Glass block windows can be an ideal alternative for traditional windows. It is the perfect option if you need a little privacy or don't care for your view outside but still want to let in natural light and increase energy efficiency.
Even though glass block windows appear to be solid, residential glass blocks are hollow. When the two hollow glass block halves are fused together under heat, the air inside them contracts as it cools. This creates a partial vacuum to increase the insulation level. They become as airtight as an actual wall reducing air filtration and increasing energy efficiency.
Although it slightly lowers the energy efficient qualities, glass block windows can be designed to open and close. Several of the blocks can be small hopper-style windows to provide natural ventilation. There are also other options with vents built into the window.
Real glass blocks tend to be the most energy efficient style but manufacturers have come up with alternative glass materials such as plastic or acrylic block halves. The acrylic (plastic) block simulates real glass block and is often used for architecturally stylish applications. But you do trade the energy efficiency. The heat fusion vacuum is what creates the glass block's energy efficient qualities. Acrylic block halves are not fused under heat when they are assembled, so the partial vacuum is not created.
Glass block windows also add security to your home. First, they are strong and heavy so it would be difficult for a thief to break - at least not without a sledge hammer. Even if a burglar was able to break the window, it is unlikely that he or she could fit through the window. Usually, the blocks don't break together or pop out when they do break.
You can also choose from an array of colors as well as textures to compliment any living environment. Glass blocks can also be used for many aspects of your home such as dividing walls and lighted bars/entertainment areas. Architectural designed living area applications have become very popular allowing lighting to filter through the glass block.
While glass block windows may make a beautiful alternative, they may not work in every situation. If you are adding basement windows to your remodel, your local code officials may require an egress window, or a window for your family to escape through in an emergency like a fire. This is only if there is living space in the basement. See our article on Basement Egress windows for more information.
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