Prior to the 17th century, only the wealthy could afford to have glass windows; everyone else had to make-do with wooden shutters or stretched animal hides to keep out the weather and draughts. Today, though, things are very different and glass is a big part of modern architectural designs. Older homes tend to have smaller windows, but many contemporary properties routinely have entire walls made from glass. But is glass such a great material – or are there significant disadvantages to using glass as a building material?
design by John Robert Nilsson
The advantages of glass in home construction
Glass is an undeniably beautiful material. It lets in light and when used as a partition, the space is light, bright and airy. The fact that glass is so aesthetically pleasing is one of the reasons why so many contemporary homes utilize so much glass. When a home is constructed from significant amounts of glass, the end result is often stunning, and the client is likely to be very happy with their new abode.
Other advantages of using glass include:
- Glass is lightweight and can be used on upper floors with no special consideration made for load bearing in the final design
- Glass doesn’t conduct heat well, so heat is retained in the room
- Glass is very versatile so color and texture can be added during the manufacturing process
The disadvantages of glass in home construction
There are a few disadvantages to using glass as a construction material. For one thing, acres of glass are a real pain to clean unless you pay a lot extra for self-cleaning glass. The exterior of a glass building can be cleaned by commercial window cleaning contractors (for a price), but when it comes to the interior, you are on your own.
Cleaning glass the easy way
The best way to keep large expanses of glass clean is to use a window cleaning attachment for a steam cleaner. Steam cleaning takes the effort out of cleaning interior glass. Instead of messing about with buckets of hot, soapy water and a window cloth, you can remove muck, mildew and mould in an instant and end up with sparkling windows.
Life in a goldfish bowl
Another disadvantage of glass is that you are always on show. Glass homes look beautiful at night when light from the interior glows out like a shining beacon, but the downside to this is that anyone on the outside looking in will have a fantastic view. The only way to deal with this issue is to install blinds or curtains. However, if you have a lot of glass to cover, this will be an expensive option.
Glass is also more fragile than other materials, so is susceptible to damage from impact or ground movement, such as that experienced during an earthquake. For this reason, glass should never be used in large quantities in an earthquake zone.
Glass is a popular building material, but think carefully before replacing traditional partitions and walls with glass because it will require more maintenance than other materials.