Glass Shelving: Frequently Asked Questions

If you are looking for storage that makes a clean, clear style statement, you’re probably considering glass shelves.

As stylish as they are practical, glass shelving units can be as much of a design decision as a storage solution. They maximise the space and light in a room, while still giving a sturdy, supportive surface to show off your belongings.

Unfortunately, wood often seems the safer, simpler option but this is rarely actually the case. So, we’ve put together a handy guide to glass shelving units, tackling some of the most common queries people ask.

Are glass shelves tempered?

When creating bespoke glass shelves, it is always best to use glass that has been toughened or ‘tempered’.

In order to temper glass, it is heated to an intense heat then rapidly cooled by subjecting it to blasts of cold air. This process puts the inner layers of the glass under a higher level of stress than the outer layers. This makes it a lot stronger: in fact, tempered glass can be up to 4x as tough as untreated glass.

Tempered glass is also safer, because it breaks differently. It shatters completely into crumb like pieces with no sharp edges or shards.

You are not legally required to use tempered glass when making shelves. However, here at KLG glass we use tempered glass for all our glass shelves because it is so much stronger and so much safer to do so.

How thick do glass shelves need to be?

There is no specific thickness that glass shelves need to be: it all depends on how much weight you want them to hold.

As a minimum, tempered glass shelves should be at least 4mm thick. This is fine for bathroom or other low usage shelves, that won’t need to hold more than a couple of shampoo bottles or a mug for your toothbrush.

For most purposes 8 or 10mm are a better bet. These can support heavier loads, but aren’t too costly.

Can glass shelves be recycled?

Tempered glass can be difficult to recycle. It has a different chemical make-up to untreated glass, which gives it a higher melting point. The recycling process for glass involves melting it all down, so if tempered glass is mixed in with untreated glass, you can be left with semi-solid globules of glass amongst the melted liquid.

You may be able to find specialists who can take tempered glass, but you can’t just chuck it  in your usual council recycling bin when you’ve finished with it.

How do you install glass shelves?

Installing glass floating shelves is not a complicated task. If you are fixing them to a wall, use anchors to secure them. These will include a ‘clamp’ section to fit around the surface of the shelf.

Specially designed wall anchors will help make your shelving secure, as well as preventing damage to the surface of your shelves. You will need sufficient anchors for the length and width of your individual shelves.

Can glass shelves hold books?

As long as the glass has been tempered, there is no reason for glass shelves to be unable to hold books. It is all dependent on the thickness of the glass you use and how many brackets you use to secure the shelves to the wall.

How are glass shelves measured?

Like most DIY items, glass shelves can be measured in inches or in millimetres.  These units can be applied to the length, thickness or depths of the shelves though obviously millimetres allow for the most amount of specificity.

Most manufacturers will offer glass shelves made to measure, allowing you to specify exactly what length and depth you want, and giving you glass shelving cut to size.

How do you attach a glass shelf to a mirror?

If you are looking for stylish storage options, few things beat a glass shelf/mirror combination. It’s all clean lines and reflected light!

For thinner shelves, like lightweight glass bathroom shelves, your best option is to bond the shelve straight on the mirror. This gives a great, clean, finish, but you will be limited on the load you can place on the shelf.

Alternatively, you can use brackets for glass shelving. These give you more flexibility on what you can put on the shelf but it can be a fiddly process that damages the mirror if done incorrectly. It’s best to get these attached by a professional.

How much weight can a glass shelf hold?

Throughout this FAQ we’ve discussed the different factors that affect how much weight a glass shelf can hold. If you need more guidance, there are plenty of weight load calculators online that can give you specific details.

How long can a glass shelf be?

Technically, there are no more limits on the length of glass shelving units than there is on wooden ones. Just remember that the longer the shelves are, you will need more brackets to keep them sturdy. For really long shelves, you may even need to consider thicker glass.

Can glass shelving be painted?

It is definitely possible to get a painted finish on glass shelving, that is glossy and durable. Thing is, we think the main attraction of glass is their light and space enhancing clarity, and a layer of paint can ruin that.

Instead, if you’re looking for ways to make your shelves more unique, why not consider getting them sandblasted or tinted. Smoky grey or black glass shelves could add depth to a room without completely sacrificing the transparency of the surface.

The clean cut lines of glass shelving can turn a practical necessity into a design feature. We hope this post has demonstrated how durable, how practical, glass shelves are, while also being the most attractive, modern choice.

How Safe Are Glass Balustrades?

Glass balustrades make a highly attractive design addition to any office, industrial or residential space. Their transparency works to maximise light and thus opening up an area, they remove visual barriers and open up floors, rooms and mezzanines into bright, broad spaces.

Finishes such as frosting allow potential for attractive, effective customisation or branding, while their simple construction matches any minimalist, modern design scheme.

Unfortunately, when designing open plan spaces, many people will decide against glass. Usually because they are concerned about the safety.  Glass has a reputation for being fragile, too easy to shatter and too much of a risk.

