Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Quality Matters

auto glass safety minneapolis

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I feel compelled to once again stress the fact that your windshield is a vital piece of your vehicle’s safety system. That is why it is SO IMPORTANT that you have a reputable glass company replace your windshield. There are characters out there that will put in a used windshield for you at a fraction of the price of well-established companies. In the industry, they’re known as “A Guy and A Van Operation” – someone with no overhead that can do a job on the real cheap-cheap. But that bargain price comes with a different kind of price tag far more costly than any monetary sum, the safety of you and the people you care about traveling in your vehicle every day.

Since these questionable outfits make so little on a replacement, they need to bang out as many jobs in the day as possible. Jobs are rushed and widely accepted safety standards are ignored because they want to save time, haven’t received proper training, or aren’t members of industry organizations that enforce rigorous safety regulations. On top of that, this kind of operation offsets their bargain prices by cutting costs on materials. That means they will gladly install a used windshield for you, whether you know that’s what you’re getting or not, plus all other components essential to a safe installation can be second-rate in quality – cheap or old adhesives, inferior moldings, etc.

That’s why it is critical that you do a quick bit of research before deciding on what glass company you want to replace your windshield. These days we spend hours looking into what kind of phone or lawnmower will best suit our needs, reading reviews and checking out product comparisons – don’t you think something as integral to your car’s safety system as the windshield deserves a few minutes of perusing Google, Dex Reviews, and the like, as well?

We really don't want to win your business using scare tactics. That is not the purpose of this posting. No matter whether your looking for auto glass in MN, or any other part of the country, know that this is a valid concern. Take a look at the links below if you're skeptical. The first looks at investigative reporting done by 20/20 and FOX NEWS about faulty windshield replacement, the second is just a quick Youtube clip that shows the results of hiring the wrong guys for the job.

safe windshield installation minnesota

Monday, October 7, 2013

Steamy Love Story

steam shower minneapolis
photo from: Menifee Body Shop Blog

I’m not a morning person. I’m not really an evening person either; truth be told there are only a handful of hours in a day that I’m firing on all cylinders. Like most other morning-challenged people, I have a switch that needs flipping before I’m able to reboot, allowing me to recognize myself in the mirror and acknowledge fellow beings stumbling through the morning ether. For some, that switch is coffee, others a brisk workout, for me it’s a hot shower that thaws the dormant neurons and gets the mind humming again.

Since I've been old enough to prepare myself for the day, a screaming hot shower has always been the cornerstone of my morning ritual. Stepping into a shower enclosure is entering a place of comfort and warmth, of solace and rejuvenation. We are ourselves in that space, liberated from the weight of existence (clothing too…), entering with the scent of decay and emerging fresh and revived. We belt out a tune, we have a eureka moment, we close our eyes and feel the comfort of our liquid cocoon.

Not all showers lend themselves to such shameless romanticism. I can remember a time back in the dorms in college, being forced to scrub down in drafty communal showers, flip-flop clad and shower basket in tow, or the days in my first apartment where the water pressure was so pathetic, the drooling showerhead was hardly capable of rinsing the shampoo suds from my hair. In fact, I’d say that I didn't truly understand the full potential of what a shower can do for the body and soul until I stepped into a steam shower for the very first time. Here's how the love affair began...

Having just endured an hour long deep tissue massage at a local spa, I made my way all jelly-legged to the shower room, where, waiting behind a single heavy glass door surrounded by tight fitting gaskets, an enigmatic, yet inviting mist loomed ready to engulf me.  I’d spent a fair amount of time detoxing in steam rooms in the past, so I wasn't anticipating anything beyond your run of the mill schvitz.  Once inside, that notion quickly passed as I was simultaneously greeted by two of life’s most delightful sensations. A soul sustaining stream of hot water rained down upon me, while eddies of minute water droplets whirled through the air, soothing my throat and opening my pores. As the warmth seeped from flesh to bones, so did the revelation that no other shower could offer me such holistic therapy. I knew I would never again be fully satisfied by my morning rinse until I possessed this pinnacle of indoor plumbing.

