Glass is glass, right? Actually, not at all.

In fact, there are at least six basic categories or types of glass that can be used in commercial glazing. In addition, there are different variations and applications when it comes to commercial glass installation. And, in fact, the varieties and combinations can be a bit overwhelming.

Fortunately, for storefront glass options, the choices can be narrowed down a bit!


Choosing Storefront Glass: A Brief Primer

The storefronts of retail and commercial buildings have several functions. Perhaps the primary and most basic function is to allow people to see into the building or at least the display area behind the glass. 

In addition, storefront glass serves to provide safety, security, aesthetics, and energy efficiency. 


Basic Glass Finishes

Depending on the type of commercial structure – whether it is a retail store or an executive office suite, for example – the look and color of the glass will be one deciding factor. Clear or transparent glass is a common choice for retail storefronts since this allows people to clearly see what’s behind the glass, allowing a business to highlight their merchandise or services.

On the other hand, storefront structures for office suites and other non-retail commercial buildings may have tinted, mirrored, or even frosted glass. This provides varying degrees of privacy as well as enhanced protection from UV light for greater energy efficiency.

In addition, tinted and frosted glass panels offer some security benefits as they can prevent people from seeing who or what is inside a building. 


Basic Glass Types

There are essentially three commonly used types of glass used in most storefronts. Again, the type of storefront will be a leading factor in deciding on the type of glass used. However, a brief overview of these three common types is helpful. 


Annealed glass

Annealed glass is the most common and can be used in many applications. Also known as a standard sheet or float glass, annealed glass is less expensive than other types of glass. It offers versatility and flexibility due to its ability to be cut into a variety of styles and designs, including curved panels. Other types of glass are typically created from annealed glass. 


Tempered glass

Tempered glass is a good way to make your storefront glass safer and is often required when the window is near a door or close to the ground. Tempered glass is four times stronger than annealed glass and, if it does break, it shatters into many tiny pieces making it safer for people near it.

However, it is not considered “security” glass since it doesn’t deter entry of an intruder who might break a window to get in. 

A thermal tempering process is used to create tempered glass, which makes it less susceptible to breakage compared to other kinds of glass. It is also resistant to heavy winds and even minor concussive forces. As it is naturally transparent, it can be great for retail storefronts and doors.


Laminated glass

Laminated glass is essentially two sheets of annealed glass applied to either side of a strong film that seals the pieces together. The film, or interlayer, is typically polyvinyl butyral (PVB), ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA), or Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU). When laminated glass breaks it is held together with this film and remains as one piece.

Broken laminated glass can be hit over and over and, while more glass will break, the pane will stay in place.

It can be used for storefront windows, glass doors, and even curtain walls. It is good for protection from storm damage and vandalism. It can also protect from damage due to UV light penetration. Laminated glass also provides additional sound insulation due to its added thickness.


Security Glass

While laminated glass and tempered glass are sometimes referred to as “security glass” they are more properly categorized as safety glass. True security glass would include glass products that have been enhanced with films or additional layers of glass, such as triple-layered laminated glass.

These heavy-duty types of security glass are not typically required for most storefront projects and are also quite a bit more costly than standard safety glass products.


Common Glass Styles

Both tempered and laminated glass products can be produced in a variety of thicknesses and colors or tints. In addition, storefront glass can be created with various frosted finishes, as well.

Another common variation on storefront glass is insulated glass. Insulated glass allows heating and cooling systems to function more efficiently by reducing energy loss and does so without tinting. Insulated glass products include:


  • Treated glass
  • Dual pane glass
  • Gas-filled glass


Expert Help for Your Commercial Glass Needs

Finding help for choosing commercial glass for your storefront is simple when you call on one of Santa Rosa’s best glass companies. Our team is made up of highly skilled technicians who all share a passion for glazing and for the satisfaction of a job well done. B&L Glass delivers robust solutions for all types of glass needs.

Whether you require commercial glass to brighten a storefront with light, or glass curtain walls to create a stylish look for your offices, we have the skills and professionals necessary to execute your ideas to the highest level.

With the attention to detail necessary to craft bespoke office doors with glass and the capabilities to work even at the largest scales, we offer the most reliable path to outcomes you’ll love.Contact us today to learn more about these differences, or to discuss your project with our team. You can call us at 707-285-9973 or use our online contact form.