In actual fact, there is little risk involved in choosing glass balustrades. This post will look at the many regulations and requirements that surround the construction and design of glass balustrades and demonstrate exactly what makes them a durable, attractive and SAFE choice.

Are glass balustrades safe?

Professionally installed, legislation-compliant balustrades are incredibly safe. Adding a balustrade, banister or barrier will always improve the safety of a staircase, mezzanine or balcony and your choice of material won’t change that.

A number of building regulations exist purely to ensure safety. Building Standard 6180: 2011 sets out the requirements for barriers that are constructed in any residential or industrial building, including the specific requirements for any made of glass. It specifies the type of glass that is needed, the necessary height a balustrade must reach and many other glass balustrade regulations.

As long as these regulations are adhered to, along with the ones contained within Approved Documents K and M, you can trust that any glass balustrades you install are one of the safest options you can use.

What type of glass is used for glass balustrades?

One of the key factors in the safety of glass balustrades is the type of glass used to make them. The thickness is another important factor. This is why building regulations clearly specify what is and what isn’t suitable for use in the construction balustrades.

In the UK, the regulations allow the use of two types of safety glass:

  • Toughened or tempered glass
  • Laminated glass

Toughened or tempered glass is the most frequently used type. It is made by exposing the glass to a very high heat, around 700°C and then rapidly cooling it. This is called ‘quenching’ and the whole process only takes around 60 seconds. Despite being so quick, this process can increase the strength of glass by up to four times by locking tension in the inner core of the glass.

After treatment, tempered glass is incredibly hard to break. The process also changes the way it breaks. Rather than splinter into sharp, dangerous, shards, tempered glass will shatter completely in to small, granular pieces. The smaller size and softer edges of these pieces make it much safer to clear up, ensuring that no jagged edges are left standing in frames or clips.

The other type of glass that can be used is laminated. This is made by sandwiching a thin layer of plastic between two layers of glass. It means that if one layer breaks, the second should stay standing.

The thickness of glass used will depend on the design and purpose of the balustrades. The minimum thickness for any glass balustrade is 10mm but certain situations may require the glass to be anything up to 21.5mm.

What height should glass balustrades be?

The required height of a glass balustrade will again depend on the purpose of the building it is used in and where in that building it will be used. These many variations are explored in Approved Document K which outlines specific heights for specific situations.

In residential premises, internal balustrades used to edge stairs, landings or internal floors or mezzanine levels must be at least 900mm (90cm) in height. External glass balustrades for balconies, staircases or rooftops, must be at least 1100mm (110cm).

Does a glass balustrade need a handrail?

It is possible to have a frameless or cantilever glass balustrade without a handrail. However, there are strict regulations over the type of glass that can be used without a frame or handrail; the balustrade must stay secure, even if part of it fails. This usually means having glass that is both laminated and toughened. You can consult BS 6180: 2011 for more details.

Safety benefits of glass balustrades

Not only are glass balustrades a safe choice, in many cases they are the safest choice.

  • They’re durable and long-lasting

Glass is a highly robust material that doesn’t degrade over time. Whereas wood might rot, or brick may start to crumble, glass will stand firm for the duration of its life. It is also immune to the impact of pests or pets and won’t suffer any structural damage from exposure to water.

  • They’re strong and hard to break

As we’ve discussed above, toughened glass is incredibly difficult to break. Whereas wood can splinter, or one spindle can snap. With glass, the stress of any impact is spread across a far greater area and thus lessened.

  • They’re transparent

As well as being an important design feature, the transparency of glass is also a potential safety benefit. It allows better visibility of what is going on around any stairs or balcony and allows better judgement of height.

Are glass balustrades child-friendly?

The last massive safety benefit of glass balustrades is that they are so child-friendly. Wooden or metal railing and banister options are designed with slats and gaps to stop them being visually overwhelming. This creates a big risk for eager little fingers or limbs. Glass balustrades can be designed with gaps too small for any miniature body parts to slip through or get stuck in, without needing a thick, ugly wall of material to block up the flow of your house.

Picking glass balustrades is a choice without compromise. They’re a stylish design statement that look attractive and maximise light and space. And, when you purchase them from KLG, you can also trust that they’ll be strong, secure and completely safe too.

The Science Behind UV Bonding

The process of UV bonding is a relatively new one but one that is growing in popularity. It has some fantastic advantages over other methods, including the finished appearance and the ease of the process.

In this post we’re going to look at the ins-and-outs of UV bonded glass, discussing how it works, where it is most commonly used and why so many people are choosing it as their preferred method.

What is UV Bonding?

UV bonding is a way of joining two pieces of glass together. It uses a special adhesive or glue that ‘sticks’ the glass together and eliminates the need for extra screws, bolts or fixings.  The ultraviolet element of the name comes from the curing process; once the special adhesive is in place, it is then ‘cured’ under a UV bonding light.

This adhesive process is popular because it is incredibly secure. In fact, it often leaves a join that is stronger than the glass itself. It is also attractive: the adhesive is transparent, and should appear almost invisible on the panes of glass.

UV bonding is one of the most popular ways to bond glass. A predominant reason for this is down to the durability of the bond: it is so strong, and it lasts such a long time. Of course another reason is the sleek finish it gives. It is easy to control and should always create a clean, clear join.

