Some Interesting Facts About Glass

From design to efficiency, windows remain one of the key architectural features of any home or commercial, or public building. Form and function are the twin drivers of good windows, and the importance of windows is just as much a priority now in architectural design as it was hundreds of years ago.

T he first windows were glazed in Roman times which surprises many people. The Romans borrowed glass-blowing techniques from ancient Egypt and are accredited with being the first people to use glass for windows.

The Romans were also the first people to perfect the art of transparent glass, mainly developed so they could admire the colour of their wine! But the transparent nature also proved useful for glazing windows. Before glass was invented, window coverings were commonly made from cloth, animal hide, paper, or thin slices of marble and wood.

The word, ‘window’, originates from the Old Norse/Scandinavian, ‘vingauga’. This word was developed from two words, ‘wind’ and ‘eye’ literally meaning wind eye. The use of the word ‘window’ was recorded as early as the 13th century but actually referred to a hole in the roof.

Glassmaking skills in Europe during the medieval period and beyond struggled to achieve the results that the Romans had managed. The beautiful stained glass that appeared in churches and religious buildings in the 13th and 14th centuries was way ahead of the production of clear, colourless glass which was still proving almost unreachable.

Glassmaking really began to develop in the 18th century when small panes of transparent glass were achievable, and this development was a big part of the rise of distinctive Georgian architecture featuring traditional sash windows with multiple panes.

Fast forward a good few thousand years and double glazing arrives in Scotland in the 19th century, makes sense really when you think about the weather. This version of double glazing was quite crude, just a second sheet of glass inserted into the window, more like secondary glazing as we know it today, but it would have helped. The modern version that we are all so familiar with was invented by C D Haven in 1930 but didn’t become a commercial product until 1952.

What was Window Tax?

Window tax appeared in English and Irish society during the 18th and 19th centuries and was a tax based on the number of windows in a house. Window tax was the architectural version of today’s social media influencers, in that it had a big impact on house design and style. To avoid tax, houses were built with fewer windows and existing properties would have windows bricked up to reduce the bill. Homes with fewer than ten windows were not subject to tax, so this levy was squarely aimed at the homes of the aristocracy and the newest Georgian mansions of the time, both symbols of wealth and status.

Some Key Facts for the 21st Century

  • Windows can account for up to 15% of a home’s wall space
  • More windows rather than less are still considered desirable with a premium on natural light
  • Leaky and draughty windows and skylights account for more than 25% of the average household’s energy bills
  • Skylights increase the natural light in a home by more than 30% compared to vertical windows of the same size
  • Double-hung windows are the most popular style of window in American homes
  • Glass can be recycled indefinitely and not lose its integrity or quality
  • Glass has the quickest turnaround of any kerbside product, back on the shelves in as little as 30 days
  • Recycled glass is called ‘cullet’. Cullet requires a lower heating temperature than new glass made from raw materials so uses 40% less energy during the production process
  • The energy from recycling one glass bottle can power a computer for thirty minutes
  • There are 760 windows in Buckingham Palace – that’s a lot of paint and Windolene! However, that’s nothing compared to the Burj Khalif in Dubai, the highest building in the world standing at 2,717 feet tall and has approximately 34,348 windows. It takes a team of more than 30 people around three months to wash all the windows

We work with modern glass products which offer the dual benefit of excellent thermal regulation in a single lightweight pane, perfect for old sash windows that can’t support heavier glass or double glazing. We repair and refurbish all types of windows on a wide variety of properties and bespoke new designs to faithfully replicate old windows on period properties. We also create modern designs for new homes to suit any taste or budget. Our glazing offers optimal thermal insulation, acoustic control, draughtproofing, and security, all the benefits of modern materials combined with centuries of tradition and the very best craftsmanship.

Contact us here to find out more about the different types of glass we use, our bespoke sash window design, and repair and restoration services.