Glass storefront doors and windows of some sort are a must for most businesses. How else can you properly show passersby what you offer? Whether it’s double glass sliding doors and a bunch of big picture windows or a refurbished old warehouse door with paned narrow windows on each side, the commercial glass replacement you choose matters. But what kinds of industrial-grade glass do you have to choose from?

Here’s a quick rundown of the most common glass and glass-related terms you’ll find in your search for a new storefront door and window system:

Annealed Glass

Annealed glass is just your typical window glass. While it might be okay for transom windows above doors or as a visual barrier between interior spaces, it’s definitely not your best choice for storefront doors and windows. It’s easy to break, and when it does, it shatters and falls apart. Instant breach. Annealed glass is cheap; that’s about it.

Tempered Glass

Tempered glass windows are 5x stronger than their annealed glass counterparts. Great for windows that are low to the ground or on moving things like sliding glass doors, tempered glass breaks into very small pieces that don’t have sharp edges. In that way, it’s safer than annealed, but it also means that when it breaks it’s still breached. However, other advantages of tempered glass include:

  • High wind resistance
  • Better flexibility before breaking point

Laminated Glass

Laminated glass is often confused with tempered glass, but it’s different for a couple of reasons. Tempering is a treatment, but laminating is a different production method. Comprised of two panes of annealed glass sandwiching a plastic or PVB layer, laminated glass:

  • Does not shatter under high impact
  • Is UV-resistant
  • Has insulative value
  • Aids in noise proofing

Spandrel & Insulated Glass

Spandrel glass and IG spandrels aren’t meant to be see-through. You’ll see them on the outside of skyscrapers – they usually look like mirrors. Spandrel glass is good for exterior privacy without eliminating natural light on the inside. It’s great for hiding stuff, though, so maybe not the best choice for a business storefront.

Security Screen Glass

This is extra-treated laminated glass… kind of. Meant to withstand constant impact attacks (think hammers and bricks) for 1-2 minutes, this type of security glass will still present a layer of polyacrylic that will not fall away when the glass is broken, so it will take even more work to fully breach it.

Wired & Fire-Rated Glass

You’ll most often see these in healthcare facilities like inpatient wards, as well as other settings like prisons, or those little door windows between classrooms in high schools. They’re made to resist impact and slow the spread of fire. However, you can also get fire-rated glass that isn’t wired, if the look of wired glass is a deterrent. The main advantage of wired or fire-rated glass would be in a spot where you need to be up to fire code but still want to let in natural light.

Riot Glass®

Riot glass products were specifically designed to resist violent attacks – even bullets. Riot Glass® is nearly impossible to shatter, and any door or window can be retrofitted to take it because it’s technically just a film. It’s becoming increasingly popular in commercial settings as well as public and private. Other advantages of this product are:

  • More effective than board up or security grates
  • UV-resistant
  • Scratch-resistant
  • Looks just like regular storefront glass

Armored Security Glass

This glass is crazy. It was specifically designed so that things like hammers and axes just bounce right off of it. And even when the glass itself breaks, the composite core doesn’t, so even if the door or window is broken, it’s not actually breached. It can last between 5 and 15 minutes of being actively attacked.

Hurricane Glass

This is a bit of a misnomer, because for hurricane glass to be truly hurricane-resistant, the accompanying framing, hardware and glazing also need to be of a reinforced grade. Hurricane glass is specifically for high winds – both sustained and gusts – as well as high-velocity debris flying around during extreme weather. Hurricane glass is best for coastal regions, where weather events can absolutely devastate a business if its doors and windows are compromised.

There’s More to Commercial Windows than Glass

We can’t promise this list is totally comprehensive, as new, better commercial glass products emerge all the time. Plus, there are other factors like insulation, double or single pane, tinting and frosting, etc. And, as with anything, the quality of your glass door and window installation is just as important as the glass itself.

A local company specializing in storefront door and window replacement and repair will make sure the glass is properly framed, set and glazed correctly so you get the most out of the insulative value, as well as completely sealing out the elements and any curious pests. Choosing new storefront windows is kind of a whole process; ask us about it.