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History of Windows

Author: Evelyn y

Mar. 07, 2024

172 0

Tags: Construction & Real Estate

"The history of architecture is also the history of windows" said Le Corbusier, the Swiss-French pioneer of modern architecture. The modern window does not only consist of glass and frame, it is a complex structure which provides more than only views. Modern architecture is influenced by technological possibilities of window production, meaning that innovations in the window and façade technology open up opportunities for architects in the design of buildings.

While ancient China, Korea and Japan widely used paper windows, the Romans were the first known to use glass for windows around 100 AD. In England animal horn was used before glass took over in the early 17th century. Frames were made in timber and windows were small to suit the glass. In Georgian times windows with 6 glass panes per sash became common. Glass from that era often had air bubbles, distortions and curved ripples which can still be seen today, mostly in sash window styles in some historic buildings.

An early advance in automating glass manufacturing was patented in 1848 by the engineer Henry Bessemer. He also introduced an early form of "Float Glass" in 1843, which involved pouring glass onto liquid tin, which was improved on by the company Pilkington who also developed the revolutionary float glass process in the mid-20th century. This made modern-style floor-to-ceiling windows possible.

Before double glazed glass units were invented, often a set of separate window sashes were inserted into the frames in winter only (storm windows) to increase energy efficiency. These sashes were replaced in summer by shutters in Italy, Southern France, etc. or flyscreens in other parts of Europe.

The first patent for a sealed double glazed unit was lodged in the US in the 1930s. Following the serious European oil crisis in 1973, governments changed building regulations with some countries offering grants and cheap loans to improve building efficiency which included double glazed windows.

Today, double glazed windows and doors are common with triple glazing now also having been introduced to Australia. Frame materials for energy efficient windows and doors are timber, thermally broken aluminium, uPVC and timber-aluminium composites.

In Australia building regulations require certain energy stars for homes which is often reached – depending on climate of course - by using large windows on the north side for solar heat gain in winter with eaves to protect the glass during the hot summer months. Smaller windows are used for east, west and south facing elevations.

As an important part of a good window is also its air tightness to eliminate drafts, modern tilt and turn styles are becoming ever more popular. Technologically advanced tilt and turn windows and lift-slide doors originated in Germany, spread to the UK and are now also extensively used in the US and China amongst other countries. Paarhammer has made their first double glazed tilt and turn windows for the Australian market in 1990, with triple glazing options available since the local glass industry could manufacture the insulated glass units (IGU's). These triple glazed windows have the lowest U-value (and highestenergy efficiency) of any window made locally from mostly local materials right here in Australia.

What is in a name - the origin of ‘window’: Old Norse vindauga, from vindr ‘wind’ + auga ‘eye.’

A German language saying is that the windows are the ‘eyes of the house’.


The history of architecture is the history of the struggle for light'. Le Corbusier

Want to talk about your new windows and doors? Contact us


Have you ever stopped to consider the composition of your glass windows or how they are shaped? Despite its widespread use, most people have little knowledge about glass. 

US Window and Door provides a wide selection of glass windows with different frames, materials, finishes, and window types to choose from. Before you browse our glass windows, consider learning a little bit about the history and what makes these windows so special. After all, window and doors are some of the best investments you can make to improve your home value. 

Here are five fascinating facts about glass and glass windows.

It takes 1 million years for glass to decompose.

One of the most sustainable materials on Earth is glass. Even 6000 years ago, archeologists found glass-made objects. The time it takes for glass to decompose, however, is nothing compared to that.

It takes around one million years for glass to decompose completely. Due to this, glass is actually not as eco-friendly as other materials. Therefore, all countries should focus on recycling glass. 

Glass windows were first likely produced by the Roman Egyptians in about 100 A.D.

Paper, cloth, animal hide, and thin slices of wood or stone were used as windows before the glass was invented. About 100 A.D., Roman Egyptians may have produced the first "glazed" windows, but the glass would have been so thick that it would have been difficult to see through them. From those early models to the types of windows we manufacture today, more than a millennium has passed.

