If you think “security” when you think of glass block windows, you are properly identifying one of the most well-known characteristics of these window coverings.
Comprised of blocks of glass or acrylic rather than panes of glass, they are capable of letting in light, yet are thick, break resistant, and impenetrable. Glass block windows are the ideal way to let light into basements, bathrooms, garages, and other areas where security and privacy are highly valued.
First developed in Great Britain in the 1880s, the windows were originally blown by mouth and resembled open bottles. The first ones had different wall thicknesses and tended to form condensation inside, but once they were made by machine they quickly became recognized as a useful architectural element. By the 1930s, the blocks were two halves of glass fused together, which opened the door to many new sizes, shapes, styles, and patterns of glass block that could be installed individually or combined to make pre-made windows.
Advantages of Glass Block Windows
Depending on their composition and construction, modern glass block windows offer many advantages
- Mortared into a home’s foundation and hard to penetrate, they promote safety and security.
- Requiring no annual caulking or grouting, they are low maintenance.
- When equipped with air vents, removable sashes, and power vents, they improve indoor air quality.
- They are easy to open when vents are installed.
- When installed in basements, they can integrate dryer vents to eliminate the need for other openings in the home’s foundation.
- When framed in vinyl, they protect against water intrusions.
- Some varieties are bullet, vandal, fire resistant, or hurricane resistant.
Energy Efficiency Marks New Glass Block Windows
Energy efficiency is just the newest property to be built into some glass block windows, which often meet federal Energy Star Efficiency guidelines. Considered to be as efficient as double thermal pane windows, standard glass block windows have an average R-factor of 1.96 and are also airtight. Some types are also low emissivity, which reduces heat loss through windows.
Now that the windows are more energy-efficient, the market for glass block windows is expected to grow beyond current uses such as basement windows. Glass block is a good replacement for old coal chutes, sidelights, and garage windows. They can replace large cutouts in a building with sealed, insulated, private windows.
New Uses for Glass Block Windows
Modern glass block windows are used in many areas of the home both for function and as decorative elements. Available in colors, they are often used to create decorative walls, partitions, showers, internal walls, color accents windows, wet bars, and large exterior windows. In addition, they are used as windows in showers as they are waterproof and don’t require wooden frames that can rot away due to the moisture.
For the best in glass block windows, contact Rocky Mountain Windows & Doors today for a free in-home consultation and estimate.