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Window or door glass that’s actually shattered demands our immediate attention, but it’s easier to put off dealing with cracked, chipped, or fogged glass. No one wants the expense and hassle of replacing a whole window or door, not to mention the fact that getting one new window can lead to replacing all of them so that they match. 

If this is your situation, here’s some good news! Glass specialists can usually replace just the damaged piece of glass and restore your window or door to its original appearance and functionality. Let’s look at answers to some of the questions and concerns you might have about this process.

  • Why replace the glass instead of the whole unit?
  • Which styles of glass can be replaced?
  • Can I replace double pane window or door glass?
  • How about single pane glass – can this be replaced, too?
  • Can damaged skylight glass be replaced?
  • What are some of the ways I can customize replacement glass?
  • I have safety concerns about using glass in my door and sidelights – what are my options?
  • Once my windows are restored, what is the best way to choose updated window treatments?
  • How can I keep my new glass looking awesome?
  • What are the steps for having replacement glass installed?

Why replace the glass instead of the whole unit?

Replacement glass allows you to repair a window, patio door, front door, or sidelight rather than paying to totally replace it. Having new windows or doors put in is not only expensive, but can be disruptive to your daily routine. Replacing just the damaged glass is a simpler and more straightforward process. Replacement glass allows you to quickly restore your windows and doors with just a couple visits from a glass specialist.

Damaged glass can lead to energy loss and higher utility bills, besides the fact that it may pose a safety risk. Replacement glass means you don’t have to wait until you’re ready to replace a whole set of windows in order to conveniently deal with these issues. It’s also an environmentally friendly choice. Instead of tearing out and throwing away whole windows and doors and then buying new ones, you simply remove and replace the damaged pieces of glass and keep using everything else as it is.

Which styles of glass can be replaced

The most commonly requested replacement glass for windows and doors is clear. However, a glass company like ABC Glass & Mirror can typically help you find a match to your original glass, even if its style is different. Options include:

  • Acid-etched: An acid wash leaves glass with a “frosted” surface.
  • Patterned: Patterns and designs are integrated into the surface of the glass for a pattern you can see and touch.
  • Tinted: ABC Glass & Mirror offers gray and bronze as standard tinted glass colors.

These three types of glass, as well as the assortment of available patterns, make it easy to achieve your design goals for the window or door. 

Can I replace double pane window or door glass?

Absolutely! Double pane window or door glass is commonly referred to as an “insulated unit.” This is because the twin panes and airspace between them make the window a better insulator. An insulated unit is composed of two glass panels surrounded by a vinyl seal with a small air-filled gap between them. Your double pane glass can be replaced with this same type of product to maintain the window’s original look and energy efficiency. 

You can also keep special energy saving features or opt to introduce these into your home for the first time:

  • Low-E films can be applied to the glass so that it bounces heat back outside in the summer or helps it stay inside during the winter.
  • Argon gas can be injected into the space between the panes for a boost in insulating capabilities.
  • Triple pane glass has three panels and two airspaces, so it reduces energy loss even more. (Check with a glass specialist about whether this can be installed in your existing windows.)

Double pane windows are the most frequently used type of window. They look nice and insulate much better than the single pane units of old. With time, however, the seal around the panes can deteriorate and allow moisture into the space between the glass. The result is a fogged appearance as well as energy loss. New insulated units allow you to replace just this problematic piece while retaining the other window components.

How about single pane glass – can this be replaced, too?

Although double pane glass is more popular, single pane glass is found in older windows and doors. Sometimes new windows or doors with this style of glass are installed in period homes to preserve an authentically antique look and feel. There are also patio doors comprised of many small pieces of single pane glass installed within a framework. 

Even though they don’t insulate as well as modern products, historic windows made of wood and single pane glass are often preserved. Reasons include:

  • Rules governing historic buildings and prohibiting the replacement of original windows.
  • A homeowner’s preference for the genuine vintage windows.
  • The desire to maintain a period home’s antique qualities.
  • An appreciation for the charm and visual appeal of older windows.

