Windows are not just a one-size-fits-all affair. There are many different types of glass that windows can be constructed with. Some glass is built to be stronger and more durable; some glass is built to break into smaller, less dangerous pieces; some glass is more difficult to see through; and some glass is designed to protect the inside from harmful UV rays. Depending on the function and placement of your windows, your glass could be any number of a different host of compounds.
Just as there are different types of glass, there are different methods for cleaning the different types of glass. Knowing what glass your windows are made of and how to clean them properly will give you the best results and ensure your windows are performing to the best of their capabilities. Read on to discover what glass you are likely working with and how best to clean it.
Float glass is glass in its simplest form. Often a plain sheet of glass or it could be also used to make glass sculptures, this glass is very fragile and when it breaks it will fall into large shards that can be quite dangerous. Your windows are unlikely to be made of just float glass, although it can be strengthened with additional heat treatments to transform into a stronger material.
Cleaning float glass is relatively straightforward and your typical glass cleaners will be able to do the job.
Heat-strengthened glass is float glass that has been heated and force-cooled to compress and strengthen the glass. It’s likely that your windows are made with heat-strengthened glass.
Cleaning heat-strengthened glass is similar to cleaning float glass. Any approved window cleaning products should work fine with this glass.
Tempered glass is an upgrade on heat-strengthened glass. This glass is stronger, and friendlier in its break pattern. Tempered glass will shatter into very small pieces rather than large, sharp shards. Tempered glass is often used in high traffic areas and where contact is inevitable. Shop windows and doors often use tempered glass.
Although tempered glass is very strong, it can be scratched more easily than float or heat-strengthened glass. For this reason, use only a high-quality window cleaner and a good microfiber cloth when cleaning tempered glass.
Low emissivity (Low-E) glass contains a special coating that reflects ultraviolet and thermal radiation. Low-E glass works to reflect heat from your house’s interior in the summer, while keeping the heat inside your house in the winter. Reflecting UV rays protects your skin as well as sensitive furniture from fading due to the constant sunlight.
Ammonia-based cleaners are the industry-preferred products for cleaning windows. In the case of Low-E glass, however, you should avoid ammonia because it can strip the reflective coating from the glass. Use window cleaners that aren’t ammonia-based and a soft microfiber cloth to clean Low-E glass.
Understanding what type of glass your windows are made of will help you understand what the best way to clean it is, and how to avoid potentially damaging it in the process. Residential and commercial windows come in different varieties, but your average window is probably made with heat-strengthened glass. If you are unsure what type of windows you are working with, call in the professionals to have your windows cleaned in the precise way that they require.