Fortunately, being in the glass industry, it didn't take long to make this dream a reality. Now I enjoy the benefits of my own steam shower:  melting away the coating of sleep each morning, helping me decompress after a vigorous workout, or unwinding the coil of a stressful workday. Its nurturing ways are always there for me when I need it most. There are times when I'm forced to slum, a quick scrub down in a second-rate motel bathroom or haphazardly washing off whatever is floating in the community pool, and I'm always left feeling sullen and unsatisfied. These transgressions only serve to reinforce my adoration for the elegant steam shower, queen of my clean and rejuvenated heart.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Stand Off Mirrors Stand Out Like No Other Bathroom Element

The bathroom mirror in your home shouldn’t just reflect your image when you look into it, it should also show your design tastes and echo the motif of the space it occupies.  A mirror can be displayed in numerous ways to cultivate the look you want for your bathroom. For instance, a regal Louis XIV gilded frame hanging commandingly over a vanity is going to make a far different statement than a simple, unframed mirror fastened to the wall by austere chrome clips. Each style mirror has its natural place, although sometimes you might have the urge to take a risk. What about throwing that Louis XIV piece into a stripped down modernist bathroom setting? A statement would definitely be made – whether or not that statement is appreciated is another matter altogether…

A new mirror design trend has emerged over the past couple of years that you might have encountered on Pinterest or Houzz and the like. The “standoff” or “floating” mirror has taken off in a big way recently. This is generally a no-frills, unframed mirror thrust out from the wall anywhere from ½” to a few inches giving it the illusion that it is hovering in air. Because it does not lay flush with the wall, the sharp lines that inform the mirror’s perimeter are emphasized and the mirror achieves a presence that is not typical to unframed pieces as it breaks free from the wall plane.

Standoff mirrors rely upon special hardware or a surface built out from the attachment wall to achieve the “hover” effect. If you want to go the hardware route, metal pegs secure the corners through holes drilled into the mirror fixed to round fasteners on the mirror’s surface. This option is only possible for smaller pieces, otherwise the mirror’s weight places too much stress on the holes and crack-outs are likely. The built out approach is achieved by attaching addition material (extra drywall or 2x4s) to the surface behind the mirror and adhering hangers to the reverse side of mirror for mounting.

It’s possible to push the novelty of standoff mirrors even further by incorporating sandblasted elements and stark lighting, techniques that owe gratitude to the conceptual artwork of pioneers, like James Turrell and Olafur Eliasson. Sandblasting and mirror lighting play together winningly; creating a warm, diffuse glow as light filters through the opaque sandblasted portions. This effect can be used in a number of charming ways, such as “the framed look” or “counter-relief lighting”. Check out examples of each below.

Framed-Look/Counter-Relief Lighting

Of course, some people skip the sandblasting altogether and just let the lighting create the drama. Notice, in the photo above, how it spills out over the edges of the mirror like a morning sun breaking the horizon. Forgive the attempt at poetry, but this lighting does smack of the Epic. Now back to the mundane - if you want to produce as similar effect in your new bathroom, remember to talk to your electrician about how to ready the space for backlighting and what kind of lights will work best.

Stand-off mirrors can add a contemporary edge to a bathroom, especially when sandblasting or creative lighting is incorporated. They also complement other contemporary pieces, like frameless showers, perfectly. Whether this look will age a bathroom in the future remains to be seen. My hunch is that this style of mirror display will become a new classic. Either way, for the time being, standoffs standout like no other bathroom feature.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Broken Windshield... No Reason To Crack-Up (II)

The previous posting, we explored the benefits and drawbacks of windshield repair vs. windshield replacement. Today, we’ll pick off where we left off and walk you through the rest of the replacement process.

Making the Call
Once you have supplied your glass company with some basic information (policy number, vehicle make and model, etc.), one of two things will happen. Depending on your insurance company, your work may be finished at this point. Some companies allow us to take your information and file the claim for you – easy as pie. Other insurance companies employ a third party administrator (TPA) to register claims, and they make things a tad more complicated. Easiest case scenario, the TPA allows your agent to make a three-way call with us, leaving you off the hook. Other TPAs want to speak to the customer directly, so you’ll need to make the call with us, but don’t worry, we’ll give you the run-down on what questions to expect and how best to respond.

Your Right To Choose
There is one TPA that also happens to be a glass company, the largest auto glass company in the U.S. actually (which might seem like a conflict of interest, and that’s because it is!) Safelite frequently uses “steering” to try to persuade or frighten the insured into using their glass company or another company on their network. Their common approach is telling you they can’t warranty our work and that you may incur addition charges. The first claim is true, but irrelevant, because American Glass & Mirror offers its own warranty. The second claim is purely false. If you have full-glass coverage, you won’t pay one red cent over the cost of your deductible. You, the insured, have the right to choose whatever glass company you’d like, so don’t let yourself be intimidated by these industry bullies!

