Thursday, November 29, 2012

Go Down This List, and Watch the Price on Your Frameless Shower Fall

Frameless Shower Doors MN
We get a lot of people contacting us, here, at American Glass & Mirror, undertaking a bathroom remodel, who want the modish design of a frameless shower, but don’t want to invest an exorbitant amount of money in it. I offer these customers a few simple pieces of advice that can keep prices from ballooning.

First, go with clear glass. It’s drastically less expensive than pattern glass, but that’s just half the story. I can’t tell you how many customers have come to the sobering realization that they want to show off the brilliant tile they’ve lined the shower enclosure with, only AFTER they shelled out for obscure glass (and even after we warned them!) Pattern glass can create an amazing effect, but think long and hard about the end result it will produce in your bathroom.

Second, make sure walls, seats, and curbs are plumb. Costs can grow considerably when doors and panels need to account for imprecise framing. Square panels are simpler to manufacture, so the cost of labor is cheaper and you’ll see that on your end.

Third, keep fabrication to a minimum. Here again, the less labor intensive the job, the more you’re going to save. We can help you design your frameless shower to reduce the number of claps, hinges, etc. that require special notches to be cut in the glass and drive up cost.

Frameless Glass Shower Enclosure

Lastly, use 3/8” over ½” glass when possible. Customers are often curious whether there are benefits to one thickness over the other. Mostly, it is a matter of personal taste. Some people like the look of a thicker panel; others value a lighter door that requires less effort to swing open. One case, however, where ½” should be used over 3/8” glass, is when an enclosure contains large panels (45” to 60” wide), because thicker glass has reduced flexibility and is less susceptible to roller distortion (a wave-like aberration occasionally found in very large panels.) Special circumstances aside, if you want to save money on your frameless glass enclosure, 3/8” is the obvious choice at roughly 20 percent less the price of ½” glass per square foot.

You don’t need to pawn the toilet in order to afford your ideal shower enclosure. Keep these valuable tips in mind and you’ll have a unit that was reasonably priced but looks like a million bucks.

Monday, November 5, 2012

When your shower needs a bath...

Shower Doors Minneapolis
Back in June, we turned you onto the clarity preserving power of Clear Shield for your frameless showers. That’s well and good for those of you in the market for a new unit, but others might have been left wondering what can be done with the mucky shower currently uglying up your bathroom.

In this posting, we’d like to introduce a winning solution for recapturing the original brilliance of your glass shower door. Bio-Clean Water Soluble Stain Remover, available for retail at American Glass & Mirror, is a mild abrasive gel capable of removing even the most extreme water and mineral stains. Simply apply the product to a cloth, sponge, or brush and rub it firmly into the surface using a massaging motion. Rinse the surface clean and repeat the process if necessary.

Bio-Clean is useful beyond shower glass restoration. It can be applied to any glass surface, such as windshields, windows, and table tops, in addition to various other materials, including tile, stainless steel, chrome, and hard vinyl. Contact us today to learn more about the rejuvenating properties of Bio-Clean and how your shower door can be restored to its former luster.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Divining Mirrors

Replace Mirrors MN

Have you noticed mottled black spots forming around the edges of your mirror? Don’t be too quick to chalk that deterioration up to aging or cheap material; you yourself might unknowingly be the perpetrator of this diminishing effect.

For those who don’t know what gives a mirror its magic, allow American Glass & Mirror to shed some light on the subject. Mirror is constructed by depositing aluminum or silver nitrate on normal plate glass creating the material’s reflective luster. The thin metal layer forms the backing of the mirror and is generally topped with two protective coats of paint.

Aluminum, and to a lesser-degree silver, is susceptible to tarnishing when exposed to various elements, like sulfur, which is a common pollutant in the air. This means it is critical that the paint layer remains intact in order to form a buffer between the metal and corrupting elements.

Be careful what kind of cleaner you use on your mirror! Many household cleaners contain ammonia, an astringent compound, which precipitates the breakdown of the mirror backing. Instead, opt for an alcohol-based cleaner. You can even mix up your own at home by combining denatured alcohol and water (50:50) in a spray bottle. Simple, cheap, and effective.