Likewise, new single pane windows might be chosen when a homeowner is trying to restore an old home or when old windows absolutely must be replaced, but there’s a desire to keep the original look and feel. There are a few things you can do to optimize the performance of single pane windows. Find and block drafts around the window frame, hang heavy drapes for insulation from extreme temperatures, and address damaged pieces of glass promptly.

Fortunately, damaged single pane glass can be replaced with new glazing. ABC Glass & Mirror, for example, offers single pane replacement glass in thicknesses ranging from around 1/16” to 1/4”. Custom options are available, including:

  • Choose tempered single pane glass, which is about 4 times sturdier than annealed glass, for high-traffic or vulnerable installations such as patio doors.
  • Styles include clear, patterned, acid-etched, and gray or bronze tinted glass.
  • Low-E coatings can be applied to single pane replacement glass for enhanced energy efficiency.

Can damaged skylight glass be replaced?

Whether you’re dealing with the urgency of compromised skylight glass or simply addressing a window that’s become foggy, replacement glass is available. For overhead installations, ABC Glass & Mirror uses laminated glass. This tri-layer glass is made up of dual sheets of glass adhered to a clear vinyl interlayer. To the eye, it appears to be a single sheet of glass, but its unique makeup keeps the glass in place. Even if it gets broken, the glass remains attached to the interlayer, which is obviously very beneficial for overhead applications!

You probably use laminated glass every day – it’s used for windshields, for example – but this may be the first time you’ve needed to order it. Here are some FAQs to get you started.

Does laminated glass have to be clear, or are other styles available?

Clear laminated glass is a popular product, but additional styles are available. ABC Glass & Mirror, for example, offers laminated glass in clear, low iron (ultra-clear), white, gray, and bronze.

Is there anything I can do to increase the strength and durability of my skylight glass?

If you’re dealing with damaged skylight glass, of course you’d like to avoid this in the future. You can order laminated tempered glass which has 4-5 times the durability of standard laminated glass. Other possibilities include switching to a glass alternative such as acrylic or polycarbonate.

I’d like to have an insulated unit installed in my skylight – is this possible with laminated glass?

Definitely! Insulated skylight glass is comprised of a sheet of laminated glass, another sheet of glass, a seal around them, and an air-filled space between them. It is installed with the laminated glass facing into your home. The extra pane and airspace make it a better insulator, which reduces energy loss.

Are there any other ways to increase the energy efficiency of my skylight glass?

Yes. Low-E coatings can be applied to skylight glass to reflect heat as desired. If you choose an insulated unit, you can also have the airspace filled with Argon gas for increased insulating capabilities.

What are some of the ways I can customize replacement glass?

Replacement window and door glass can be customized in three main ways:

  • Style – clear, frosted, patterned, tinted
  • Thickness – 1/16”-1/4” 
  • Energy efficiency – Argon gas between panes (double pane only) and Low-E coatings

Replacement window and door glass is available in thicknesses ranging from 1/16” to 1/4”. To at least some extent, the structure of your window will determine the appropriate thickness. There are often a couple options that you can choose from, and a glass professional can advise you on the pros and cons of each thickness. In many cases, replacement glass is customized to match the original glass in thickness and style. However, glass is also replaced, not because it is damaged, but because a different look is desired. As mentioned earlier, you can order clear, frosted, patterned, or tinted glass and thereby customize the window to your family’s needs. 

Clear glass can be replaced with vision obscuring glass. For example, transparent windows in and around your front door may leave you feeling like you live in a fish bowl. Switching to frosted, patterned, or tinted glass gives you privacy without eliminating the natural lighting. Another application is in bathrooms. Having vision obscuring glass installed means you don’t have to hang curtains or blinds to ensure privacy. Leaving the windows bare maximizes natural lighting, which can be especially nice in a small or dark bathroom. Vision-obscuring window glass can be installed anywhere you want more privacy without the need for window treatments. On the other hand, clear glass can also take the place of patterned, frosted, or tinted glass. Perhaps you bought a home with privacy glass on some of the windows, but you prefer clear glass with curtains that can be drawn as needed. Whatever the situation, replacement glass allows you to tailor your home’s windows to your preferences.