Your Appointment
After we’ve gotten the go ahead from your insurance company, we’re all ready to install. During your initial call, we set up a convenient time for your replacement. Depending on the windshield, this process takes about an hour and your vehicle needs to sit for another hour to allow the adhesives time to set up. We come to you, work, home, anywhere, so there is no interference to your schedule.

As you’ve discovered, windshield repair and replacement is nothing to fret about. It’s not a trip to the dentist or an audit, it’s even less demanding than an oil change because glass companies come to you, at your convenience! Next time your windshield catches a rock on a sunny day, keep the storm clouds at bay, remember that American Glass & Mirror is just a phone call away!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Broken Windshield? No Reason To Crack-Up...

It happens to all of us sooner or later. Cruising down a sun-drenched road, enjoying a blend of radio and warm summer air rushing through, when out of the blue,**CRACK!**, your trance is broken by a rock flung off a dump truck passing in the opposite lane. It’s a uniquely unpleasant sound, but immediately identifiable, especially when it leaves behind a spidery stamp of impact.

Auto Glass Service Minneapolis

Don’t let it ruin your day! If you have glass coverage on your vehicle, getting your windshield fixed is a completely painless process. Call American Glass & Mirror, or another reputable glass company (best to follow the “Goldie Lock’s Rule” – not too big and not too small to ensure great service and safe installation) and we will DEAL WITH THE INSURANCE COMPANY FOR YOU. If you’re not certain about your policy status, we’ll contact your insurance company and figure out if you have glass coverage.

Repair or Replace?
The first thing to determine is whether you need to have your windshield repaired or replaced. Repairs are an especially attractive option if you have a sizable deductible or lack full coverage. Additionally, if you are environmentally minded, you might prefer a repair since it greatly reduces energy waste and the need for windshield disposal. There are two basic criteria that need to be met in order for a repair to be possible. A) Following industry standards, the chip or crack cannot be in the driver’s line of vision. Take a piece of printer paper and hold it up vertically against the windshield at eye-level. If the damage is within this area, then the windshield will have to be replaced. B) The size of the fracture, including any cracks extending from the point of impact, should be no larger than a credit card.

If neither of these concerns apply to you, then you’re free to have your windshield repaired. Some people still opt for a replacement because it is not guaranteed that the chip will vanish completely. The resin injected into the fracture will prevent it from further spreading, but it doesn't always make the blemish disappear (this can be a problem particularly with old or complex chips.) That said, most simple fractures clear up nicely or are only noticeable from certain angles.

Once you’re ready to have your windshield serviced, call American Glass & Mirror, or another one of the “good guys” (remember your windshield is an integral part of your vehicle’s safety system, so choose a company that has sterling reviews, employs certified installers, and uses OEM parts), and we’ll take your basic information, including: vehicle make, model, and year, date of damage, etc. – so we’re ready to work with your insurance company and make the whole process as seamless as possible.

Next posting, we’ll pick up where we left off and walk our way through the rest of the process, so you can see how non-disruptive windshield service should be.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Be An Expert - The Easy Way...

There are quite a few details to consider when preparing your bathroom for a frameless shower enclosure. If you go about it the wrong way you could face significant leakage, soaring costs, or even worse, a malfunctioning shower door. Listed below are some simple tips that can help you avoid unneeded headaches and expenses.

Breaking the monotony of patterned tile can be achieved with subtle flourishes like an overhang. While this might bring some welcomed visual dynamics to a shower enclosure, it can cause major problems for your door or glass panels. For knee walls, make sure there is no overhang on the hinged side of the door which might interfere with its range of motion. If you’re going with just a door, overhanging decorative tiles can disrupt its movement, so make sure your tile is flush. In order to reduce labor costs, avoid overhang on seats on which a fixed panel will rest. This eliminates the need for notching the tile where the panel meets the vertical portion of the seat.

