What is the best glass for natural light?

Author: Helen

Mar. 07, 2024

Lights & Lighting

Choosing the glass for your skylight

Imagine what it would be like to transform that dark, gloomy spare room into a bright, sun-filled retreat by day and an indoor stellar observatory by night. Now wouldn’t it be great if you could let in all that light without needing to install windows that provide your nosy next-door neighbor a clear view into the room?

The solution is simple – skylights. Now maybe you have been avoiding skylights because you heard horror stories about leaks and other problems. Admittedly, skylights can seem like a somewhat counter-intuitive concept. After all, why would you want to take a perfectly good roof and cut a hole in it?

The good news is that modern skylights are much more reliable than their original counterparts. You can have your bright natural light and a weatherproof house too. Just plan for your skylight installation and choose the skylight that is right for you.

Not sure how to choose a skylight? We have put together the necessary information on skylight types, materials, and coating options to prepare you to pick out the perfect skylight.

Ready? Let’s get started.

What conditions does your skylight need to withstand?

Before we dive into what specific types of glass are best for skylights, let’s first talk about what challenging conditions your skylights need to endure.

UV Light

As that gorgeous natural light comes streaming into your room, it first passes through the skylight. That means that whatever material your skylight is made of must be designed to handle extended UV light exposure.

Precipitation

Rain, snow, sleet, hail, ice – these unforgiving elements all land directly on your roof and skylights. Be sure they can take it.

Impact

Tree branches are the most likely cause of impact damage, although other airborne debris from a heavy wind-storm can also cause damage. Know how your skylight will react to impact damage.

What types of skylights can I choose from?

Skylights come in two operational types, giving you options for how your skylight functions.

Fixed/Inoperable

Just like they sound, fixed or inoperable skylights don’t open and close. They simply remain stationary and let light in.

Venting/Operable

If you want your skylight to function more like a window and allow both light and air to come in, choose a venting or operable style of the skylight. These skylights can either be opened manually, with a remote or – on very high-end models – automatically, based on built-in rain and moisture sensors.

 

 

What materials are skylights made from?

Sound like you know what you’re talking about when you refer to your material choices as your “glazing options.” Skylights can be glazed with either plastic or several types of glass, although glass is usually preferred.

Does it matter which skylight glazing you choose? Yes, it does, so let’s check out the pros and cons of each.

Plastic

Plastic is the original glazing option and one that has been used for a long time. It has a few pros, but many cons and it is becoming a less common choice.

Pros

  • Budget-friendly
  • Light-weight
  • Multiple shapes available

Cons

  • Scratches more easily
  • Discolors more easily
  • Less clear view
  • Allows more UV light through
  • Only comes in standard sizes

Glass

The preferred glazing for skylights is glass and there are several variations of glass to choose from. They share some similar pros and cons along with having their own unique traits.

Pros

  • More sophisticated appearance
  • Clear view
  • Many shapes available
  • Many sizes available
  • Doesn’t scratch as easily
  • Better UV protection

Cons

    • Heavier
    • Custom sizes and shapes are more expensive

Tempered Glass

What exactly is tempered glass? Check this out: when a piece of glass has been tempered, this means that it was super-heated and then cooled rapidly. This process results in a piece of glass that is 4-5 times stronger than the original. If a sheet of tempered glass breaks, it shatters into a lot of small, more rounded pieces instead of sharp shards.

Laminated Glass

Do you remember playing with a laminating machine and sandwiching a piece of paper between two sheets of the laminate material? Perfect. You understand laminated glass.

To make laminated glass, one sheet of clear vinyl is encased between two sheets of glass. They are bonded together, creating a super-strong, impact-resistant glass. If the glass somehow does break, the sheets all hold together with minimal loose glass falling inside your house.

As if that’s not enough, there’s more. Laminated glass blocks a whopping 99% of UV light and it also has soundproofing properties.

Tempered-Over-Laminated Glass

Now you may be wondering if you should use tempered or laminated glass for your skylights and how to choose. The good news? You don’t have to.

Here’s the thing: the absolute best kind of glass for a skylight is tempered-over-laminated. This hybrid approach combines the strengths of both tempered and laminated glass to give you the strongest, most resilient, best quality skylight you can imagine.

What coatings are used on skylights?

Your choice of glazing isn’t the only factor that determines how well your skylight performs. You can further enhance the performance by adding coatings to your glass.

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Tinting

Just like on your car windows, adding tinting to a skylight helps it to absorb more of the solar heat and keep it from transferring inside. This keeps your home cooler in the hot summer months.

Low-Emissivity (Low-E)

The Midwest is blessed with both heat and cold, so a Low-E coating can really benefit you here. This type of coating helps improve energy efficiency in both the summer and winter. The coating reflects your home’s inside temperature back inside instead, so you keep more of your cool summer air or toasty winter air in.

