5 Types of Window Glass for Your Home

When choosing new windows for your home, there’s more than one type of glass to pick from. The most common are Low-E glass, insulated glass units, privacy glass, and impact-rated glass.

The type of glass you need depends on your climate, the direction the window faces, your budget, and your personal preferences. Refer to this overview when deciding on the right type of glass for your windows.


Low-E Glass

Low-E Glass

Low-E stands for low emissivity. On a window, low-E is a microscopic coating that reflects heat. 

Low-E glass acts as an insulator, keeping warmth from escaping the home. One type of Low-E, called solar control, can prevent solar heat from entering the house, which is ideal for warm climates.

There are two types of Low-E glass, and the one best suited for you depends on your climate and the direction your windows face.

  1. Passive Low-E prevents heat from leaking outside the home but allows some solar heat to enter the window. As a result, passive Low-E is ideal for cold climates.
  2. Solar Control Low-E works double-duty. It prevents heat from leaking out of the home but also blocks most of the sun’s rays and stops solar heat from entering the house. Solar Control Low-E is a top pick for warm and mild climates.

Insulated Glass Units

Insulated GlassView in gallery

Insulated glass units are also known as double-paned, double-glazed, triple-paned, or triple-glazed windows. These are the most common types of glass you’ll find in residential spaces.

While insulated glass units are energy efficient, they can also be treated with a Low-E coating to improve their u-factor. 

Here are the types of insulated glass units:

  • Double-pane windows – Double-pane windows feature two sheets of glass, separated by a spacer and containing an air or gas filling between the panes.
  • Triple-paned windows – Triple pane windows feature three sheets of glass, separated by spacers and containing an air or gas filling between the panes.

The space between the panes in IGUs contains air or gas fillings. Gas fillings are denser, providing better insulation. The most common type of gas in double and triple-paned windows is Argon. Krypton and Xenon are sometimes used but are more expensive.


Tinted and Privacy Glass

If you’re after privacy, you can purchase window glass with built-in tint or frosting. Manufacturers can add dark green, blue, brown, or black tints to glass. You can also go for a privacy glass with etching, frosting, or stained glass.

Tinted and privacy glass is ideal for bathrooms or homes in urban areas.


Impact Rated Glass

Impact glass can resist high impact from wind, hail, storms, and falling debris. Impact glass is most common in hurricane-prone areas. If you live in one of these areas, you can get impact glass on your regular windows.


Tempered Glass

Tempered glass crumbles rather than shatters and is also known as safety glass. Some building codes require that windows near doors, stairs, and bathrooms have tempered glass. 


Can You Repair Broken Window Glass?

The most common type of window glass is the insulated glass unit. If the glass on your IGU busts or the seal breaks, you can replace the entire unit by ordering it from your window manufacturer. But you can’t replace just one pane of glass on these windows. 

You can only replace just the glass on single-pane windows.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

What are the types of glass for a sliding window?

The most common types of glass for a sliding window are double-pane, Low-E, and tempered. You can find many options from most window manufacturers.

Can you add film to a regular window to create privacy?

You can add tinted or frosted window film to a window to create privacy. There are many designs you can purchase at an affordable price.

Can you still buy single-pane glass?

Single-pane windows are harder to find than double-pane but are still available for purchase. Single-pane windows remain popular for those working with tight budgets.

Are all windows double-pane now?

Double-pane windows are the most popular. They are energy efficient and the standard in new construction. But even though these windows reign dominant, you can still purchase single or triple pane windows.

Final Thoughts

There are five common types of glass for residential windows, and the type you need depends on where you live and where the window will go. For example, if you live in a hurricane-prone area, you’ll need impact-rated glass, but if you live in a mild climate, you won’t. Also, depending on building codes, you may need tempered glass if a window is within two feet of a door.

No matter where you live, you can purchase an IGU with a Low-E coating for increased energy efficiency. You can choose between double and triple-paned glass.