Some of the earliest glass art in human history was created by the ancient Egyptians, as with many other things. Despite not decorating windows with stained glass, the Egyptians were the first to experiment with glass for artistic purposes.

It is still possible to see some of the best examples of their glass art today. Egyptians were able to form basic shapes out of the hot glass as early as 2750-2625 BC, as evidenced by glass beads dating to 2750-2625 BC. Artists wound molten glass around a removable clay core to make the beads. 

Ancient China, Korea, and Japan used very thin paper for windows.

Glassmaking began later in Ancient China, Korea, and Japan than ceramics or metalwork.

Compared to ceramics and metalwork, glass played a minor role in Chinese arts and crafts. Glass items from the Warring States period (475–221 BCE) are rare in quantity and limited in archaeological distribution in China.

Compared to Mesopotamia, Egypt, and India, China developed glassmaking later. The first imported glass objects reached China during the late Spring and Autumn periods (early 5th century BCE) in the form of polychrome eye beads.

Glass was used in a variety of ways during the Han Dynasty (206 BCE–220 CE). This period saw the introduction of glass casting, which led to the production of molded objects, such as bi disks and other ritual objects. Glass objects from the Warring States and Han periods differ greatly in chemical composition from imported glass objects. 

These glasses differ from the soda-lime-silica glasses of Western Asia and Mesopotamia because they contain high levels of barium oxide and lead. After the end of the Han Dynasty (AD 220), lead-barium glass production declined, and glass production only resumed in the 4th and 5th centuries AD. In the 5th century AD, literary sources also mention the manufacture of glass.

Glass window panes in homes became popular in the 17th century.

It wasn't until the early 17th century that glass windows became common in homes. Prior to this time, they were considered luxury items, with even the richest fitting them into their most important rooms. As aristocrats valued their windows so highly, they would have them removed and stored while they were away visiting other estates.

Buildings began to have windows in the 13th century. There was no covering for these early windows - they were just openings in the roof. When people did not want light and air coming in, they covered their windows with animal hides and wooden shutters. Glass windows were finally common in England by the early 17th century.

Automated glass manufacturing was patented in 1848 by engineer Henry Bessemer.

Henry Bessemer patented an early advance in automating glass manufacturing in 1848. Using rollers, he formed a continuous ribbon of flat glass. As the surfaces of the glass needed polishing, this was an expensive process and was later abandoned by its sponsor, Robert Lucas Chance of Chance Brothers. Additionally, Bessemer introduced a form of float glass in 1843, in which liquid tin was poured over the glass.

Ashley in Castleford, Yorkshire, developed mass production of glass in 1887. In this semi-automatic process, 200 standardized bottles were produced per hour, many times faster than traditional manufacturing methods. In 1888, Chance Brothers also introduced machine-rolled patterned glass.

Why Glass Windows Are Preferred in Modern Times 

People replace their windows to improve energy efficiency, resulting in lower heating and cooling bills and more comfortable living year-round.

For optimal energy efficiency, so your home stays warm in the winter and cool in the summer. 

Extremely Strong and Durable

Despite its ability to shatter, glass is much stronger than you might think. Of course, it can be cracked or damaged, but that's more of an inconvenience than a critical problem, and it's easy to identify. It is possible for material like plastic to wear down or become warped without your knowledge. You might not know how to replace it if it becomes useless.

Resilience 

Glass windows are weather-resistant. Despite wind, rain, and sun, the material retains its appearance and integrity. In addition, glass is more resistant to scratching and abrasion from sand, dirt, small rocks, and any other particles that can damage it.

Stiff and Doesn't Bend

The glass is sturdy and thin at the same time. Standing up a thin piece of plastic will likely result in it folding over. In contrast, glass doesn't bend at all. For a plastic window to be as stiff, its thickness would have to be significantly greater, which would have a negative impact on its overall quality.

Tempered glass is more robust than ordinary annealed glass and is preferred by many homeowners. Thus, tempered glass is four times stronger than ordinary annealed glass of the same thickness. Even though tempered glass is more substantial than regular annealed glass, it is also more brittle and may break when overheated.