The Bottom Line

Skylights can bring light to an otherwise dreary room while still maintaining visual privacy. Remember to select a skylight that stands up to all the stressors that it will be faced with. Skylight glazing options include both plastic and glass although glass is usually preferred. The best kind of glass for a skylight is tempered-over-laminated and coatings can be added to further enhance the skylight’s performance.

Are you ready to install a skylight in your home? Contact us and let us know what room in your home is ready to be upgraded with a skylight.

Four Types of Glass That Let in Light and Ensure Privacy

When it comes to home decor designs, glass is a major “Should I? Shouldn’t I?” component. Glass not only brings in those aesthetic vibes but also renders functionality that one simply can’t manage without!

Many people want to avoid the hassle of additional blinds or curtains. So the best of both worlds would be a glass material that complies with one’s decor and allows privacy while also offering views and sunlight when needed. 

We’ve put together an article that explores four types of glass that serve to let in light but also maintain privacy. Each type of glass offers a unique element of class and elegance to your home without you losing out on privacy. Take a look:

Frosted Glass— Tints that don’t’ Drop Hints

Translucent or frosted glass is made by sandblasting a glass, as a result of which it becomes frosty. Since the mark is only diffused on one side of the glass’s surface, the sunlight is scattered and diffused when it comes into contact with it. This creates a subtle blurry effect while also allowing light to pass through.

This semi-opaque finishing of the glass, however, reduces visibility to a great extent. 

Characteristics of Frosted Glass

  1. Light Diffusion: Frosted glass diffuses light that passes through it, creating a soft illumination that enhances privacy. This is because its roughened surface scatters the light rays.
  2. Opacity: It provides varying levels of opacity depending on the degree of frosting. The more frosted it is, the less transparent it becomes, effectively obscuring the view while still being translucent.
  3. Aesthetic Appeal: Frosted glass has a distinctive, elegant appearance. It can add a stylish touch to any space, making it a popular choice for design-focused applications.

Where is Frosted Glass Used?

Frosted residential glass is often a preferred choice for bathroom windows, shower doors, and enclosures. Its ability to obscure visibility while allowing light makes it ideal for maintaining privacy in these intimate areas. Similarly, it’s used for exterior windows in homes, especially at the ground level or in bathrooms that face the street or neighbouring houses, to enhance privacy without sacrificing natural light.

In office environments, frosted commercial glass plays a significant role in creating private yet bright workspaces. It’s commonly used for partition walls, conference room walls, and office doors. This application allows for secluded areas that are necessary for confidential meetings or focused work while maintaining an open, airy feel. In commercial spaces, like restaurants or retail stores, frosted glass is used to create private areas or to segregate different sections without creating a feeling of confinement. It’s also used in façade design to create a modern look while ensuring privacy.

Frosted Glass Etching

Frosted glass offers customization opportunities. Patterns, designs, or even logos can be etched onto this type of glass, making it a popular choice for branding in corporate environments or for personalizing home decor.

 

Textured Glass— Two Words: Glamorous and Efficient!

Textured Glass has a marked wave pattern designed on the surface. This texture is embossed during the glass’s sheet-forming process. Textured glass comes in different styles and adds a certain decorative touch to your home decor. 

Textured glass scatters light waves and the design reduces the visibility while still allowing the light to pass through. Known for its distinctive patterns and ability to distort or diffuse light while having a range of applications and use cases. 

 

Where is Textured Glass Used?

Textured glass and frosted glass, while similar in their use for privacy and light diffusion, differ primarily in their appearance and the way they manipulate light. Textured glass has a raised pattern on its surface, created during the glassmaking process. This texture can vary from subtle to pronounced, and it distorts or scatters light in unique ways, adding a decorative element.

This type of glass is particularly well-suited for a variety of applications where both aesthetic appeal and privacy are desired. In residential settings, it’s often used in bathroom windows and shower enclosures, where it provides privacy while allowing natural light to permeate the space. Its decorative nature makes it a popular choice for room dividers or cabinet doors in kitchens and living areas, adding a touch of elegance without compromising on functionality. In commercial spaces, textured glass is frequently employed in office partitions and meeting rooms, offering a balance between privacy and an open, light-filled environment

Soundproofing And Energy Efficiency Of Textured Glass

Textured glass can contribute to soundproofing due to its irregular surface, which disrupts sound waves. This can be particularly beneficial in urban environments or areas where external noise is a concern. The effectiveness of textured glass in sound insulation often depends on its thickness and the number of layers used. Thicker and multi-layered textured glass can provide better soundproofing qualities.

By scattering direct sunlight, textured glass can reduce heat gain within a space. This is particularly useful in reducing cooling costs during warmer months. These energy-efficient qualities make textured glass an ideal choice for skylights, windows, and glass doors in both residential and commercial buildings. It’s particularly beneficial in sustainable building designs where energy conservation is a priority.

