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Types of Glass

Although most people think of glass only as the clear, smooth variety used in windows, there are actually many different types of glass engineered to exhibit specific physical, chemical and optical properties. On this page we showcase some of the most popular types of glass.

Types of Glass

Good for: Shower Doors
A Stunning Flat Monolithic Glass Shower
A Stunning Flat Monolithic Glass Shower

Monolithic glass has not been laminated or insulated.

3/8″ and 1/2″ thick tempered glass are used mainly for heavy glass shower doors. These include Clear, Starphire (Low Iron), Gray, Bronze, Satin and a few Rolled Patterns such as Rain, Glue Chip and Barok. The rolled patterns look somewhat like Slumped Glass but the pattern repeats. Most tempering plants lack one or more of these kinds of glass; a few tempering plants have even more patterns.

3/16″ and 1/4″ thick tempered glass  is used for framed shower enclosures.  There are far more choices of glass in 1/4″ thickness. For instance, you can use Half Silvered Mirror so that the shower is a mirror when the light is off.  Greylite 14 (14% light transmission gray glass), which is almost black is another interesting option. There aren’t a lot of colors to choose from but Green, Blue Reflective and a great many Patterns are still available. These will all probably cost more than a heavy glass shower.

3/4″ thick tempered glass can be used for shower doors as well as furniture, entrance doors and glass railings. 3/4″ glass comes in Clear and 3/4″ Starphire (Low Iron). This thickness requires custom made pivots and hinges for shower doors.

1″ thick glass is quite rare and used mainly for table tops.

Good for: Shower Doors, Furniture and Architecture
Bent Tempered Glass Shower
Bent Tempered Glass Shower, Sandblasted with Clear Stars

Tempered glass is manufactured through a process of extreme heating and rapid cooling. This makes it very strong, approximately 4 times stronger than annealed glass.

Bent Tempered glass is formed into the desired radius during the heat-treating process.

Bent Laminated is also available but not suitable for showers because it will delaminate if the edge gets wet.

Note: glass that has not been tempered is called “annealed”.

Good for: Shower doors

Satin Glass Closet Door

Both Sandblasted and Satin glass have a frosted appearance. Satin glass is produced by a technique called acid-etching and tends to be more economical. It doesn’t show fingerprints as much as true Sandblasted glass.

Sandblasted glass is created by bombarding glass with, typically, sand. It allows for frosting to be applied in geometric or artistic designs, or in strips for added privacy. You can even choose a level of glass opaqueness from light to heavy. We always have our sandblasted glass coated with a polymer to reduce fingerprinting. For Photos see Our Gallery, or Nolan Art Glass.

Good for: Shower doors

Slumped Glass

Slumped glass is custom hand made for each project. It’s expensive but very unique and always spectacular.

We buy from these sources:

Good for: Windows, doors, skylights & office partions

Laminated glass is composed of two or more sheets of glass bonded together by an exotic vinyl interlayer. It’s designed to hold fragments in place if the glass is cracked or broken.  Laminated glass can be made in any color.  Custom images can also printed onto glass for indoor or outdoor applications (limit 96″ Wide).  Detailed information can be found here.  Bullet resistant laminated glass is also available.  We even offer a specialty privacy glass, whereby an electrical charge can make it transform from opaque to clear.

Laminated glass is not suitable for shower doors because it will delaminate if the edge gets wet. Minimum thickness: 1/4″.

Pulp Studio is our specialty glass supplier.  They offer avast and customizable selection of laminated glass.

Good for: Windows and cabinet doors

1/8″ thick spectrum glass is best used for windows and cabinet doors.

We still offer a wide selection of textures and options for cabinets.


There are many unusual kinds of glass, such as heavy heat treated laminated glass with a special interlayer that can be used for stair treads and walkways. An amazing example is the glass walkway that extends over the Grand Canyon, built using four layers of low iron glass and an interlayer. It can hold 100-pounds-per-square-foot and withstand an 8.0 magnitude earthquake!

Our supplier, Pulp Studio, has extensive offerings of custom decorative architectural glass.

Back-Painted Glass
Light Green Backsplash
Full Wall Light Green Backsplash (Private Residence, Oakland, CA)

The popular color fixing process by GlassKote is our method of choice to create the completely opaque colored glass used in kitchen and bathroom backsplashes.  It can be made in any color, with pearlescent or sparkle finishes as well as patterned.

For more photos, visit Nolan Everitt’s extensive gallery of art glass projects.