You are on page 1of 1

Home Recording Studio: Build It Like the Pros, Second Edition

Float Glass
Float glass (annealed glass) is the typical glass you are used to seeing in your
windows at home. Most glass today is produced by the float process. The raw
materials (primarily silica sand, soda ash, and limestone) are weighed, mixed,
and conveyed to a melting furnace. Molten glass flows continuously from the
furnace onto a bath of molten tin, where a continuous “ribbon” is formed.
The glass floats on the tin and is pulled and stretched to the desired thickness
and gradually cooled until it starts to solidify. The glass ribbon is then lifted
out of the tin bath onto rollers and conveyed through an annealing lehr.
A lehr is a long oven that glass moves through on a conveyor belt. This allows
for gradual cooling, which slowly relieves the stresses within the glass and allows
the glass to anneal properly. The glass leaving the furnace passes between two
metallic rolls that gives it the desired thickness. The glass is then slowly cooled
until the glass exits the lehr, slightly above room temperature. At this point, the
glass is flat and has virtually parallel surfaces. The glass is then cut, sized, and
packaged. The standard specification for flat float glass is ASTM C-1036.
Float glass has an advantage over tempered glass only due to its ability to be
cut on-site. It’s readily available from any of your local glass shops in thicknesses up to 1". No, I am not referring in this case to an insulated unit—that
is the thickness of a single piece of glass. Float glass is the least effective glazing when considering acoustic isolation.
The last sentence in the preceding paragraph is said with one caveat, which is
that although standard plate glass is the least effective isolator, there are times
when it may be all that you need to maintain the level of isolation in your
wall assembly, at which point it becomes a cost-effective solution to your glazing needs. We will examine this in greater detail later in this chapter.

Heat-Strengthened or Tempered Glass
Tempered glass is produced by taking an additional step in the manufacturing
process of floating glass. The basic principle employed in the heat-treating
process is to create an initial condition of surface and edge compression. This
condition is achieved by first heating the glass and then cooling the surfaces
rapidly, which leaves the center glass thickness relatively hot compared to the
surfaces. As the center thickness then cools, it forces the surfaces and edges
into compression. Wind pressure, impact, thermal stresses, or other applied
loads must first overcome this compression before there is any possibility of
fracture. Understand though, a piece of tempered glass can be completely destroyed by a single nick on the edge that would never affect a standard piece
of float glass. I had an insulated tempered glass unit literally explode in my
face once while installing a piece of trim around a custom window opening.
A 4d finish nail just barely nicked the edge of the glass, which was enough
damage to the glass to force it to break into pieces.