Interior glass FAQ
FAQs by product
What are my size limitations for the glass or opening?
To determine the largest glass size possible for an interior application, consider building logistics, codes and product type. Building logistics, such as the size of the freight elevator, often present the biggest limiting factor for glass sizes in interior applications. "[Our systems] can accommodate a glass panel that weighs up to almost 400 pounds. However, the issue is how you're going to get it into the building. The size of the glass is determined by logistics, not by the [glazing] systems," says Paul Witherby, business development manager, Klein USA.
Building codes for interior glass vary depending on application. Consider an office entry, where "people often want their glass entries to go 8 feet to 10 feet in height," says Brad Thurman, sales and marketing manager, Dorma Glas. "We look at the situation and the application to consider factors like: how often will the door system be used. From there, we consult the codes. ... Most of the time, office heights are limited to 9 feet, unless you use a glass transom over the door to reach the 10-foot mark."
Codes also closely dictate opening size for protective glass products on the interior, adds Tim Nass, vice president of national sales for Safti First. "Opening size all depends on the
product. [Fire-protective] products have limitations on the amount and overall opening size due to their performance limitations dictated by code. [Fire-resistive] products have no such limitations," he says.
Designers can work with their glass supplier to determine the best glass and opening dimensions given the aesthetic and performance demands. Typically, interior glass panels for Modernfold systems are limited to 300 pounds to 350 pounds, says Scott Ladd, marketing manager. "The taller the opening, the narrower each panel would need to be," he says. "If height is not a concern, but rather you're interested in decreasing the number of panels, or seams between pieces of glass, the use of ½-inch glass allows for wider panels."
How do I achieve the best acoustical performance?
The right interior glass systems can achieve sound transmission levels suited to even more sensitive environments, such as law offices. "There are a tremendous amount of products that
can provide soundproofing," Thurman says. "There are laminated glass products and products that are separated by an airspace, for example."
"We have made acoustic panels with glass," says Joseph Jaroff, owner of Jaroff Design & Mison Concepts Inc. "What you get is something totally clear, with the sound transmission
rate the same as insulated drywall."
"Although actual results can vary due to design and building variables, a laminate glass wall using an acoustical interlayer can provide a [Sound Transmission Class] of 39 in a single laminated unit. Using this in combination with an insulated glass unit will result in an even higher STC," says Diane Turnwall, director, interiors, Guardian Industries. According to STCRatings.com, an STC of 39 is equal to a solid core wood door—loud talk can be heard but not easily understood.
Designers should also consider the other materials used in the space. "Glass reflects sound, and designers may want to choose other materials, such as ceiling tiles, in the environment to absorb sounds," Witherby says. "Doing this can accomplish some of that acoustical value."
What new glass options are available?
"The most common question I get is, 'what's available in the market?'," Jaroff says. New interior glass products are continuously coming to market, offering an ever-growing number of
options to designers. "With glass, we can laminate in fabrics, woods, meshes; we can print on interlayers, and embed lights into glass; and printing on glass is really starting to take off," he says.
"One's imagination is the only limitation to what is possible," Turnwall says.
Industry representatives recommend that architects discuss their performance and aesthetic goals with their glass supplier to determine the best product options. "When it comes to those types of elements, it's important to know the applications, to know how often the space
is going to be used, and, last but not least, to know their budget," Thurman says.
Jaroff adds, "An architect has to be attuned to so many different materials. If they approach me with the aesthetic and program requirements, I can help them with the colors, textures, techniques. We work with designers to find out what they want to achieve. Is this glass going to be in harm's way, or will it be an interior office partition? Do they want translucency, textured glass? We find out what it is they want to achieve within the space, and then we bring out the best options."
What are my options for visual privacy?
Privacy is a top concern for owners and designers when dealing with interior glass, particularly when glass is being used in place of more traditional walls. Owners and designers want to capture the lighting benefits of glass, "but limit the sense that occupants are in a fish bowl," Turnwall says.
Based on privacy requirements and budget, the glass industry has numerous solutions, from dynamic products that can shift from clear to opaque to an array of decorative glass products that can obscure views.
Satin-etched, painted, digitally printed and textured products are some examples of privacy solutions. Architects can also look to "laminated products that provide different degrees of opacity and color options," Thurman says. Many designers choose glass that obstructs views of a particular area in a room, such as clear glass with a decorative horizontal band that would block views at desk level, Witherby says.
Architects can get creative with their privacy solutions, Jaroff says. "The whole area of interior glass is really opening up in terms of the range of products available." One glass product targeted toward the privacy market is a laminated product that "makes anything beyond 21
degrees out of focus to a viewer," he says.
Other designers might prefer dynamic solutions. For example, Guardian offers a switchable privacy glass that transitions from transparent to opaque at the flip of a switch, allowing a user to "create privacy when it is needed, but provide daylighting the remainder of the time," Turnwall says. Modernfold offers an alternative dynamic solution with its fully automated
electrically operated blinds integrated within its Moveo panels, Ladd says.