The use of large spans of floor-to-ceiling glass windows has become an integral part of modern architecture and contemporary house plans. Once seen primarily in commercial construction, today’s technology has enabled glassmakers to make windows better — more energy-efficient and affordable. Homes with big glass walls continue to be of interest to many people.
In prior decades, glass used to have low energy efficiency and the potential to cause interior damage to home furnishings and carpets from sunlight, whereas now it’s considered one of the staples of modern green building with a financial upside. When building your dream home, it is worth remembering that the environment, efficiencies, and economics all play a role, but as glass continues to improve energy-wise more home builders will be able to embrace it. Nearly all windows installed in new homes these days have an invisible coating that blocks heat and keeps ultraviolet rays from fading the carpet or furnishings.
When it comes to architectural design, today’s builders are being more clever about positioning a home and its roof overhang to capture the most sunlight in winter and block much of the heat from the sun in the summer months. Other builders are now using double or triple-panes with argon or krypton gas placed in between glass panels, which helps insulate those living in cold climates.
If you are considering a contemporary home featuring two stories of glass walls, you might find it of interest that there is an exciting new technology from other glass manufacturers offering a glass pane that has an aluminum dioxide coating. This means it can shed dirt and eliminates water spots. A standard on Andersen Windows glass, for example, the titanium dioxide coating sheds dirt and virtually eliminates water spots.
There is one manufacturer, Hunter Douglas, offering glass that features solar energy sensors that have the ability to automatically raise and lower blinds in response to the amount of sunlight detected. Lutron Electronics offers an iPhone app that remotely controls the movement of window shades. Some glassmakers are even marketing glass windows that can tint or un-tint with the push of a button.
The window treatment manufacturers have also been busy creating shades that make operation less of a hassle. Rotterdam-based Hunter Douglas offers a solar energy sensor that raises and lowers blinds based on the amount of sun detected.
There are other glass tech companies that reduce the need for blinds altogether. Sage Electrochromics Inc. makes clear window panes that morph to a grayish-blue tint when the homeowner flips a switch that sends a low-voltage current across the window. This tint reduces both the glare as well as the heat, but not visibility.
When it comes to glass breakage concerns, check with your local building codes because tempered safety glass must be installed in those areas of a house plan where breakage might be of concern – like windows near a stairway, and glass doors close to the floor.
While many residences employ glass to get the best possible views, there is a wide selection of sliding glass door designs that can take that experience one step further, allowing you to step outside. Glass doors can also serve as a translucent barrier between two rooms to ensure some quiet and privacy.
One term that you may have never heard of is “Black Sashes,” which refers to the frame parts of the glass window holding each pane of glass in place. Some homeowners are painting their sashes black is a classic way to create a dramatic effect in a window design. This look tends to be more common in countryside estates.
Finally, with more recent design trends incorporating expansive open floor plans, this also means the desire to incorporate more natural light into living spaces, so the house plans will require large windows. But when building a new modern or contemporary home, keep in mind that a large expansive picture window is as much about the view in as it is the view out, so remember you must be careful about your presentation to the outside world who can easily look in. Privacy and security will be of concern when your house walls are made of glass.