Don’t be so quick to point fingers when you notice your mirror going bad. First, think about your choice of glass cleaner. Does it contain ammonia? A long look in the mirror might hold the answer to your tarnished image.

Bye Bye Birdie

Perhaps this has happened to you.  You’re sitting at the kitchen table, enjoying a cup of coffee over the morning paper when, THUNK, you’re startled by a single, solid knock to your window.  You look up expecting to see a grinning neighbor or the kids running in fear, but find only your well-manicured lawn sitting undisturbed.  Curious, you lift yourself from the table and move over to the window, where you peer out, trying to spy the culprit.  After a moment’s search the sad truth presents itself – it was a little wren that struck the glass and disturbed your peace.  Now, the bird lies motionless in the lawn below.
Scenes similar to this occur hundreds of times each day, most often without witness. According to the American Bird Conservancy, millions of birds are fatally wounded each year through collisions with window glass.  Even if the little creature shakes off the blow, and flies off apparently unharmed, it may later succumb to internal damages.

The vast majority of these unfortunate deaths could be avoided if homeowners took it upon themselves to crash-proof their windows.  Birds fly into window glass because it appears to them to be an open passage to safety.  The most reliable way to deter this instinct is by breaking up the empty plane into smaller segments.  This can be achieved by creating designs with Tempera paint or decorative tape strips, or mostly simply, by keeping blinds or shades partially closed.  The window segments should be broken down into areas no larger than one square foot.  Applying decals or hanging prisms and other window charms are two more sound approaches to crash-proofing.  Once again, you want to place these objects within one square foot of each other to break up the open space.

Although these accident-reducing tactics will keep your neighborhood birds flying straight, it is unfortunate to lose an unimpeded window pane. Certainly, this is a sacrifice not easily made, and one probably unnecessary except for in high-volume bird areas.  Two further options that would allow you to retain your unobstructed view, while offering protection to birds are window netting and protective film.  Although, American Glass & Mirror does not offer these products, we would be happy to help direct you to available retailers.

Migratory birds have a long and perilous journey to make this fall. Countless dangers await them along the way; make sure your kitchen window isn’t one of them.

Friday, September 28, 2012


Frameless Shower Doors MN

Tune in Monday night to DIY Network’s bathroom revamp program, “Bath Crashers.” For those of you not familiar with the show,  basically the host, Matt Muenster, provides some randomly selected folks shopping for remodeling supplies, the opportunity to have their bathroom done up by his team of professionals. This episode features an Eden Prairie couple getting their claustrophobic basement bath 180'd into a sleek, gym/spa inspired sanctuary, complete with sauna, juice bar, and various other amenities. The American Glass team provided the double-doored, steam shower for this reinvented space. Heavy glass and multi-paneled, this shower will emit an aura of calm after a vigorous workout, especially when filled with an enveloping, sensuous mist. Dial-in DIY Monday night and see what’s possible for your tired bathroom design.

The American Glass & Mirror episode of “Bath Crashers” airs Monday October 1, 2012 at 9:30 PM.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Windshield Repair - Chips on the Table

Auto Glass Repair MN
Composite Chip (Star + Bull's-Eye)

It’s hard being a windshield in Minnesota.  Extremes in weather force the rigid glass to contract and expand like water, while the hail and ice that follow these swings in temperature pummel your vehicle without mercy.  Then, of course, there are the vehicles on the road which seem bent on destroying your defenseless auto glass.  You know the ones:  summertime gravel trucks bouncing along, sharing their load with the cars in their wake, or winter’s snowplow, keeping our roads safe, but pitting your windshield in a whoosh of rock laden slush.

Few Minnesota drivers escape more than a year or two without finding a chip or a crack in their vehicle’s glass.  Although a small chip can appear benign enough, if it goes unrepaired, an afternoon baking in the sun or a morning frost can cause that little star to spider out into a major problem for you – a potential $118 fine in this state, not to mention the safety hazard it poses.