 

Coloured Glasses—For the Love of Colours

Coloured glass, known for its vibrant hues and artistic appeal, is a versatile material used in various architectural and design contexts. This type of glass is either tinted during the manufacturing process or coated with a coloured film, creating a wide range of colour options. In residential settings, coloured glass is often used to add a decorative touch to windows, bringing both colour and light into a room. It’s also popular in creating stained glass artworks, which are commonly seen in religious buildings and historic structures but are increasingly used in modern homes for their aesthetic appeal and to create focal points. Coloured glass is efficient in allowing light to pass through, but it also ensures privacy. 

Manufacturing Coloured Glass

The manufacturing of coloured glass involves adding metal oxides to the basic glass-making ingredients of silica sand, soda ash, and limestone. Cobalt oxide produces blue glass, while copper oxide results in green, among other colourants. These materials are melted together at high temperatures, integrating the colour uniformly. The molten glass is then shaped using methods like blowing or rolling and undergoes annealing to relieve internal stresses. This process ensures the glass is durable and maintains consistent colour quality.

 

Reflective Glass – Home And Vehicle Applications.

Reflective glass, a type of treated glass commonly used in modern architecture, is designed to reflect sunlight and heat, making it a practical and aesthetic choice for buildings. This glass is coated with metallic or metallic oxide layers, which give it a mirror-like appearance and enable it to reflect a significant portion of the incoming light and heat. The primary purpose of reflective glass is to reduce solar gain and glare inside buildings, thereby improving comfort and reducing the need for air conditioning, which can lead to energy savings.

Where is Reflective Glass Used In Your Home

Windows

Installing reflective glass in windows can significantly reduce the amount of heat and sunlight entering your home. This is especially beneficial in warmer climates or for rooms that receive a lot of direct sunlight. By reflecting a portion of the incoming solar radiation, reflective glass helps maintain cooler indoor temperatures, reducing the reliance on air conditioning and potentially lowering energy costs. If you have areas in your home where glare from the sun is an issue, such as in-home offices or living rooms with televisions, reflective glass can help mitigate this problem by cutting down the amount of direct sunlight that enters the room.

Skylights

In skylights, reflective glass can be utilized to control the amount of sunlight entering through the roof, preventing rooms from becoming too hot while still enjoying natural light. For skylights, a specific type of reflective glass is typically used to optimize both light transmission and energy efficiency. This glass is often a low-emissivity (low-E) glass, which is coated with a microscopically thin, transparent layer of metal or metallic oxide to reduce the amount of heat passing through.

 

Reflective Glass in Car Windshields

In your car, reflective glass plays a crucial role. It’s used in windshields and windows to reduce glare and heat inside the vehicle, enhancing driver comfort and visibility. This is particularly important in reducing eye strain during driving and in keeping the vehicle’s interior cool, contributing to energy efficiency by lessening the reliance on air conditioning. Reflective glass is used throughout your vehicle including:

Tinted Windows: 

Many cars come with tinted windows, which are a form of reflective glass. These windows have a thin film either embedded within the glass or applied to the surface. The tint helps in reducing glare and heat from the sun, providing a more comfortable ride and protecting the interior from fading.

Sunroofs:

In cars with sunroofs, the glass used often has reflective properties to control heat and light entry. This makes the sunroof functional even in bright, sunny conditions, maintaining a comfortable temperature inside the car.

Rear and Side Mirrors: 

The glass used in rearview and side mirrors is often a type of reflective glass. These mirrors are designed to give a clear view of the traffic behind and alongside the car, with the reflective surface helping to reduce headlight glare from other vehicles at night.

Heads-Up Display (HUD) Glass

In advanced vehicle models, HUD systems project information onto the windshield. The glass in these areas might have specific reflective properties to ensure clear visibility of the display in various lighting conditions.

 

Different Types of Glass Conclusion

We explored a range of glass types, each offering unique properties and applications. Frosted glass, with its light-diffusing and privacy-enhancing qualities, is ideal for use in areas requiring seclusion, such as bathrooms and office partitions. Textured glass, known for its decorative patterns, serves both aesthetic and functional purposes in windows, room dividers, and skylights. Coloured glass, vibrant and versatile, adds aesthetic appeal to architectural designs, interior spaces, and artistic installations. Reflective glass, used in building facades and automotive windows, excels in solar control and energy efficiency. Lastly, low-E glass, a specific type of reflective glass, stands out for its superior energy efficiency and thermal insulation properties, making it a preferred choice for environmentally conscious building designs. Each of these glass types demonstrates the material’s incredible versatility and adaptability, meeting diverse needs in both function and style across various settings and applications.

At Crystal Glass, we offer high-quality glass for auto, home and commercial along with personal protective barriers. Read more about these services such as residential glass repair, emergency glass service, and car window repair in Edmonton.

With over 65 years of experience, we have cemented our position among the best and most reputable glass repair companies in Alberta, Canada. 

What is the best glass for natural light?

Four Types of Glass That Let in Light and Ensure Privacy

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