The final reason it is so popular is that the UV bonding process has many versatile uses, not just for joining glass to glass.

How Does UV Bonding Work?

UV light bonding glue is sometimes referred to as liquid glue. This is because it stays liquid for prolonged periods, and is stable at room temperature. In fact the only thing that can ‘activate’ it and make it dry to form a bond is exposure to a UV bonding light.

This process works because of the intensity of UV light. When a UV glass bonding light is shone on the adhesive, it creates a chemical reaction within the glue. This causes the adhesive to harden, which in turn forms the bond. This process is called ‘curing’.

The whole procedure can be completed very quickly. Applying the light for as little as 3 seconds can create a durable, robust bond that lasts. Alternatively, you can leave it for longer to make it more secure, or even apply a second layer to create an unbreakable bond. You may also need to leave it on longer depending on the wattage of the UV glass bonding lamp  you use and the thickness of the glass.

The stability of the compound and the specific conditions needed for the UV liquid glue to cure, makes this technique much simpler and more reliable than other methods such as drying. In other bonding methods, the adhesive is cured by evaporation. This process is massively unpredictable and can be easily affected by a number of variables, including temperature and humidity.

In comparison, UV bonding allows you complete control of the curing from start to finish. This is one of the reasons it gives such good results.

The speed and the control that the process allows also means that it gives very consistent results. When the best results are strong, stable and sleek joins that stay secure and look great, this consistency is a brilliant bonus. It’s a technique that promises optimum quality. You can always trust your UV bonded glass will last a long time and look lovely for the entire duration of its life.

What is UV Bonded Glass Used for?

Most types of glass can be bonded using a UV bonding liquid. The only real requirement necessary for the glass is that the surface of it is very flat, very bright and very polished. If these conditions are met, you should be able to create a formidable, unbreakable bond using UV bonding liquid glue.

And it doesn’t just work to secure glass against glass. You can also use this technique to attach wood, plastic and even metal parts such as legs, hinges or handles to glass as well.

The crystal clear, robust and strong joins make it well suited to the construction of items that are more often seen to be made from wood, fixed with durable screws.  For example the UV technique is commonly used in the creation of glass furniture from small to large scale items such as:

  • Coffee tables or desks
  • Display cabinets
  • Shelving units

It is also perfect for use in making modern, minimalist and stylish accessories such as umbrella stands, magazine racks and ornaments.

Of course, you don’t have to be constrained by the clear finish that UV bonding provides either. The adhesive makes a completely flush surface that can be sanded down and covered, decorated or even painted with ease. There is nothing stopping you from giving a bonded surface a beautiful, unique, decorated look.  

This technique excels in the construction of glass display cabinets and trophy cabinets. The transparent joins allow the maximum possible light to get in, ensuring display items are always shown to their best advantage. Even better, the clean lines only enhance the intricacies of the items contained within. When combined with an opaque base or back to the case, these cases can also provide a gentle diffusion of natural light which will further flatter their contents.

In the creation of display cabinets, you can also use this process to attach locks, hinges and runners. Again, you can trust in the security that these additions will provide when they’re attached to the cabinet by UV bonding: impossible to remove without breaking the glass, they keep any contents safe and secure, while displaying them clearly and attractively..

The final main use for UV glass bonding is in architecture. The strength of the bonds mean they are well suited for use in the construction of staircases, balconies and doors. Designed in glass, these features can enhance any interior and turn it into a modern, stylish space.

Using UV activated adhesive, is one of the most popular ways to bond glass. With it’s long life and clean look, we suspect you will now see why so many people choose it.

Glass Balustrades: A Useful Guide

You may not be aware of it, but you probably see glass balustrades way more frequently than you realise. They are actually a common architectural feature, protecting people on staircases or at heights.

But the word ‘balustrade’ may seem quite intimidating and definitely suggests a complicated design item. To clear this up, we’ve put together this post to help you get to grips with what a glass balustrade is, where they can be used and why you would want to use them.

What is a Glass Balustrade?

The word ’balustrade’ may seem unusual and formal, but is a technical term for something that is almost everywhere.  It is basically defined as a rail that is supported by pillars, posts or panels (which are technically called balusters). This means that railings, banisters and handrails are actually all types of balustrades. And these really are common.

Obviously, a glass balustrade in particular is one that features glass, usually in the supports beneath the rail, but not exclusively.

There are two primary types of glass balustrade. Most commonly, glass panels can be used to fill the space between posts and rails, but they can also be left to stand alone. That leaves the edge of the panels to form the ‘railing’.

These ‘freestanding’ balustrades are called ‘structural’ or ‘cantilever’ and are perfect when you don’t want a handrail and prefer a completely clear surface. Choosing a structural balustrade has a lot of visual benefits, but it will also have big impact on the type of glass that you can use.

What type of glass is used for balustrades?

As one of the main purposes of balustrades is to ensure safety, there are quite a few recommendations around what glass should be used to construct them.