Auto Glass Replacement MN
Star Chip
Auto Glass Repair Minneapolis
Half Moon or Half Bull's-Eye
American Glass & Mirror can help you avoid the need for replacement by repairing the chip or crack before it expands.  Our technicians drill a hole into the blemish and inject a clear acrylic resin that cures by UV light.  This process restores the integrity of the glass, thereby preventing further damage, and generally reestablishes its clarity.  It should be noted that several factors could diminish the chances of achieving complete transparency, including the age and type of chip.   If you are not pleased with the outcome of the repair, then the cost will be credited to a windshield replacement.

Auto Glass Replacement Minneapolis
Bull's-Eye Chip

Interspersed throughout the blog have been photos of common types of repairable chips – star and partial bull’s-eyes being the best candidates for complete restoration.  Below is a photo of an irreparable chip, referred to in the industry as a “coke bottle” chip.  Two other instances that would prevent repair are damage that is larger than two to three square inches (roughly the size of a credit card) and damage occurring within the driver’s line of vision.  Aside from these minor restrictions, any chip or crack should be repairable.
Windshield Repair MN
Coke-Bottle Chip  (Irreparable)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Photo Courtesy of Robert Banks
This summer has been a trying one for much of West Africa. With rainfall well-below the seasonal average, the rainy season failed to live up to its name, leaving the ground parched and cracked, and ill-suited to nourish the young crops which locals will need to sustain them through the coming year. To further complicate matters, the lack of moisture, in conjunction with the high seasonal winds that annually descend from the Sahara, have made the air opaque with dust, covering the fledgling crops and blocking out the sun.

At least one small portion of sub-Saharan Africa has remained largely unaffected by the drought. The Central River Region in the Gambia (a narrow country wedged into the belly of Senegal on the West African coast) has benefited from the efforts of the Minnesota based non-profit, WAVE (West African Village & Environment Project.) This organization was started by Matthew Selinske, a former Peace Corps volunteer who continues to work there, with the help of his parents, Guy and Mary. Because Matthew lives in the region and his family members serve as executive board members for the non-profit, there are no administrative fees, so all proceeds go directly to helping the people of this beleaguered region.

Photo Courtesy of Robert Banks

WAVE has undertaken several significant projects since its founding in 2008. Its first major contribution to the area was the construction of a new kitchen for the Sinchu Gundo primary school, which allowed for safe and sanitary food preparation and continued participation in the World Health Organization's food program. Other initiatives include student tuition sponsorship and community gardens, which have allayed the effects of the drought and secured villagers' health during this arduous period. These well-irrigated garden oasisses were made possible by WAVE's most celebrated undertaking, the installation of hand-pump wells in four local villages, which supply the communities with safe drinking water and a source of hydration for their crops. Thanks to generous donations by Rotary International, The Steven Luethold Family Foundation, and private donors, WAVE has so far allocated nearly 10,000 dollars to this project and plans on gradually increasing the number of wells installed annually.

Photo Courtesy of Robert Banks
Guy and Mary Selinske, owners of American Glass & Mirror, have rallied the support of family, friends, and local businesses and organizations to bring attention and resources to this worthy cause. Thanks to their hard work and the generosity of many others, the people of the Central River Region will no longer be maligned by the water-born illnesses common to much of West Africa, or the egregious level of uncertainty that accompanies life in undeveloped nations. If you would like to learn more about the work of WAVE, or care to donate, please visit the website at:

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Restoring Your Shower Metal

In my last entry, I discussed a preventative solution offered by American Glass & Mirror for avoiding imperfections on your shower door glass. This time I'll delve into what can be done to maintain and recapture the sheen of any metal hinges, clips, or u-channel supporting your shower.

Hardware comes in a wide variety of finishes (brushed nickel, satin chrome, antique bronze, etc.), but all of them are equally susceptible to developing water spots or soapy buildup. In addition, many of them have special finishes which become tarnished when cleaned with the harsh astringents contained in many household cleaners. Fortunately, there are cheap and simple solutions to restoring metal to its original luster. A simple mixture of dish soap and warm water is a good starting point. If a more potent concoction is required, head to the kitchen for a bit of white or cider vinegar. Mix a ½ cup of vinegar with the same amount of warm water in a spray bottle. Apply the solution and let it sit for about 30 seconds. With a damp cloth, scrub the surface clean, then rinse thoroughly with clean water – left over vinegar could eat away at the metal! Wipe the metal dry when you've finished.

