for spaces like basements and parking garages, where security is a concern.

Glass block windows typically come in 8-by-8 inch units so that they can be laid with traditional CMU blocks. They are hollow, though still surprisingly heavy. Modern units are made of acrylics and are more lightweight. While traditional glass blocks are laid individually, like bricks, there are models available that actually come pre-assembled in window form. These can be installed much in the same way as a traditional window and don’t require any specific masonry skills.

The most common benefit of glass block windows is the measure of privacy they offer while still permitting light to enter a room. Also, because they are much thicker than most glass, they are the most durable type of window available. They are incredibly resistant to vandalism and intentional breakage, making them a safe and secure choice, even for unmonitored areas. Because they are non-porous, they are also a great alternative to traditional ceramic block in clean room applications.

There are many different options to consider when choosing glass block windows. Materials range from solid glass to hollow to acrylic, with acrylic being the least heavy and most affordable. Tinted versions are also available, and different textures and finishes are offered as well. For homes, patterned glass blocks are a great decorative option, while blocks with stippled surfaces help offer additional privacy for commercial applications.

One benefit of glass block windows that is often overlooked is their high level of energy efficiency. Because of their size and construction, these blocks have an R-value, or thermal resistance factor nearly double that of traditional glass windows. This can keep your home more comfortable and keep utility bills in check. In addition, these windows may qualify for Energy Star benefits under certain conditions.

Filed under: Tempered Glass


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