Firstly, you can only use toughened or tempered glass. This means it has been treated with extreme heat in order to strengthen it. This robust, safety glass can be up to five times stronger than glass that is untreated. The glass tempering process should also ensure that if it breaks, it shatters into smaller granular pieces, rather than sharper, ragged shards.

Laminated glass can also be used for balustrades as it provides extra protection from breaking. Laminated glass has a very thin layer of plastic sandwiched between two slim panes of glass. Though you can’t see this wafer-thin sheet of plastic, it helps the glass hold together if it gets broken.

Another big constraint on balustrade design, is how thick should a glass balustrade be? In most cases, around 10mm thickness is needed for balustrades which also have posts supporting them and at least 15mm thickness is needed when used for structural or cantilever balustrades. Regardless of the thickness, any glass will always need to be toughened or laminated.

Both types of panels can be finished in a range of ways. For maximum clarity, space and light, they can be left clear. Alternatively, they can be tinted with colour, frosted or sandblasted glass can also be used to incorporate logos or a bespoke design.

A lot of specifics around the type of glass you need, will depend on where it’s being used and the structure around it, so it always advisable to check the needs of each particular project.

Where Can Glass Balustrades be Used?

Almost anywhere you want a glass balustrade, you can find one to fit. Whether it’s internal or external you can choose to use:

  • For stairs, to bring safety and space to your interior
  • Around decking or partitioning off garden space
  • On a balcony, to provide uninterrupted views across the landscape
  • Around a patio area, to free your garden from harsh lines
  • As a pool surround to help you feel freedom while you swim

Benefits of Glass Balustrades

Glass balustrades are a highly popular choice for both internal and external design. This isn’t surprising when you see how many benefits they have!

Safety

The thick, tempered glass commonly used in balustrades is incredibly safe. Treated to make it almost as strong as steel, this glass hardly ever breaks making it a great choice for family homes or busy offices.

Maximise light and space

The transparency of glass brings a whole range of design benefits to a building. Being able to see straight through a space will maximise its size, making it feel roomier and more open. It will also allow light to flood in, which helps the room feel even bigger and brighter!

Easy to clean

Wide, smooth panes of glass can be swiped with a soft cloth and cleaned in minutes. Compared to the intricate designs you find on balustrades made from wood or metal, which require fiddly dusting, polishing and primping, the smooth surface of glass is a dream to maintain. Our glass cleaning top tips blog post should also help.

Durable

As well as being secure and safe in the short term, glass balustrades age brilliantly too. They won’t warp or rot and can withstand exposure to extreme elements. They can’t be infested by pests or gnawed by pets. They won’t fade in colour, or age in texture and if maintained correctly, will look sharp and smart for their entire life.

Eco-friendly

You might not realise it, but glass is a really environmentally-friendly material. Its durability means it lasts for ages and won’t need major updates or modifications in its long life. Plus, if the unthinkable happens and you decide to remove the glass, this material is often recyclable and easy to dispose of!

Look amazing!

Obviously, the biggest benefit to glass balustrades is their beauty. Their stylish simplicity will match brilliantly with a minimalist, modern decor but they are also incredibly versatile. Their ability to maximise space can help to open up dark, dingy spaces into bright, beautiful ones.

Despite having a rather daunting name, balustrades are actually all around you, and feature in almost all buildings with two or more floors at least once. When picking a material to make them from, glass is not just a stylish choice, but a smart one too.

You can install glass balustrades in a range of places, happy in the knowledge that they are safe, secure and long-lasting. So, if you’re thinking of updating or improving the look of your property, re-think your existing balustrades and give glass a go!

The Benefits of Double Glazing

The first two questions we are usually asked about double glazing are, “how much money will it save” and, “can double glazing reduce noise?” The answers are, “more than you think” and, “yes, absolutely!” it really is a wonderful invention. But why is double glazing so good?

Double glazing doors and windows have made our homes warmer, quieter, more energy efficient, and have even given us a welcome added layer of security! Here at KLG we offer a huge range of double glazing units to meet individual requirements for trade and retail customers. Not convinced yet? Let us tell you more about this game changing invention.

How Are Double Glazed Windows Made?

Double glazed windows are made by taking two panes of glass separated by a spacer bar and sealing them together into a single unit. The gap between the panes is filled with a gas before the unit is hermetically sealed (which means the gas cannot escape and no air can get in). The gas used varies, sometimes it’s just dehydrated air, but the most commonly used gas today is Argon.

Filling the cavity between the panes of a double glazed unit with dehydrated air or gas has the effect of reducing thermal and acoustic conductivity. This is because in this state, the molecules of the air or gas are much less mobile and so much poorer at transmitting sound or heat.

