Sliding glass doors won’t look out of place in any interior — from sci-fi-looking lofts to traditional American interiors dominated by pastel colors and wooden panels. The same goes for interior walls, shower cabins, conservatories, and other elements made of glass as opposed to solid, opaque materials.
The adoption of glass elements in interior design has accelerated over the past years.
Considering the diminishing sizes of homes and offices, stringent social distancing requirements, and a global shift towards sustainability, this doesn’t come as a surprise.
After all, glass solutions help divide spaces into distinct areas and make the most of the available square meters while reducing reliance on artificial lighting.
If you’re considering sliding glass doors or partition walls for home usage, however, you might be having second thoughts about this interior design solution.
Are glass doors and walls fragile? Do they require professional installation services? What about cleaning and maintenance?
In this article, we’ll try to answer all these burning questions while emphasizing issues like glass partition durability and safety (or lack thereof).
Top 3 Misconceptions About Glass Walls
Let’s look at some myths…
Myth 1: Glass Is Too Fragile to Be Used in Doors and Interior Partitions
The US glass industry reports high breakage rates of 1% across all applications, from windows to greenhouses and partitioning systems.
Besides direct physical impact, glass may break spontaneously, raising safety concerns among homeowners — particularly, in households with children.
Some common reasons for such accidents include:
- Damaged panel edges. When glass is cut into panels, which are later transformed into sliding doors or custom-fitting partitions, its edges might be damaged. While chips and nicks in glass panels might not be a serious issue, over time, the damage may accumulate due to environmental and physical factors, such as frequent panel movement and temperature fluctuations. These factors can cause glass panels to break spontaneously, although, as you can see, such breakages are caused by initial damage amplified by natural wear and tear.
- Poor framing system design. Partitioning systems and walls made of glass often contain metal or wooden framing elements. Such elements serve aesthetic purposes and help enhance the safety and reliability of glass solutions. However, if you order partitions from a company with a questionable reputation, framing elements might not be installed properly. Gaps between glass panels and adjacent surfaces, such as metal or concrete, can lead to damaged edges, accumulation of dust and liquid, and wind-related movement, causing the glass to break.
- Thermally-induced stress. While glass doors and walls in living spaces are seldom subject to direct thermal stress, you may still register temperature differences in the center of a panel and its edges. To compensate for these differences and improve panel durability, glazing companies may utilize solar control coatings.
As you can see, most of the issues undermining the sturdiness and resilience of glass panels can be mitigated with proper design, installation, and manufacturing.
To further enhance sliding panels, you can choose specific types of primary material — that is, thermally strengthened, laminated, or tempered glass.
Thermally treated and tempered glass tends to be up to five times stronger than ordinary glass. Laminated panels use two additional vinyl layers, which hold glass fragments together in case of breakages and thus help prevent injuries. Frequently, glazing companies tend to combine these types of glass to prevent physical and spontaneous breakage.
To cut a long story short, while interior glass can indeed be more fragile than solid materials, there are many ways to strengthen it — provided you describe your project needs in detail when talking to a glass wall company.
Myth 2: Installing Glass Panels Requires Professional Assistance at 100% of Cases
While you would benefit greatly from having a certified technician come over to your place and install sliding glass doors in your living room, in many cases, glass panel installation can be a DIY project.
Some instances when you can make do without professional services include:
- Installing standard panels and doors into pre-existing frames and tracks
- Mounting small interior design panels and panel fragments
- Replacing glass dividers following an accident
- Utilizing pre-fabricated glass wall kits, which contain framed panels, tracks, and fixtures, as well as detailed installation instructions
What you should do before contacting a glass wall manufacturer, though, is to take precise measurements of your space, select partition materials, and evaluate safety requirements.
Equipped with this information, a glazing company specialist will be able to recommend the right installation options.
Myth 3: Glass Panels Are Hard to Clean and Maintain in Perfect Shape
If you choose panels framed in wood, hardened plastic, or non-rusting metal and install the partitioning system correctly, you’ll have an interior design solution that is very easy to maintain and keep clean.
For regular cleaning, you can just use a squeegee, microfiber cloth, or alcohol wipes.
To remove stubborn stains, you can use streak-free sprays and cleaners, including those specifically designed for cleaning shower cabins.
You can also vacuum sliding door tracks and framing elements or dust-brush them regularly.
As you can see, most of the myths associated with glass panel usage stem from a limited understanding of the partition manufacturing, installation, and maintenance processes.
Luckily, there’s an abundance of opinion articles and how-to guides on the Internet to help you fill knowledge gaps and make a better-informed decision.