I have safety concerns about using glass in my door and sidelights – what are my options?

Glass near your home’s entrance might raise concerns about security, especially if it’s already been broken or damaged. Normal glass can be replaced with more durable options:

  • Laminated glass – For glass that remains intact even if fractured, choose laminated glass.
  • Laminated tempered glass – Select this for the benefits of laminated glass plus the enhanced strength of tempered glass.
  • Acrylic (Plexiglas) – Acrylic is a great choice when you want the appearance of glass with even more durability than tempered glass.
  • Polycarbonate (Lexan) – Polycarbonate is the glass alternative for you if you want something virtually unbreakable with a look similar to that of actual glass.

Glaziers can give your home an entrance you’re more comfortable with by replacing the normal glass in your door and sidelights (windows beside the door) with safety glass or a glass alternative.

Once my windows are restored, what is the best way to choose updated window treatments?

As you resolve window issues with replacement glass, you might find yourself taking a closer look at your windows and how they impact your home’s décor. Sometimes we don’t notice how grimy plastic blinds have become over the years or how dated our curtains are until something makes us look at them with fresh eyes. If this is you, why not take some of the money you saved by not replacing the actual windows and use it to update your window treatments. In general, you have four categories to pick from – drapes, curtains, blinds, and shades.

In choosing the type of window treatment, you’ll want to consider your practical and aesthetic goals for the room that you’ve updated with replacement glass. Do you need to block sunlight? What about privacy? What is the room’s overall style and theme? Which type of window treatment will enhance and coordinate with this? House Beautiful’s Jessica Dailey offers 3 “do’s” and 2 “don’ts” from designer LeeAnn Baker to help with successful window treatment shopping:

Do consider practicality as well as interior design when deciding on the length of your curtains or drapes. For example, panels that puddle on the floor add a formal touch and can reduce energy loss. They might be perfect in a bedroom or living room but inconvenient in a high-traffic area.

Do use sheer curtains for a layered effect. Placing delicate curtains behind heavy drapes gives you double options for lighting and allows you to alter the window’s style at will.

Do opt for blinds when appropriate. Certain structural situations, such as dormer windows, make it impractical or impossible to install curtain rods. When the room’s physical features or lighting possibilities call for blinds, don’t hesitate to go this route.

Don’t create rooms that clash. Of course you won’t use the same window treatments throughout your home, but you do want to consider your living space as a whole rather than decorating each room as an entity unto itself. Maintaining some form of continuity among the various window treatments you choose is one aspect of this.

Don’t choose floor-length kitchen curtains. Kitchen window treatments, while attractive, should be functional and out of the way. Nice options include “café curtains…that…sit just perfectly on the windowsill” or “a Roman shade.”

How can I keep my new glass looking awesome?

Once your windows, entry door, and/or patio door have been restored with replacement glass, regular cleaning is the best way to keep them looking their best. On a weekly basis:

  • Dust the windowsill or door surfaces.
  • Spot clean the frame and hardware as needed.
  • Clean the glass using a paper towel or soft cloth and an approved cleaner.

When cleaning window or door glass, it’s best to spray the cleaner onto the cloth or paper towel rather than directly onto the glass if the unit is framed with wood. For all door and window glass, avoid using harsh or abrasive cleaning agents and scrubbing pads as these can irreparably scratch the glass. Periodically throughout the year, you’ll want to vacuum out any debris that’s accumulated between the screen and the glass and give the whole window a thorough cleaning, both inside and out (if practical).

What are the steps for having replacement glass installed?

Replacement glass for a window, skylight, sidelight, entry door, or patio door can be ordered from a custom glass shop such as ABC Glass & Mirror. If you work with ABC, we begin with a free consultation at your home or commercial site. At this meeting our estimator discusses options, answers your questions, and gathers all the data we need to work up a quote. The quote comes to you via email so you can consider it at your convenience. Once your order is placed, we fabricate and order all that’s needed and make an installation appointment. Glaziers then remove the old glass and put in the replacement glass. Call us at (703)257-7150 to learn more or to get started. Check out the video below to see what our customers have to say about our glass replacement services.

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