Here are some key facts about the history and construction of the double glazing unit:

  • Who invented double glazing? We don’t know exactly who invented double glazing, but it is thought to have originated in Victorian Scotland by chilly innovators attempting to combat the harsh winters. We do know that the idea found its way to the USA in the 1930’s when the ‘Thermopane’ was developed by an inventor called Haven. It wasn’t until the 1970’s that double glazing as we know it today became popular in the UK.
  • Why are double glazed windows filled with argon? Double glazed windows are often filled with Argon because it has 34% lower thermal conductivity than air, making it much more efficient. Other gasses are even better than Argon, but they cost a lot more so aren’t often used. The cost of double glazed windows filled with Argon is only about 5% more than those filled with dehydrated air.
  • Is there a vacuum in double glazing? There is not a vacuum in double glazing. Technically speaking, a vacuum is the complete absence of matter and as gas is a matter, the gap between the panes of a double glazed unit is not a vacuum. However, the cavity is filled under vacuum conditions and the resulting space is often vacuum-like (meaning it is sealed at a lower pressure).
  • What is the standard thickness of double glazing? The standard thickness of double glazing varies somewhat according to whether the unit is designed for thermal insulation or acoustic insulation, but generally the cavity width for standard double glazing windows is around 16mm.

How Much Money Can You Save With Double Glazing?

The money saving effect of double glazed windows primarily comes from how effective they are at conserving heat, and this depends on what we call the U Factor (sometimes referred to as U Value). The U Factor measures the speed with which a window transfers heat, and therefore how well it insulates.

  • What is a good U Factor for a window? A low U Factor indicates a low rate of heat transfer and therefore a window that insulates well; glass with a U Factor of around 1.2 is a good rating for a window.

    To make things a little simpler, in the UK the efficiency of double glazed windows is rated A – G (A being the most efficient) and this rating takes into account the U Factor of the glass as well as other elements of the window’s construction such as types of frame (wooden frames are good insulators while uPVC frames have a longer lifespan).

  • What is the average cost of double glazing a house? Well in order to work that out, we need to factor in the cost of actually installing double glazing in the first place. The cost of double glazing will depend on the quality of the product you purchase, but the average cost of double glazing a house in the UK is between £3000 – £5000.
  • How much money will double glazing save? Again, it depends on the quality of the double glazing, but an A rated installation in a semi-detached house will save you around £120 a year. This means a £3000 installation would pay for itself in 25 years. However, it’s also important to factor in other long term savings and gains. For example double glazing will help to protect against future energy price hikes, will make your home more secure, and will add value to your property that you can recoup when you sell.
  • Is it worth putting in double glazing? We think the financial argument alone makes the case; it’s a good investment that will likely pay for itself whether you stay put or sell up, and it’ll give you a much better standard of living in the meantime. This, plus the environmental benefits of double glazing, make it a no-brainer as far as we’re concerned!

How Long Does Double Glazing Last?

Generally, we reap the benefits of double glazing, such as saving money, better insulation and lower environmental impact over the long term. This is usually fine because double glazing units, particularly those with uPVC frames, have a long life span, and a good double glazed window should last around 25 years.

However, they aren’t indestructible and it is possible for them to fail. Whether you need to replace the entire unit though, or simply repair an element, depends on the extent of the failure. Here are some of the more common failure points to watch out for, along with some of the repairs to double glazing you can make:

  • What causes condensation in between double glazing? When water vapour hits a cold surface, condensation occurs. If you’re seeing condensation on the inside pane of your double glazing, the temperature of the glass is too low for the room. You could switch to a more thermally efficient window to raise the temperature of the inside pane, but the problem will most likely be solved by simply improving the ventilation around your home, or using a dehumidifier. Condensation in between double glazing is caused by warm air getting into the cavity, which means your seal is no longer airtight. This is a problem because double glazed sealed units cannot be repaired, so you will require a double glazing unit replacement.
  • Can double glazed sealed units be repaired? As your double glazed windows age, it is not uncommon for a sash to drop or hinges to become worn. If you notice air or water coming in around the sash, it may be that the window no longer closes properly. Use a credit card to check for gaps around the sash and replace hinges or adjust the sash accordingly until the seal is tight again. If the sash looks flush, it may be that the weather seal around the glass unit has gone. This can be replaced but you might consider upgrading your double glazing at this point to the latest standard. Finally, if you can feel a draught between the brickwork and the frame, it’s likely that the sealant has perished. You should be able to fix this by simply filling the area between the wall and the frame, or hiring a professional to do it.
  • Can you just replace the glass in double glazing? If your glass is scratched, you will probably be able to polish out the imperfection relatively easily. If you have more significant damage to your glass work, such as a crack or a hole, it will need replacing, as sooner or later the gas cavity will be compromised. The good news is you can just replace the glass in double glazing, so this won’t be a complete refit. Similarly, anything more than cosmetic damage to the frame will also leave the glass, and your security vulnerable, so replacing the frame might be your only option.

But don’t let this talk of failures and repairs put you off; today’s double glazing units are stronger, better and more effective than ever before and will almost certainly come with a guarantee. They are built to last, and are arguably less likely to fail than single-glazed alternatives due to the huge development and investment they receive from the industry (only 7% of households in the UK now have no double glazing).

We hope our guide through the history, construction and benefits of double glazing has convinced you that it really is an investment worth making. Why not take a look at our huge range of double glazing solutions and see how we can start saving you money today?

What is Glass Sandblasting?