Showerhead Placement
Some people are hesitant to go with a frameless shower because they imagine their bathroom floor turned into a tiled floodplain as endless water escapes through the gaps between the glass. This doesn’t occur in a properly designed and sealed enclosure. The main culprit of spray out is a poorly placed showerhead. Never position your showerhead directly across from the door since the hinge and handle side gaps are the only unsealed ones in the unit. This would allow water a straight shot through the 3/16” openings out of the enclosure. You want the shower stream flowing perpendicularly to the door so any water that does hit the gaps is coming at an angle, making the pathway for water loss negligible.

Panel Width
Whether you’re remodeling or starting from scratch, it’s fun to get creative with your shower enclosure design. Customers come up with some pretty elaborate layouts knowing that the glass can all be custom ordered to fit their unique design. One major logistical consideration to bear in mind when planning a frameless enclosure is that the minimum width of tempered glass panels is 3½”. Another point of note is that 3/8” panels wider than 38” are susceptible to roller distortion. Roller distortion is a wavelike aberration that occurs in the glass as a result of the cooling process. If it is present in panels around 38”, it will most likely be very subtle, but it can become quite extreme as panel widths substantially increase. If your design requires panels wider than 48” you’ll want to consider ½” glass for its resistance to roller distortion, as well as, safety concerns.

For an expanded guide, with many other tips and helpful illustrations, visit our BUILDER'S GUIDE TO FRAMELESS SHOWERS.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Rid Your Insulated Glass of Moisture, The Eco(nomically) Friendly Way

Last posting, we examined the components of an insulated glass unit (IGU) and discussed the role each plays in maintaining energy efficiency in your home. Today, we’ll focus on how moisture can find its way into the unit, and what you can do about it without facing a whopping bill for new windows.

Window Moisture MN

The Break Down
Water is relentless – if there’s even a pinhead’s width opening in a surface, water will filter through. The polysulfide sealant that holds a unit together is an organic material, and like all organic material, it is subject to decay over time, creating an increasing number of fissures for moisture to permeate. Fortunately, desiccant forms a rear guard against this encroachment. It absorbs the invasive moisture until it reaches maximum saturation. At this point, there are no more protective measures and condensation will begin to build up. Typically, this will lead to a “clouding” of the glass as it is gradually etched by minerals contained in the water. Deterioration occurs in varying amounts of time across IGUs; we’ve seen poorly manufactured units that have gone bad after a few years, but most are designed to last a decade.

Addressing the Obvious
Maybe you’re not all that interested in the ins and outs of insulated glass. You’ve got foggy windows and you want to talk options. We'll get to that in just a moment, first we need to address some "no-duh" issues that arise. I’ll start with the most obvious… make sure condensation is occurring inside the unit (between the panes) and not on the interior surface of the window. It is rather self-evident, but it needs to be stated because we actually get quite a few calls about this.  There’s nothing wrong with your window if moisture collects on the pane facing the inside of your home – this is usually a result of excessive moisture inside your home.

Second obvious point - check your warranty. Most IGUs are covered for 10 years. Contact the window manufacturer as soon as you notice moisture collecting.

The Good News
First, it is completely unnecessary to replace the entire window when fogging occurs. American Glass & Mirror can come out and replace only the IGU for 25 percent the cost of a new window!

The Even Better News
mn window repair
minneapolis window repairSecond, if your windows haven’t started to turn cloudy from mineral etching, then they’re probably good candidates for the revolutionary RenuVu process. RenuVu is a two-step solution to returning your windows to a state of clarity. First, our technician drills a tiny hole in the corner of the IGU and removes the existing moisture with a drying agent.  Next, a clear, one-way valve is placed in the hole to help any new moisture escape. This reengineering process offers immense savings over replacement, especially on large or non-rectangular units. Additionally, it is without a doubt THE OPTION OF CHOICE for the environmentally concerned, reducing waste and energy use. RenuVu , available only at American Glass & Mirror, is GREEN-FRIENDLY, that's green in your wallet and green of the earth.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Window Moisture

window moisture
Very few people ever take note of the window glass in their home, which is not surprising considering the nature of the material - it is there specifically NOT to be seen. It is, however, an important component of a building's exterior cosmetically and integral to its energy efficiency.

Insulated glass is a unit formed by bonding two glass panes together with a sealant (more on this later.) Generally, this material only gains the attention of homeowners once it starts to break down and make itself visible in the form of condensation build-up. We've all seen it, water droplets forming a halo in the middle of a window - it might even strike you as beautiful at first, but as time passes the moisture becomes permanent and eventually gives way to an ugly chalky build-up that muddles your view and reduces the value of your home.

