Volume 42, Issue 3 - March 2007

The Farnady Files: It All Seems Pretty Clear
There’s More than One Option in Glass Products
by Dez Farnady

It has been two years since the last time I beat this horse, but I just can’t resist. I’m taking another shot at clear glass. The continuing explosion of the frameless and heavy glass shower door and shower enclosure business is documented regularly, not only in this magazine but with advertising in nearly every publication I have seen that has anything to do with housing or construction, not to mention glass. 

The popularity of clear, frameless shower enclosures was also brought to my attention by way of a recent conversation with an old acquaintance, who is going to install a ½-inch shower unit in my daughter’s house. This guy, who is in a small, but high-end market, tells me that his shop did 600 units last year. And his glass shop does not specialize in this product. I do not want to make any bets, but I will guarantee all of those units were clear glass. 

You Have Choices
The extensive options of European, heavy, pattern glass products are practically unknown in this country, and the color phobia has permeated this society to its core. So when a professional is asked for heavy glass shower door options in a classy, newly remodeled bathroom the only option he knows is something more clear than clear glass. The real clarity of the pricey low-iron product is not evident when you look straight at it. Do you think that anyone can see the 4 percent difference in light transmission between Pilkington’s Optifloat clear 3⁄8-inch and the Optiwhite low iron? With interior lighting and the fancy tile or marble surrounding the glass, the only difference you are going to see is the blue edge instead of the green one—and the difference in the price.

The lack of awareness and imagination among design professionals has left us in a world where the only color is in the surroundings. The glass is a nonparticipating component of the design, merely there to keep the water off the floor and show off the other materials. 

Not Throwing in the Towel
Well, I am sorry, but I am not prepared to give up just yet. Who says that the color of the glass cannot be used to complement and enhance the rest of the colors in the overall design package, creating a more attractive space? A little imagination and the appropriate color selection can add warmth, accent, privacy, new nuances to existing colors or even be the main color focus in an otherwise neutral setting.

There are several options for 3⁄8- and ½ -inch glass. The products start with the ultra clear with blue or nearly white edge low-iron glass and the slight green tint of clear heavy float with its green edge. We are led to believe that that is all there is. Not quite. 

The real fun starts with the deeper green of Pilkington’s 3⁄8-inch blue-green, the aqua blue cast of PPG’s Azuria or the darker sky-blue tones of Arctic Blue. 

No one even thinks of heavy bronze and gray float anymore because they don’t know how to use it. The doorlites on the mahogany entrance door to my house are beveled 3⁄8-inch bronze and look rich as they complement the wood tones of the door. Heavy bronze and the accent blackness of heavy gray glass in 3⁄8- and ½-inch offer a myriad of options to a designer with imagination. Too bad for us that we can’t sell them and the designers don’t know how to use them. You know the old saying, “use it or lose it?” Well, it applies to glass products, too. 

 the author: Dez Farnady serves as general manager of Royalite Manufacturing Inc., a skylight manufacturer in San Carlos, Calif. His column appears monthly. Mr. Farnady’s opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those of USGlass magazine.

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