Here at KLG, we’ve been asked on more than one occasion “what is frosted glass made of?” And well, the answer’s in the question; it’s plain old glass. But the difference is that it’s glass that’s been sandblasted.

“Sandblasting” is one of those terms that pretty much is what it sounds like. It’s the process of blasting sand particles at high speed to abrade a smooth surface. So what is sandblasting used for? Well it can be used to etch patterns onto a surface, to clean certain metals, and when used with glass, sandblasting takes the clarity out of the surface and makes it opaque.

You’ll have probably seen sandblasted glass windows in bathrooms and front doors where the privacy of opaque (or ‘frosted’) glass is useful. But at KLG, we’ve taken sandblasted glass designs to a whole new level, from matching wallpaper patterns to bonded glass trophies and everything in between.

How is Sandblasting Done?

The concept is fairly straightforward, but what is the process of sandblasting? It basically involves the sand particles being propelled along a tube on a high-speed current of air. The sand shoots through a nozzle at the end of the tube, hitting the glass and corroding the surface, leaving a milky white opaque look to it. Different etching effects are obtained by varying the amount of sand used, the speed of the jet and the nozzle at the end of the tube.

The amazing patterns and detail you often see in sandblasted panes is created by simply ‘masking off’ the areas of the glass you don’t want affected by the sand with an adhesive vinyl. The masked off areas are not susceptible to the sand blasting, so remain crystal clear.

There are two main approaches to how sandblasting works: suction/syphoning, and pressure. The suction method simply sucks the sand into the high-speed air stream, whereas the pressure system uses a pressurized container to shoot the sand through the nozzle. Generally, pressure set ups are more powerful and so produce results more quickly, but they also tend to be more expensive.

In addition to the standard blast hose and nozzle jet (which looks a little bit like a heavy duty pressure hose), you can also use a blast cabinet. Cabinets are great because all the sand particles are contained inside so there is less to clean up, and you don’t generally need to wear protective clothing as you’re operating the machinery in a sealed box. However, there are obviously limits to what you can fit inside one!

And it’s not just sand that’s used either. There are lots of other abrasive materials that can be used for blasting, such as crushed walnut or coconut shells, and actually this is often preferable as silica sand (the traditional medium) can cause silicosis of the lung.

There are other ways in which to etch glass, which involve using acids and creams, but as these techniques involve extremely hazardous materials and don’t offer the same range in technique or effect, sandblasting is now the more common approach.

Where Can You Use Frosted Glass?

Although frosted glass works brilliantly in bathrooms for privacy in shower screens, windows and glass doors, it can be used in lots of other places around the home too. Here are a few examples to get you thinking:

  • Mirrors can be sandblasted on the back when being fitted with lighting or have patterns sandblasted onto the front.
  • Balustrades and partitions look great with patterns sandblasted onto them (we can even match these to your wallpaper design).
  • Doors with glass panes in double glazing units can be sandblasted for privacy or patterned for decoration. You could even have the name of your house etched into a window above your front door.

And it’s not just around the home that frosted glass can be useful; having logos or motifs etched onto doors, windows, table tops and signage can be a wonderful and practical addition to the workplace as well.

Sandblasted Glass Designs

We mentioned earlier how the patterns on frosted glass are achieved by masking off the areas that need to remain clear with adhesive vinyl. Once you appreciate that the vinyl can be cut to order, you begin to realise the possibilities for designs are practically endless! A quick search on Pinterest will bring up a huge range of beautiful sandblasted images, some bold and simple, some intricate and sculptural.

Contemporary trends lean towards complex patterns and varied gradations of depth in the glass to create a shading effect and some amazing 3D designs. The more intricate a design, the more expensive it will be, but here at KLG we have a large range of bespoke patterns and designs available for all budgets that will meet contemporary as well as more traditional tastes.

What is The Best Way to Clean Frosted Glass?

What sandblasting does is create a beautiful effect on the surface of our glass whilst still letting 97% of the light pass through. However, it also leaves an uneven surface that can trap dirt, so regular cleaning can be important.

Most sandblasted glass will have a protective coating applied to it before it leaves the workshop which will help provide you with long-lasting protection against grime and knocks, but it also means you have to choose your cleaning products carefully. If you choose to use a commercial cleaner, ensure that is not alcohol, ammonia or isopropanol based, as these types of cleaner may remove your protective coating.

We’d recommend making your own water-based glass cleaner with some clean, clear water and a little detergent (think a weak bowl of washing up water). Then simply use a soft, lint-free cloth in a consistent, uniform pattern to avoid distracting smears.

Sandblasted glass can offer a really contemporary look to your home or workplace, as well as some very practical privacy. If you’ve not considered using it before, take a look at our range and see if we can inspire you to bring a little extra beauty into your space.

White Glass Splashback Kitchen

Glass Splashbacks – Your Questions Answered

Sitting at the rear of your work surface, glass splashbacks are designed to protect kitchen walls against moisture, heat and food debris when cooking. We’re not just talking about the obvious spots that you clean up after each session either; the tiny water molecules that would otherwise seep into the wall unseen can cause structural damage over time. Due to their protective nature when it comes to moisture and heat, glass splashbacks are ideal for use in bathrooms too.