Due to this, tempered glass should not be used in environments where sudden temperature changes may occur.

The strength of tempered glass is approximately four times that of annealed glass, and it tends to shatter into tiny, safe pieces instead of large, sharp ones. Because of this, it is ideal for use in high-traffic areas or areas at risk of breakages, such as car windshields and shower doors.

Tempered glass is also more resistant to thermal and mechanical shocks, making it less likely to break due to sudden temperature changes.

Versatility 

Unlike other materials, glass can absorb, transmit, or refract light. Therefore, it is transparent as well as translucent. The glass won't rust - it won't be affected by chemicals or the environment. Due to its smooth and glossy surface, glass is dust-proof and easy to clean.

Natural Light and Heat

The main reason why glass windows are popular among homeowners is that they provide natural light and heat. Instead of using the lights inside your home during the day, open the drapes and let natural light in. Your electricity bill will be reduced as a result. A glass windowpane captures solar heat when sunlight falls on it, which naturally warms your house. As a result, you won't have to run your HVAC system all the time. You can save thousands of dollars over time.

Low-E Coating

In Low-E glass, a microscopic coating helps make the window more thermally efficient. This coating is thin, non-toxic, and virtually colorless.

By reflecting ultraviolet and infrared light away, the coating reduces the amount of radiant heat emitted through the glass.

Nowadays, more and more homeowners are seeking ways to improve energy efficiency, and Low-E windows are becoming a standard part of that solution.

You can get low-emissivity or Low-E coatings for your glass windows to improve their functionality even in summer. A special coating is applied to one side of a glass window.

In comparison to standard glass, Low-E glass reduces temperature transference by almost 30 percent. During the winter, the warm temperature of the rooms is reflected, keeping them warm. In summer, the cool air generated by the HVAC system remains inside with minimal loss, which makes it run more efficiently.

By getting a Low-E coating on your glass windows, you can better preserve your home's temperature. Additionally, they protect your home from harmful UV rays and reduce the harsh glare from the sun.

Circadian Light

We need natural sunlight to improve our circadian rhythm. Due to modern-day routines, most of us spend most of our time indoors. You can access natural sunlight through glass windows, which helps improve your circadian rhythm. Improving sleep patterns helps eliminate mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and agitation. Furthermore, it improves your overall health and prevents heart disease.

Low-E windows block UV rays and infrared light, but they still allow plenty of natural light to pass through because the coating is tintless and nearly colorless.

Low-E glass windows still allow plenty of natural light to enter a home, even if the light is slightly less visible than through a completely clear window.

By doing so, homeowners can enjoy all the benefits of natural light without the drawbacks. 

Aesthetics

Aesthetics can't be ignored when talking about glass windows' benefits. In addition to giving homes a modern look, they also make rooms feel more spacious and open. Additionally, you can enjoy a clear view of the outdoors.

Long-Lasting and Cost-Effective

Because Low-E coatings are strong and apply evenly to the entire surface of the glass, they are unlikely to scratch or damage. Furthermore, Low-E glass windows are typically just a few dollars more expensive than regular glass windows. In most cases, the extra cost pays for itself through energy savings.

As Low-E glass windows are coated with a safe, non-toxic coating, homeowners, their children, and pets don't have to worry about harmful chemicals.

Install Glass Windows With US Window & Door 

Glass has been manufactured and used by humans for thousands of years. We use it every day in our day-to-day lives. It is impossible to go anywhere without seeing glasses.

You are reading this post on a device with a glass screen. Glass has become an integral part of our lives, so you know how important it is.

There is nothing better than having high-quality windows in San Diego that can perform the way homeowners want them to. San Diego's climate requires windows with heat deflection and heat retention in order for homeowners to feel comfortable and relaxed in their homes.

US Window and Door offers a variety of glass window designs, frames, and colors to help improve your home's functionality, energy efficiency, and curb appeal. Schedule a free in-home estimate today! 

History of Windows

5 Interesting Historical Facts About Glass Windows

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