Whilst architects, contractors and designers might well be familiar with the wide range of glazing solutions on the market, for many others, the different styles of glass design can be a bit of a minefield, particularly when it comes to using the correct terminology.
Glass has been used in construction for hundreds of years, but through technological innovation its potential has expanded exponentially - it’s no longer just a tool for use in windows and doors, it can be used as a construction material in and of itself, and there are now so many different glazing options available that it can be tricky to understand the nuances between the descriptions between different types of solutions.
For those who wish to become more fluent in the language of glazing, and more familiar with the world of architectural design, we’ve put together this guide to a few of our most popular glass solutions:
In simple terms, minimal glazing involves any glass installations (such as windows and doors) which are visually subtle. As technology and techniques have evolved in the w
orld of construction, it’s now possible to design glazing which is structurally secure whilst also being aesthetically inconspicuous. Minimal glazing factors in not just the glass panel itself, but also the frame, and the overall appearance of an installation or product.
Relatively recent developments in construction techniques means that most modern glazing makes use of ‘float glass’ - a technique developed in 1959 to create even, flat glass panels. Before this, the relatively unstable nature of glass production meant that the surface wasn’t uniform, and therefore had to be supported within a sturdy - and often visually unappealing - wooden frame.
Even today, with double glazing (which typically requires a thicker frame), the development of toughened glass through techniques such as heat-strengthening and laminating has changed the game. Frames no longer need to be bulky - instead, they can be minimal and used to ‘highlight’ other elements in a design or building.
By using techniques such as silicone bonding, which effectively eliminates the need for a solid frame between two glass panels, an almost completely uninterrupted effect can be achieved. This brings us onto our next glazing solution...
Frameless glazing is exactly as it sounds - a seamless glazing option which has no obvious frame around the perimeter. Frameless glazing allows you to create a ‘wall of glass’ and, as fixing and joins are kept to a minimum, it provides the perfect unspoilt view.
Frameless glazing becomes possible using techniques such as the aforementioned silicone bonding and clever detailing - hiding framework within the surrounding structure. With frameless walls, doors and windows, a seamless link is created between the inside and outside, allowing interior designers and architects to draw upon the outside world as a visual stimulus and an integral part of their design, creating a sense of flow between the indoors and outdoors.
Frameless glass walls primarily create a sense of horizontal continuity. While a simple window might offer a ‘framed’ view of a particular exterior feature, frameless and expansive glazed walls create the illusion that an interior space extends beyond its actual confines. The beauty of a frameless glass wall is that it can look effortless within any setting, traditional or modern - listed buildings with restrictions on framework and aesthetic can benefit most from frameless glazing.
Frameless glazing also lets the optimum amount of light into a room, which can have health benefits, as sunlight is proven to regulate our circadian rhythms, and boost our productivity and wellness. In terms of practicality, frameless glazing is as safe, secure and energy efficient as any other glazing solution.
Invisible corners are one of the most stunning and groundbreaking uses of minimal framing. This glazing solution is both innovative and bold, creating exceptional style within a property.
Similar to frameless glazing, invisible corners enable a sense of unpunctuated immersion within a space, whether you are inside or outside. Prior to the introduction of the invisible corner, even the most elegant glass installations were bordered by (at least) a thin frame, creating a partition within an otherwise uninterrupted view. Constructed entirely out of glass, an invisible corner does not feature any structural reminders that you are looking at, or through, the edge of a building. It connects different parts of a view, perhaps even providing a previously unseen vantage point.
The undetectable join used in an invisible corner is created by mitering the glass edges so they meet at an angle. The glass is then bonded with an imperceptibly thin layer of adhesivey. Invisible corners can be vertical or horizontal and can feature double or triple-glazing.
Switchable glass can transform from transparent to opaque and back again at the touch of a button, or the swipe of a screen. These panes of ‘intelligent glass’ can be
charged with electric currents to alter opacity, meaning that the homeowner or designer don’t have to choose between two different styles of glazing.
Designs focused on optimising the use of the space also usually require the possibility of privacy at any given time, so this glazing solution needs to offer flexibility and user-friendly simplicity. To that end, timers can usually be used alongside switchable glass, which can be set to switch glazed windows, doors, and panels when leaving or returning home, for privacy and safety.
Whether the switchable glass is being used for privacy, aesthetics, or safety, the installation of this glazing solution means that it can go from being crystal clear one moment, to opaque the next. This adds an innovative and luxurious quality to a project, and also allows complete control over the look, security and privacy of the property.
As the inventors of structural glass, this glazing solution is the jewel in Cantifix’s crown. Simply put, structural glazing is a term used to describe glass that is integral to the structure of a building: It involves glass panels which bear some weight in the structure. Structural glazing can be used to create huge glass installations with minimal obstruction.
It can bear weight both horizontally and vertically, and can be bonded using everything from minimal glass beams and supports to heavy-duty steel struts, meaning it can be constructed on almost any scale, with almost any aesthetic imaginable. Everything from frameless sliding glass doors to load-bearing high-strength glazed floors can be created.
There are many benefits to using structural glass within a building, and perhaps the most compelling is the increase of natural light. Structural glazing can offer a greater coherence and connection between the natural world and our buildings, while still protecting us from the elements. Use of glass coatings and films allows sunlight to flood a home without overheating in the daytime and the subsequent loss of heat at night.
In fact, advances in technology mean that insulation is actually one of the great advantages of using structural glass. Rather than creating a greenhouse-like effect, thermal glass technology exploits “solar gain” which can warm glass spaces to create a stable and comfortable ambient temperature which is maintained throughout variations in weather and the time of day.
The inclusion of structural glazing also adds an element of modern luxury to any home - and there is an advantage in that it can complement older and listed buildings in a way that does not compromise any historic value. Frameless glass, in particular, can be added to or within a building without obscuring original features.
Crittall-style doors have become one of the most lusted-after designs in glazing recently. Aesthetically, they offer a strong design prospect thanks to their celebrated grid-like frames. Crittall is often used to describe generic, metal, grid-framed doors, windows or internal screens in everyday parlance.
However, Crittall is a registered trademark, so technically only those manufactured by the company itself can actually be called Crittall. Through the renewed popularity of this brand over recent years, many inspired similar styles have now entered the marketplace, offering steel, bronze or aluminium windows in the iconic gridded Crittall style.
The history of steel windows has largely been industrial, so for those looking to add an industrial edge to their home, the aesthetics of Crittall-style doors are particularly effective. This design works well with both modern and traditional properties.
In summary, there is an enormous variety of glazing styles and solutions in today’s market. If you’re a homeowner, we would strongly recommend that you share a little of the load when it comes to approaching a new project, certainly initially. By enlisting the help of an expert architect, designer, or supplier, you’ll be able to work through each stage of the planning process, which will make choosing the right glazing solution far less onerous.
If in doubt, you can always opt for a more traditional route, and simply seek some inspiration. Taking a look at some of the previous projects that suppliers, architects, and designers have worked on before can be a fantastic source of ideas, which can in turn help you to decide upon the best glazing solution for you.