Commercial and Residential Glass Installer and Manufacturer Resource

Commercial Windows: Options for Form & Function

Feb 20, 2024 10:38:45 AM / by Greg Martell

commercial window install

Whether you're working on a new build, or updating an existing space, choosing the right commercial windows for your project is essential to making the right impression.

Several types of commercial glass with differing functionality are available, so how do you choose which combination fits your project best? 

From safety glass to energy-efficient options, to stylish designs that can enhance the aesthetic of your build, we'll walk you through everything you need to know about choosing commercial windows.

Safety Glass Options for Commercial Windows

While glass may not be the first material that comes to mind in situations where protection is paramount, safety glass ensures premises remain safe and secure.

When it comes to safety glass options for commercial-grade windows, two types stand out: 

Tempered Glass

When working on a commercial project, you may be required to use tempered glass, or toughened glass. Common places it’s required include:

  • Doors
  • Near doors
  • Windows
  • Guardrails and railing
  • Wet locations
  • Near stairs and ramps
  • Shower enclosures

In the tempering process, regular glass is heated over 1000°F, then rapidly cooled, creating tension in the glass’s center and compression in its surface. Tempering makes glass up to 5x stronger.

Moreover, tempered glass is less hazardous in case of accidents. Unlike regular glass that fragments into unsafe, jagged shards, tempered glass crumbles into small, pebble-like pieces

Laminated Glass

Laminated glass panes comprise a clear layer of plastic (usually polyvinyl butyral – PVB) bonded by heat between at least two plies of glass. 

Ever wonder what type of glass is used for storefronts? In security applications, laminated glass provides the benefit of time. Since its pieces remain bonded together even if broken, it’s challenging to create openings in it quickly. 

By adding layers, laminated safety glass can stand up against heavy impacts while reducing the amount of outside noise entering a building. With an additional polycarbonate layer, it can even become bulletproof.

In addition to being strong, laminated glass is safe. If it does break, the middle layer will hold the pieces together, ensuring that there are no sharp shards that could cause injuries to anyone nearby.

Commercial windows have the best of both worlds – a new trend in glass manufacturing is creating laminated glass pieces using tempered glass panes. Combining both types gives you the strength of tempered glass and the protection from shards that laminated glass provides. 

Guide to partnering with a commercial glass company

Insulated Glass Unit Windows for Energy Efficiency

Did you know that heating and cooling costs make up roughly half of a building’s energy budget, and heat gain and loss through windows account for up to 30% of residential heating and cooling? It makes sense to find ways to cut energy use by selecting the right commercial windows.

Investing in insulated glass units (IGUs) is one of the best – and easiest – ways to improve a property's energy efficiency. 

An IGU is made with multiple panes of glass separated by a spacer, filled with air or inert gas, and sealed. The gas creates an insulating layer that diffuses heat transfer both into and out of the windows. 

Note: The benefits of IGU won't be realized unless all the windows in a facility or home are either double- or triple-pane. This creates a secure building envelope for maximum efficiency.

Several commercial window solutions exist to help insulate a building: 

  • Double-pane IGU – Consists of two panels of glass
  • Triple-pane IGU – Features three glass panels, increasing insulation, noise reduction, and strength
  • Low-e IGU – Made by first applying one or more ultra-thin coatings of ultraviolet ray-reflecting metal to a glass pane. They decrease solar heat gain coefficient – the amount of solar radiation entering a space through the glass and released inside as heat


Laminated Glass IGU Windows

It’s possible to achieve security and savings with laminated glass IGUs. Manufactured with a laminated glass exterior-facing layer, or “outboard,” they meet standards for both safety and energy efficiency.

While combining the two manufacturing processes leads to a higher cost overall, it also provides huge gains in: 

  • Energy savings – Over time, laminated glass IGUs pay for themselves.
  • Safety insurance – The investment in impact resistance pays off in inclement weather and attempted thefts.
  • Acoustic peace – All those layers of glass create a sound barrier, protecting a space from noise pollution.
  • UV protection – Whether it’s to protect merchandise, property, or people, the interlayer dramatically reduces exposure to the sun’s rays.


Additional Considerations for IGU Windows

Vet your vendor: High-quality seals on windows are key to boosting energy efficiency and reducing noise. Poorly constructed seals can cause problems like early failure, affecting the window's performance. 

Watch your weight: Some IGU windows are not available in every structure. Due to the weight of the extra glass -- the balance can be inadequate for the window unit. If a house or business is built with a single pane in mind (or double-paned window in the case of upgrading to triple-paned), often it’s unable to accommodate a heavier and thicker window added in post-construction.

For every project, there’s an ideal window type. It's crucial to collaborate with a trusted glass fabricator and manufacturer for a better window solution and fewer defects. Sharing as many details as possible will help your glass vendor provide their expertise in making sure your selection meets the demands of its intended use. 


See how New Angle Beveling can take your commercial window project to the next level: 


Commercial Window Add-Ons

When it comes to finishing your commercial windows, muntins stand out for form and function. They are a gridwork pattern in a window or glass that gives the illusion it’s made from multiple smaller panes. 

Made of flat or contoured aluminum pieces, they add sophistication to modern construction and give a subtle, yet polished finish to a space. 

Not only do muntins enhance a building's architecture, but they also help a restoration project pay homage to its original construction era. They serve an important role in both creating and restoring the finest-quality buildings. 


Your Custom Commercial Window Project

No matter your commercial window requirements, keeping the following in mind will help the face of your remodel or new build give the right impression: 

  • Choose your glass type
  • Will it be IGU?
  • Remember finishing options

Whether you want the protection of safety glass, the efficiency of IGU, the aesthetic of muntins, or the functionality of screens, find a glass manufacturer with the right experience and expertise to make your windows fit your needs.

Need More Information?

The right glass makes all the difference for your commercial windows. Download our catalog to see what we offer:

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This blog was originally written on June 9, 2023, and was updated on February 20, 2024.

Written by Greg Martell