Glass, naturally, is a fantastic material for splashbacks. The protection offered by a good splashback, can in the long run, save you considerable amounts of money in remedial building costs. And with an endless array of colours and designs available out there, we’re certain you’ll be able to find one to match your kitchen or bathroom.

But not everyone is familiar with what they’re all about, so we at KLG Glass wanted to answer some of your questions. So, let’s explore splashbacks in a little more detail and discover how they’ll benefit your home.

How are Glass Splashbacks Made?

Glass splashbacks are made from toughened glass – or tempered glass as it’s often known. Glass of this sort is heat-treated for additional strength. It’ll therefore be able to absorb a bit more punishment and heat before they break.

Toughened glass is around five times as strong as normal glass, and, since the exterior is at a slightly different tension to the core, it’ll shatter into tiny, blunt fragments as opposed to shards if it’s smashed. This makes it a safe choice as well as a stylish one.

Is it Possible to Cut a Glass Splashback?

While it’s possible to cut into tempered glass, we wouldn’t recommend it. Once your saw passes through a certain point, the tension between the interior and exterior of the glass will instantaneously resolve – causing it to shatter. In other words, do not cut into your splashback. In doing so, you will ruin it! We would always recommend having a tempered glass splashback made-to-measure, this will eliminate any sizing issues and mean that you’ve got exactly the right size for the space it’s designed for.

Can Glass Splashbacks be Used with Gas Hobs?

Glass splashbacks will work perfectly well with gas hobs, provided that there’s a decent gap between your hot pots and pans and the surface of the glass. As a general rule of thumb, this should be 110mm or more, as measured from the rear of the hob. Repeated cycles of heat and cold will cause the glass to crack, so it’s best to keep the distance between the two as wide as possible.

A gas hob also requires plenty of space on either side. So if you’re looking to install one in a chimney breast for example, 300mm from each wall is a recommended minimum when installing alongside a glass splashback, but for best results you should consider 500mm or more. You’ll also need to be sure that there’s a little space in front so that passers-by aren’t at risk of knocking pots and pans off. If you can’t accommodate your hob without a decent gap around the front, back and sides, then it’s time to consider a smaller hob.

How are Glass Splashbacks Fitted?

Before you even think about installing your splashback, you’ll need to measure up. This means deciding exactly where the splashback is going to be by accurately recording where the cupboards, cooker hoods, sockets and switches are going to be fitted . You’ll need to leave a little bit of room for marginal error here, since altering the size of the glass after it’s been tempered will be impossible.

You can fit your splashback in one of two ways.

  • Screw Fixings
  • Adhesive Fixings

If you elect to secure your splashback with screw fixings, then ensure that the appropriate holes are drilled before the glass is tempered. You should also be careful not to over-tighten the screws, as doing so will risk damaging the glass, which could cause it to crack later down the line. Screw fixings will always be visible, and thus you’ll need to position yours carefully if you want to disguise them.

Using adhesive fixings is more straightforward. There is no need to drill any holes, and there will be no visible fixings. Simply apply the silicone based glue to the rear of the splashback and support it against the wall until the adhesive dries. Given that glue produces a seamless, attractive finish, it’s the approach preferred by many homeowners.

Can a Glass Splashback be Fitted Over Tiles?

What if you’d like to combine the look of a tiled splashback with that of a glass one? Or what if you already have a tiled splashback in place, but you’d like to install a glass one over the top?

There are a few things to consider before attaching a glass splashback to a tiled one. Firstly, note that doing so will create a splashback that’s effectively twice the thickness, which will slightly limit the space available and may mean that your splashback protrudes in places.

This will be especially noticeable around your sockets, which might need to be re-fitted. Secondly, you’ll need to ensure that the tiled splashback is adequately fixed to the wall, as the existing glue will effectively bear the weight of two splashbacks.

We would always recommend the complete removal of any previous splashback (tiled or otherwise) before affixing a new one. This will ensure the walls can be fully prepared before fixing and you don’t run any risk of miscalculating sizes.

How do You Clean Glass Splashbacks?

One of the crowning virtues of the glass splashback is that cleaning them is pretty much effortless. It is, after all, a smooth sheet of glass! With that said, a glass splashback will be expected to be subjected to a punishment of a different sort to, say, a window. It might become spattered with grease, oil and limescale so will need slightly different cleaning methods.

Glass splashbacks do not respond well to abrasive cleaners. Don’t use wire wool or brushes with plastic bristles. Instead use a small amount of gentle glass-cleaner and wipe it with a damp cloth. Allow it to dry gradually, out of direct sunlight. This will reduce the appearance of visible streaks.

If you don’t have any window cleaner to hand, then try a combination of water and distilled vinegar. This will break apart grease molecules, allowing your cloth to lift them away. Use a soft, dry cloth to remove any excess and reduce smears.

As with most domestic chores, it’s best to clean your splashback little and often. Don’t allow grease and dirt to accumulate as this will obviously make it more difficult to get good results each time.

