What Is Exterior Glazing?


From windows and doors to facades and conservatories, there are lots of uses for glass in the structure of a property. However, this might not be something you’ve ever really paid much mind to unless you are designing, building or refurbishing a property.

But glass, and more specifically, glazing, can play a pivotal role in the appearance and functionality of a building, and it is certainly something that you need to take into consideration whenever you’re dealing with the structure of a property.

There are two different ways we understand this, interior and exterior glazing. For the purpose of this guide, we’re going to look at what exterior glazing is, the different types of glazing that are most common and how these can be used on a property. 

The definition of exterior glazing

In its simplest form, the term glazing refers to the part of a wall or window that is made of glass. We typically understand this as windows, but it encompasses any glass component that makes up a building’s facade.

Interior glazing allows glass installation into curtain wall openings, such as windows and doors, from inside the building. In contrast, exterior glazed systems allow the glass to be installed from the curtain wall’s exterior side.

These tend to take more work to install and, in many cases, need additional installation requirements, such as scaffolding.

9 common types of exterior glazing

There are many different types of glazing, some better suited to the exterior of a building than others. These are created using different manufacturing processes and have different properties such as strength, energy efficiency, appearance and more. Some of the most popular types of exterior glazing include:

  1. Float glass – This is the process of making large, thin, flat panels from molten glass. This is floated onto a pool of molten metal to produce a very smooth, thick sheet of glass
  2. Annealed glass – This is a piece of float glass cooled in a slower and more controlled manner, resulting in stronger glass that is less likely to break
  3. Tempered glass – This is heated and cooled more rapidly to make an even stronger panel
  4. Laminated glass – Made by fusing two or more layers of glass, this is used for glass that must remain intact even when broken or smashed
  5. Low-emissivity (Low-E) glass – This describes glass that has a coating added to its surfaces to reduce its emissivity. This means it reflects, rather than absorbs infra-red radiation
  6. Safety glass – This is the type of glass that is strengthened and reinforced to make it harder to break
  7. Security glass – Similarly, this is strengthened to resist against forced entry and manual attacks.
  8. Stained glass – We understand stained glass from buildings like churches, where colour is applied to the surface of the glass and fired in a kiln
  9. Wired glass – This type of glass relies on wire to hold the glass in place in high temperatures, meaning it is typically used for fire-resistant glazing

Uses for exterior glazing

There are lots of ways that exterior glazing can improve the aesthetic and function of your property. We’ve already discussed some of the most popular types of glass used on different buildings, but how exactly are they being used?

Well, there are several common ways we see and understand exterior glazing, and to help you build on your understanding, we’ve created a quick list. These include:

  • Windows and external glass doors
  • Glass extensions
  • Glass roofs and skylights
  • Glass canopies
  • Glass facades
  • Glass wall cladding
  • Solar control coating
  • Acoustic glass

Functions of exterior glazing

There are lots of reasons why glass is used on the exterior of a building, most obviously because glass lets lots of light into the building. This helps to open up the space and can be a huge mood booster. It also looks beautiful. Think about The Louvre in Paris; the incredible glass pyramid can’t help but grab your attention.

But more than this, glass facades help with thermal insulation and make the building more energy-efficient. This can help to maintain a comfortable interior environment and save money on energy bills.

And believe it or not, exterior glazing can also be used for security purposes, including using safety, security and wired glass, as we discussed above. These can be tougher to break, fire-resistant and less likely to splinter or shatter, causing injury in the case of breakage.

Of course, the type of glass and exterior glazing components you choose will completely depend on your property and the purpose you want it to serve.