Blog: Specifying interior glass

Interior glass is a strong and practical solution that can meet both aesthetic and budgetary needs. Here, Joanna Lush of  Gx Glass, explores areas to think about when specifying interior glass to ensure the product adds value to a project and is fit for purpose for its intended end use.

 Interior glass has many different benefits. Minimal maintenance, durability and cost-effectiveness ensure that glass remains a leading solution for a multitude of end uses.

However, specifying glass can pose various challenges with the plethora of thickness and finishes available, as glass requirements vary between each project and an incorrect specification can lead to challenges with safety, installation and lifecycle.

Architects and designers may also have other elements to contend with when drafting a specification, such as needing to meet an increasing number of budgetary and environmental requirements.

It is therefore unsurprising that Andy Jobling at Levitt Bernstein suggests within the 2017 NBS Specification Report report that ‘as no individual can be an expert across all fields of the specification, there is a need for access to the accumulated knowledge and experience of the particular practice and the industry as a whole’.

It stands to reason that no architect can be an expert on every single building product, material, or system. This can lead to generic terms for standard products being used or phrasing such as ‘equivalent or equal to’ that can put the specification at risk. This is of particular importance when dealing with glass products, as they have a huge number of variables as well as a range of factors that can influence performance.

For example, green credentials are paramount to today’s projects. Glass offers a sustainable option as it’s recyclable and furthermore, most glass manufacturers incorporate recycled material called cullet, into the manufacturing process. This reduces both the energy and raw materials used within the supply chain.

With popular products such as back painted glass, environmentally conscious glass manufacturers support environmental standards by using water-based paints that are low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs). This ensures that the painted glass can not only provide a vibrant finish to the customer’s bespoke requirements, but also allows it to be fully recyclable at its end of life.

When specifying a glass product it is also important to consider its lifecycle. Interior glass is incredibly robust, and the product can outlive the building in which it is installed – proving extremely cost effective over its lifespan.

In addition, interior glass can add value to a specification. For example, for a busy commercial environment, coatings can be added to the product to reduce cleaning requirements.

Another area to consider is safety, as ensuring glass has a safety rating helps lower the potential of breakages and injury from broken glass. Solutions including toughening, laminating, heat soaking and safety backing offer varying degrees of impact resistance and strengthening of the glass to enhance safety, while prolonging the product’s lifespan.

Considering these factors and the wide range of products that can be required within a single project, working collaboratively, manufacturers can greatly reduce the risks of incorrectly specifying a product. As such, many leading manufacturers now offer specification services, which include consultancy and prototyping.

By collaborating with a manufacturer that offers prototyping, an end-client is able to access, review and define the right glass type, thickness, colour and finish using customisable products. This can provide significant cost and time-savings within the specification, while creating an approved sample.

This also means that with functional and design requirements identified through specialist expertise interior glass specifications become easier, more navigable and secure. In addition, it also offers peace of mind for the end client, in terms of the design and quality of the final product.

Working collaboratively with a glass expert will ensure the practicalities and lifecycle merits of the branded product are clearly defined within the specification. This can be supported further with manufacturer Building Information Modelling (BIM) data to ensure that the specification is robust and incorporates all the information needed throughout the building’s lifecyle.

Specifying interior glass can be daunting, but by accessing and maintaining consistent expert collaboration, specifying interior glass can be a simple and easy process resulting in the best possible solution for each application.

Joanna Lush is business development manager at Gx Glass