There are many variations to this method: rubbing lemons on the metal, applying ketchup – you can utilize anything moderately acidic. Try more than one if you're not getting the results you desire. In instances of rust or heavy corrosion more drastic measures may need to be taken. For some finishes, such as chrome, scrubbing with aluminum foil doused with vinegar can be the ticket.

One exception to the vinegar approach is oil-rubbed bronze, a very popular finish at the moment. Using anything beyond soap and water could alter its unique appearance. In order to retain the vintage character of this material, I would advise applying a layer of carnauba wax (also known as Brazil wax) to the metal and then buffing with a soft cloth after the wax has dried.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Glass Unseen - Keeping your glass shower door blemishless

Neo Angle Heavy Glass Shower

Heavy glass shower doors have redefined contemporary bathroom d├ęcor with their unimposing presence and utilitarian aesthetic. This spartan design relies upon the vacant, yet lustrous planes of heavy glass supported by a limited system of durable hardware. Because the appeal of these units lies in their spectral appearance, nothing is more unbecoming than water spots, soap and scum build-up, and corroded metal – fortunately, these defects are easily avoidable.

To help maintain pristine doors and panels, American Glass & Mirror offers a pre-installation treatment of Clear Shield, an environmentally-friendly protectant, effective up to ten years. This product establishes a buffer between the glass and water, making it easy to squeegee or wipe dry. It is important to note that this does not eliminate the need for drying after use, but greatly increases its effectiveness and requires no astringent cleaners. Without Clear Shield, these units are vulnerable to unhygienic build-up, etching caused by minerals in the water, and eventual clouding. This one-time treatment is the first step towards ensuring that your glass retains its unblemished beauty, thereby protecting your substantial investment.

In addition to retaining the flawless look of your glass, it is also important to keep metal hinges, clips, or U-channel looking clean and polished. In the next blog, I will discuss the proper way to care for the metal in your heavy glass shower.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Sticker Removal

Getting old stickers off of vehicles can be a bit of a nuisance. Our glass technicians are often asked by customers if it's possible to transfer valid state park permits from an old windshield to a new one intact, or how to remove a weathered Metallica sticker off the back glass of their son's pickup they plan on selling. We've heard tale of people using everything from Goo Gone to sandpaper – most attempts ending in a mangled sticker and a mess to boot.

There are a couple of sure-fire methods to removing adhesives from your windshield, depending on whether or not you intend on keeping the material intact. If you're trying to get an expired permit off your glass scratch-free, you'll need to pick-up a few razorblades from a local hardware store and some sort of lubricating solution (we use American Glass & Mirror glass cleaner, but Windex, or a mixture of ammonia and water would also do the trick.) Simply soak the sticker with the glass cleaner thoroughly, then run the blade on the surface of the glass along one edge of the sticker. Once you've lifted a small portion off the glass, gently pull up on the sticker while continuing to swipe the blade along the removal line. Typically, you can get it off in one piece without too much effort – if you're struggling, try further saturating the sticker.

When trying to remove an item you'd like to preserve, such as a current parking permit, the process is fairly similar – you're still going to make firm swipes with your razorblade. Instead of applying the glass cleaner, in this instance you'll need 3M blue masking tape (there are probably other brands that will function just as well – just make sure the tape isn't overly adhesive, or you're going to have to figure out how to get the sticker off the tape later on, and that's a whole other headache.) Using strips of the tape, completely cover the item. Now, use the same technique described earlier until the sticker has been removed. Make sure you use new razors or you might end up with a scratched windshield, or in the very least, wasting more time on this project than necessary.

Once you've successfully removed the sticker, you can try to adhere it to your new windshield. Generally this works out, but you might need reinforce it with tape if it falls off, or depending on who issued the sticker, you can sometimes exchange it for a new one.