In Conclusion

A glass splashback makes a fantastic addition to the kitchen. Coming in a range of different colours, they’re adaptable, easy to maintain, and effective. What better way could there be to protect your kitchen walls from all of those bubbling stews, boiling pastas and sizzling stir-fries?

What is Safety Glass and What are Its Uses?

Glass is a fantastic invention. It allows us to see into the outside world without having the deal with the weather, while at the same time allowing light to disperse through the interior of a building. Modern architecture wouldn’t be the same without it!

But for all of its considerable advantages, glass does have some downsides – the most obvious of which is its fragility. Without proper treatment, the delicate material has a habit of shattering into razor-sharp fragments with the slightest force.

Fortunately, the technology has come a long way over time and among the most notable improvements has been the development of reinforced, or safety glass as it’s commonly known. This is a special sort of toughened glass that’s been designed to limit the danger without compromising aesthetics. Let’s take a look at it!

What are the Different Types of Safety Glass?

Safety glass comes in several different sorts, of which two stand out as noteworthy: Laminated glass and tempered glass.

Laminated Glass

This sort of glass consists of two panels, between which sits a layer of plastic. In the event of an impact, this layer of plastic holds the fragments in place. This makes it difficult for an intruder to gain access. Also limiting the risk of accidental injury. As such, it’s ideal for settings where security is paramount.

Toughened Glass

Toughened glass is formed under special conditions. It’s heated to around 650°C before being chilled under controlled conditions. This results in a difference in tension between the outside and interior of the panel: the outer layers are squashed while the interior is stretched. This results in a glass that’s much stronger than usual.

Toughened, or ‘tempered’ glass panels are thus widespread in commercial settings. When they shatter, the tension between the interior and exterior causes the panel to crumble into tiny blunt chunks rather than large jagged shards, significantly reducing the chances of injury.

Another variety of safety glass is ‘Georgian wired’. This is constructed in much the same way as laminated glass, except that the interior panel holding everything in place is a wire mesh rather than a transparent plastic sheet. Georgian wired glass is weaker than other varieties, because the wires impinge upon the structure of the surrounding glass, weakening the panel. As such, it’s rarely used today, and serves as a historical curiosity.

Where Should Safety Glass Be Used?

There are several places where safety glass is mandatory. These include safety-critical locations like car windscreens. After all, collisions are unpleasant enough without adding flying shards of glass to the mix. But you’ll also find safety glass panels in museums, shops, glass tables, telephone boxes, bus shelters and fishtanks.

In buildings, safety glass is mandatory in certain places, these are called ‘critical areas’. Critical areas include:

  • Glazed door less than 1500mm from floor level.
  • Any glazed area in a window less than 800mm from floor level.

Windows within 300mm of the door are treated as sidelights, and thus subject to the higher 1500mm limit.

Is it Possible to Cut Safety Glass?

Once toughened glass is tempered, its size and shape cannot be changed. Cut into it and you’ll cause it to shatter into thousands of tiny opaque chunks. While it may be possible to remove a few millimetres from the edge of a piece, this could cause the tempered glass to weaken and ultimately break later down the line. The best solution is to get the glass cut-to-size from the very beginning. Fail to do this, and the chances are that your project will be needlessly delayed.

Laminated glass, on the other hand, can be cut. But it’s a job that requires precision and skill. You’ll need to score the glass on either side before gently moving the panels until they snap along the line. If this sounds a little risky, then it’s probably a better idea to bring a professional in to do the job.

Can you Drill Safety Glass?

Toughened glass is as impossible to drill as it is to cut: it will shatter as soon as the pressure within the glass reaches tipping point. In the case of untampered, laminated glass, two holes must be made on either side of the pane to stop chip marks emanating from the ‘exit wound’ as the drill passes through.

Will Safety Glass Shatter?

One of the major advantages of safety glass is that it will shatter evenly into small pieces, each of which has fewer sharp edges than those that result from a standard window breaking. Businesses prefer it for reasons of liability – if a display case is made from safety glass, it’s far less likely to injure a customer who trips and falls into it.

It’s worth noting that not all shatter-marks are the same. This is especially so in the case of laminated glass. Edge damage which occurs during manufacture, or during a poor installation, will spread to form a visible crack over the course of months or years. For this reason, it’s worth paying the little bit extra required to get the window professionally installed.

Can Safety Glass be Recycled?

When safety glass does break, it tends to be slightly more difficult to recycle than standard windows, which in turn are more difficult to recycle than, say, glass bottles. This is because the glass has a different melting point, and thus is more difficult to separate into usable raw materials.

Don’t chuck it in with the rest of your recycling. Instead, look for a specialist facility, and ask whether they can take the glass off your hands.

Conclusion

So, what have we learned? Safety glass comes in several different sorts to suit a range of purposes. If you’re shopping for a ground-floor door or window, then the chances are that you’ll need toughened (or ‘tempered’ glass). This will shatter into tiny blunt pieces rather than large sharp ones. Proper manufacturing and installation methods will reduce the likelihood of cracks developing after the glass is in place.