In this two-part blog posting, we'll take a look at the make-up of insulated glass units (IGUs), what causes moisture infiltration, and what cost saving measures are available for restoring your windows to their original clarity.

What Am I (Not) Looking At?
Like I mentioned above, the basic components of an IGU are two pieces of glass separated by a spacer and held together by sealant - not exactly exciting stuff, but important to energy conservation in your home. Let's look a little closer at the individual parts and how they can effect your energy bill.

insulated glass replacement

IGUs found in homes typically use 3/32" to 1/4" glass. The thicker the glass, the less thermally conductive the unit. When the temperature outside drops thinner, more flexible glass bows inwards, decreasing the distance between the two panes thus facilitating heat transfer. In some extremely thin units the panes actually flex so severely that they touch in the center.

Another important feature to note is low-E coating, which is an add-on component, not found on every IGU. This reflective coating, applied to the glass during manufacturing, greatly reduces the heat absorbed through the unit by deflecting a portion of the sunlight, keeping your house cooler during the summer months. Low-E is applied to the inside of the exterior pane so it can provide the most protection possible without allowing it to degraded by the elements. Low-E is particularly useful in windows located near a valuable piece of furniture or a treasured family heirloom, because it blocks out harmful UV rays.

The last thing to bare in mind with IGU glass is whether or not it is tempered. Tempered glass is heat strengthened and therefore less susceptible to breakage due to heat stress. You'll know your glass is tempered if you find a small block of white print in a corner referred to in the glass industry as a "bug". Like low-E, tempered glass will substantially increase the cost of the unit.

As the name would imply, the spacer is used to separate the glass panes, but it also plays a role in reducing thermal conductivity. Spacers are typically made from either aluminum or structural foam and there are advantages unique to both. Aluminum is a durable material but also highly conductive when there is no barrier between it and the glass. Our company uses aluminum, but the units are dual-sealed with butyl tape which forms an insulated barrier between the materials and resists energy transfer. Structural foam is able to achieve the same low thermal conductivity, but lacks the strength of aluminum.

In the diagram above, you'll notice that the spacer is hollow and packed with minuscule balls. This highly-absorptive material is called, desiccant, and prevents moisture build-up in the unit.

Around the perimeter of the spacer and between the edges of the glass, a polysulfide sealant is used to hold the unit together and further insulate it against energy exchange.

Air/Monatomic Gas
The space between the two panes is filled with either dry air or a gas that has low thermal conductivity. The most common gases used for insulation purposes are argon and krypton; argon has 67%  the thermal conductivity of air, while krypton has half the conductivity of argon. These gases can increase the energy efficiency of your home, but you definitely pay for that benefit up front.

Next posting: What's causing moisture build-up and what can be done about it.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

High Water Marks - Two Brands Giving the Best Value in Glass Protectant

glass protectant mn
A few months ago, American Glass's Lite Revelations gave you the skinny on the clarity retainment  product ClearShield that can keep your glass shower enclosure looking lustrous and pristine. Today, we’ll explore another worthwhile answer to the mineral etching and scummy build-up that can taint the pièce de résistance of your designer bathroom.

showerguard mnShowerguard is a permanent coating ionically-bonded to the glass which seals the surface and assists in preventing chemical corrosion and scale build-up. The limits of human eyesight allow us believe the surface of glass to be smooth and uniform, but place a fleck under an electron microscope and you’ll see that an amoeba would tell you otherwise. As you'll notice in the photo above, at this level of magnification the material is anything but even, with plenty of crags for coercive elements to nestle into and produce that milky etching that takes over an unmaintained shower door. Showerguard effectively seals the glass surface with a thick coating, filling the microscopic crevices, and offering protection from foreign elements. The coating is densely fused to the panel during the tempering process, which provides permanent protection, never calling for retreatment.

Bottom-line, which is the best product for your shower door? Well, with both sealants adding the same maintenance and hygienic benefits, that largely depends on the size of your enclosure. ClearShield is a flat fee up to 44 sq. ft, while Showerguard is priced by the square foot, so if you just need a door, or a door and a small panel, Showerguard might be the way to go. For anything beyond that, the pricing scale of Showerguard will greatly surpass that of ClearShield.

