Volume 48, Issue 2- February 2013


Resolution Revamp
Glass Experts Foresee More Clear Touches of Brilliance in 2013

by Kaitlan Mitchell

Among the popular resolutions tossed around in the last remaining seconds before January 1 are the promises to shed those few extra pounds, the pledge to quit smoking and the proclamation to donate time and resources to charitable causes. Of course, another common goal is to complete unfinished projects.

And, with the numerous project opportunities around the house, comes the near-endless possibilities for glass usage. Glass retailers can benefit by investing time into researching what will be the next hot items and where they might fit into customers’ design plans.

According to Mandy Marxen vice president of marketing for Gardner Glass Products in North Wilkesboro, N.C., homeowners simply are becoming more comfortable with glass.

“Full glass backsplashes were extremely rare in homes in the U.S. ten years ago,” she says. “But pick up any home magazine today and, odds are you'll see a picture of one featured inside. Frameless glass shower doors are a common request for bathrooms today, and a huge variety of qualified glass shops in their local area can perform the service for them. Glass railings are found on residential decks now - where before they were strictly commercial.”

In With the New
Ask any number of industry experts and they will likely say the residential glass industry will continue to impact the economy positively.

“In many ways, the decorative market, which includes residential shower and bath enclosures, has rebounded faster than other segments of the glass industry,” says Rich Porayko, a marketing consultant for Hartung Glass. “Aesthetics aside, the common threads across the continent continue to be reinvention, using color to blend privacy with natural daylight and saving money.”

There is also an anticipated increase in traditional glass applications such as shower enclosures and mirrors, as well as emerging applications such as backsplashes integrating glass tiles and an increase of shower glass wall panels. According to the Neil Kelly Co.’s Top 10 Design Trends for 2013, glossy glass tile backsplashes and sparkle on polished nickel fixtures will be staple designs in 2013. The study adds that glass mosaic tile, which has been popular over the past few years, is becoming outdated. An added element of texture and visual appeal has created a demand for glass, among other materials, for backsplashes, states the report.

Another backsplash trend to look out for is the backpainted, solid glass panel. Ideal for contemporary settings, this surface provides a clean environment while still appealing to modern taste. According to design trackers, backsplashes and showers will integrate back painted glass tiles instead of utilizing a single sheet for a backsplash. This provides a pop of color as well as eliminating grout lines for easy maintenance. Backpainted textured glass provides even greater visual interest, according to Diane Turnwall, market segment director of interiors at Guardian Industries. This trend toward more in textures and visual appeal will also be seen in laminated glass.

“As a manufacturer, we do see requests for the integration of natural fibers and other texture elements into decorative laminated glass,” says Turnwall. “These can be used in any place where there is visual access to the glass on both sides such as walls, railings, doors, etc.”

The use of glass indoors creates an eye-catching dynamic and also makes small spaces appear more elongated, notes Turnwall. Contemporary elements such as sliding urban doors are also appearing in multi-family or high-rise developments and are incorporating glass because of the reflectivity and ability to create a color accent.

Another item the industry should anticipate stems from the customers’ demand to revamp their showers.

“The trend in the shower market is certainly toward frameless enclosures, however in the current economic environment, consumers who want the frameless look are looking to save money by turning to light-duty hardware,” says Porayko.

His explanation stems from customers’ desires to better showcase the design of the shower.

“Whether it is ¼- or ½-inch glass, frameless enclosures are in demand because they are easier to clean than other shower types and the all-glass style provides a large open feeling that highlights stone and tile work,” he says.

Vibrant Visions
This year’s popular hue has already been crowned – charcoal. According to the Neil Kelly Co., charcoal will be seen everywhere across the board from backsplashes to bathrooms. This smoky color pairs well with a rich mocha, grey and splashes of green. In 2013 the glass color palate is expected to also bring vibrancy to the room of choice.

“Colored glass, of all types, is in high demand,” says Porayko. “Homeowners love vivid, bright colors that pop whether it’s laminated color interlayers or printed ceramic frit, which has taken a giant leap forward with a new generation of inks and application techniques that were previously unavailable or cost prohibitive.”

An addition of color is not the only way to make a statement. Glass etchings allow homeowners a way to further personalize a room while bringing a new and exciting dynamic to the space.

“Incorporating images and photographs is also becoming more and more prevalent as a value-added, almost limitless way to customize a shower or bath enclosure, whether it is laser etched, high resolution interlayers or direct printed ceramic frit,” says Porayko.

Wide Open Spaces
Moveable glass wall systems, such as folding and sliding door systems, also continue to be popular among homeowners. Suppliers and manufacturers are working to build awareness of these systems and how they can be used.

“Awareness is the first thing,” says Lee Maughan, general manager of LaCantina Doors in Vista, Calif. “Many still do not know what folding doors are. As the awareness grows the products will become more competitive and the prices will start to come down,” he says.

Architects also agree the systems are seeing increasing popularity.

“A double swing patio door is limited by the width of the door leaves and a sliding door has stacked width and sound transmission limits,” says Yinsze Lam, an architect with Seattle-based Integrus Architecture. “Operable glass doors allow us to fully open up the wall if desired. Also, it is co-planar when closed so it is not so limited by the depth of the wall type, whereas sliding doors need multiple tracks to achieve a large opening. Most of the folding glass doors have a much better sill/threshold detail for sound blocking and thermal separation.”

A Plan of Action
Not only will the use of glass applications expand, but new forms of construction will also appear. Expect to see new fabrication techniques for counter tops, for example, come into play.

“Heavy glass is typically used in a counter top,” says Turnwall. “Utilizing tints and painted glass can provide deep saturated tones as an alternative to clear glass. Some fabricators are fusing multiple heavy sheets together for a solid 2- to 3-inch top and can integrate artistic painting and textures for an even stronger design statement.”

A familiar theme from 2012 will also increase in popularity, a trend that is already intertwined into every facet of our lives and for good reasons: sustainability and healthy living will continue to be a huge design factor. The Neil Kelly Co., for example, foresees more homeowners taking advantage of federal and state incentives to evaluate the energy efficiency and overall performance of their homes. According to the company’s study, an upgrade trend includes the use of low volatile organic compound materials to improve indoor air quality, testing combustion, safety and radon mitigation. The application of glass also ties into the healthy-living fad thanks to its low-maintenance and anti-bacterial benefits.

Raising the Bar
A new year certainly means a time for change and a time for a fresh start. If your customers’ resolutions involve sprucing up a dining area, updating a shower or installing a home fitness center, it is important to be aware of the up and coming renovation trends. Keep an eye out for new glass textures and the use of charcoal; note the continued trend of sustainable design and the role that glass can play. And in your efforts to stay abreast of the latest residential designs, look for the many opportunities to incorporate glass.

Kaitlan Mitchell is the assistant editor for USGlass magazine.

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