Other factors that might weigh into your decision are warranty and environmental concerns. With a lifetime-warranty, Showerguard is the clear winner in that category, compared to the ten-year warranty of ClearShield (although both are impressive.) In regards to the environment, both products eliminate the need to use astringent cleaners that end up down the drain and in our water supply, but only ClearShield highlights on its website the fact that it uses only non-hazardous materials. Now, that’s NOT to say that Showerguard does use harmful materials, it’s just reassuring that ClearShield states unequivocally that it is a safe product.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

2013 Home & Garden Show


Looking for innovative products, new ideas, and practical advice for your new home or remodeling project? Want to keep up on what’s happening in the world of home design? How about needing something amusing to do on a winter’s day? With hundreds of remodeling, home improvement and gardening experts all under one roof, you can’t go wrong with the Minneapolis Home & Garden Show!

Come say hi to us, at the American Glass & Mirror Booth 3700, and let us know what you think of our sizeable frameless shower door display – an impressive collection of styles and designs. And don’t forget to check out our Essence Series Frameless Sliding Door on Innovation Avenue, recognition we won for our game changing product - we’re pretty psyched!

Check out the promo below to find out when you can catch celebrity appearances and how to pick up tickets on the cheap. The button at the bottom will bring you to the website.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Glass Up Your Home (Part IV)

glass counter minneapolis

If you’ve been keeping up with our “Glass Up Your Home” blog series, then I’m sure you’ve noticed a common thread running through the posts: OPTIONS. There are a vast range of glass types available, each with special properties that will modify your home décor in unique and surprising ways. It’s all a matter of finding what best suits your stylistic leanings. Today’s post is no exception. Because of the great variety of glass counter tops available, you’re sure to find one that jives with the look and feel of your kitchen space.
What you’ll gain from incorporating a glass counter top into your home, is a lustrous surface that gives the impression of delicate elegance yet is deceptively robust and durable. You might think that a glass surface in the kitchen would be a disaster due to its susceptibility to cracking and scratching. In truth, glass used for counters runs thick (generally 3/8” to 1”), so even you klutzes and butterfingers needn’t shy away. Additionally, the glass can be treated with an anti-scratching treatment that keeps the surface as pristine as the day it was installed.

Stand-Off Counters
glass counter top minneapolis
Let’s get back to OPTIONS. Like the glass backsplash discussed, here, you can choose from an array of glass styles, such as: back painted, tinted, obscure, etc. Homeowners that want a touch of The Strip in their kitchen can use LEDs on the counter’s underside to create a resonant glow. Another cool direction to take is to use stand-off glass counters. These surfaces seem to hover in air with the help of metal pegs, and allow the character of the material below to shine through. At the risk of sounding redundant, there are options with this item, as well. Some people prefer to raise the counter only a few inches to form the primary counter surface, while others like a narrower glass counter raised six inches or so, that provides a secondary surface, perfect for a bar area or an auxiliary space when your food prep area gets crowded.

back lit glass minneapolis
stand off counter minneapolis

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Glass Up Your Home (Part III)

glass wall minneapolis
Matte Glass Wall
Glass Partitions

Our latest blog in the “Glass Up Your Home” series, focuses on one of my favorite vitreous additions a person can make to their home.  Glass walls and partitions are a smart choice for sectioning off a room, adding structure to a space, or giving your home a needed shot of the MODERN.  Plain old sheet rock walls can feel so confining, especially in smaller rooms, but a space that’s too vacuous can be oppressive in a different way. We want it all. We want our homes to feel open and flowing, but we still want a sense of structure, rhythm to the flow, and designated and defined spaces for our daily rituals.

 glass slider   home glass minneapolis

creative glass minneapolis
Repurposed Factory Window

You can have all these things by incorporating glass walls or partitions into your home interior. The brilliant thing about glass is that, because of its transparency, it seems to hover in some indefinite realm of matter. It is almost like the suggestion of physicality. OK, let’s not get TOO deep here. Simply put, with glass dividers you get the structure but not the restrictiveness. Light will move about your home freely, while the eye will note the subtle lines that inform the space.

There are a lot of interesting directions you can take with glass partitions. They’re perfect for sectioning off conjoined rooms, creating charming nooks, or giving just a modicum of privacy. As you'll notice from the photos, there's also a lot of options in terms of glass finish and thickness. Get creative with it, like the home in the photo on the right. They repurposed an old factory window to serve as a divider between the kitchen and dining/living room. The grids do a lot to emphasize the division between the rooms, yet the space retains its sense of openness.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Glass Up Your Home (Part II)

glass panel minneapolis

Glass Railing

The next item we want to feature on the American Glass & Mirror blog is the glass railing system. This product is useful both in the home, giving your staircase a contemporary edge, or outside on the deck, opening up your view to the backyard. In your home’s interior, glass railings allow the charm of surrounding materials to shine through and create light, clean lines that subtly break up a space. Outside the home, glass railings are the perfect way to enjoy a vista unimpeded by wood or metal railings – if you live lakeside, or on a hilltop, it’s a must! We installed a system in our family home about five years ago and have been thrilled with the results. Now, in the mornings I watch the birds frequenting the feeders with ease, and can enjoy the backyard football matches without rising from my deck chair.

With an impressive variety of styles and designs to choose from, glass railing systems can be used to fit into any design scheme; it’s just a matter of finding the one that will work for you. If your tastes tend toward minimalist, there is an assortment of austere systems that lack top and bottom rails and are secured only by utilitarian hardware at the base of the glass panels – well-suited for a chic loft or modernist dwelling. If you want something warmer and more resistant to abuse (kids love to climb…), go with wood or metal on the rails and framing posts.

glass railing minneapolisYou also have options in terms of glass – thickness and style. We went with ¼” glass at our home because it was the cheapest, and we chose a system with a metal top rail, where the top and bottom of the glass were not exposed. If you want something more regal, or if the top and bottom edges aren’t secured in a channel, you might want to go with 3/8” or ½” (remember: the thicker the glass you use, the more cost the project will incur.) In addition, you can choose from a multitude of glass designs. There are endless varieties of pattern, tinted, and cast glass that can be used in your system, not to mention the option for customize sandblasting. That said, clear glass is by far the most popular, because of its pellucid properties and the reasonable price.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Glass Up Your Home

Glass Counter Top
Glass Counter Top
We've been seeing a lot of non-traditional uses of glass in new homes, of late. Gone are the days when glass was relegated solely to the realm of windows and picture frames. People are incorporating it into their interior design in inventive ways and achieving bold and captivating results. The popularity of this material has grown in recent years because of state-of-the-art scratch-resistant coatings and a slew of new products on the market. Of course, the timeless appeal of glass is the ease of maintaining it (just need a mild cleaner and a rag) and its luminous surface that reflects and amplifies the character of surrounding materials. This month our blog will feature a series of stylish glass items that can give your home a contemporary edge. First up, the backsplash.

Cut Glass Minneapolis
Clear Glass

Glass is a great solution for keeping your kitchen or bathroom walls grime-free. You have a couple of options to consider with a “glass splash” – you can either let the glass merely protect what exists behind it or you can make it the star of the show. Say you have chic wallpaper or the perfect paint color behind your oven range and you don’t want it getting steamed, spattered with grease, and the like – clear glass is the ideal barrier between the destructive by-products of cooking and your kitchen’s aesthetic. It allows you to have the design elements you want to bring you décor to life, yet keeps your cooking area functional.

Art Glass Minneapolis
Cast Glass
The other direction you can take is imbuing the glass with character and making it an integral part of the kitchen’s look. Back-painted glass is simply clear glass painted on the reverse side with a color you select. It offers a space the same qualities of a painted wall, while adding a lustrous sheen and, of course, the protection you require. Another option is using a pattern or cast glass, which can give your wall surface a subtle or arresting effect, depending on your personal tastes and the style of glass you choose. Because these types of glass offer a variety of patterns and textures, you can match them to a paint color, wall paper, or back-paint to create a staggering range of effects.

Specialty Glass
Back-painted Glass
Glass tile can also serve admirably as a backsplash – it looks really sharp and can create a nice accent on your kitchen walls. There are, however, a couple of drawbacks to using glass tile, the first being price. Glass tiles exceed the cost of ceramic, porcelain, and even natural stone, so you can image how quickly the bill on a sizable job adds up. Another disadvantage of glass tile is that it needs to be grouted in. Without special attention from the person cleaning it, that grout line can become discolored with time, or a breeding ground for bacteria. Glass panels, on the other hand, don’t have seams that harbor gross elements, like mildew, or cooking grease.