Glass is one of those things that surprises you when you actually start looking for it. Glass pervades our homes and our lives. Not only is glass in our homes, it’s in our cars and our places of work, too. It’s probably even on your latest mobile device. No matter where you live in San Francisco, whether in the Sunset District, the Tenderloin, the Richmond District, Bernal Heights, the Mission District, Nob Hill, or North Beach, you’ll find more instances of glass in your life than you’d think at first. So when you find you need glass, be sure you’re shopping at the right place. Many glass companies have areas of specialization, for example, they offer windows and doors. Others provide custom shower doors, mirrors, or tabletops. Still others will replace or repair the glass for your car, truck, motorcycle, or other vehicle. You’ll also find many examples of glass artists who produce items for display, either on their own or incorporated into a door, window, or cabinet. No matter what kind of glass you need, look for the right firm, and enjoy finding the right glass for your needs.
Glass for San Francisco Vehicles
Most often, we look for a San Francisco glass professional when we need to fix our vehicle glass. A chipped, cracked, or broken windshield can be hazardous. In California, the law requires modern vehicles to have a windshield (some older vehicles have exemptions). That windshield cannot be damaged in such a way that the damage impairs the driver’s vision. Also, chips in a windshield damage the windshield’s structural integrity and can grow into bigger cracks. A chip can become a crack when your vehicle bumps over potholes or speed bumps, when hot weather encourages the chip to expand vertically, or when cold weather causes the windshield to become more concave. Even cooling down after exposure to heat can make the chip expand. So, to keep your vehicle in the best running shape, it’s a good idea to repair the chips.
When you do find an auto glass repair shop in San Francisco, whether in the Tenderloin, the Sunset District, the Richmond District, the Mission District, Bernal Heights, North Beach, the Excelsior, or Nob Hill, you should be aware of a couple of things. First, the general guideline is that cracks less than six inches long can be repaired. Otherwise, your windshield probably needs to be replaced. Also, you should not expect all signs of the damage to be erased after the repair. Your auto glass company should be straightforward and let you know that what you can expect is an improvement in looks, not a complete erasure of the damage. It’s important that you check how long it will be before you can safely drive you vehicle. If you get a replacement instead of a repair, obviously the adhesive must dry before you drive the car. Repairs may often be paid for by your insurance company, with the deductible waived, if you have comprehensive insurance.
Mobile auto glass services are also readily available. If you are having the service come to your home or office, be sure you can provide cover if the weather is bad. Not only will the technician be more comfortable, but the adhesives and resins will be protected.
It’s the technicians that make or break (no pun!) the auto glass company. You should look for a company that provides training for its technicians. You should also look for auto glass firms that comply with the ANSI (American National Standards Institute) standard for auto glass replacement. The companies may also refer to this standard as the AGRSS standard, after the non-profit group that developed it.
Ask yourself whether you want original equipment manufacturer (OEM) replacements, or not. If so, you may have to ask for OEM parts. OEM parts come from the same manufacturer that provided the original and thus have the same logos and branding. At the least, you should insist on original equipment equivalent (OEE) replacements. The OEE replacements will be of the same quality as the original windows, but will come from a different manufacturer.
All glass used in vehicles must be safety glass by California law. Most glass used in vehicles is laminated. Laminated glass is formed when one or more layers – or lites – of glass are held together with a thin sheet of plastic. When the glass breaks, it sticks to the plastic instead of shattering into irregular and sharp shards. A lite is a word used to refer to a single thickness of glass.
Glass for San Francisco Homes
Look around your San Francisco home, and you will see glass used in many places. Before you even get in the house, you may be welcomed by entry doors that have glass insets. Indeed, the glass may form the greater part of the door. Then, of course, you have windows throughout the house. You may have cabinets that have glass doors. Your shower may have glass doors. Your tables may be glass-topped. Your house in the Tenderloin, the Sunset District, the Richmond District, Bernal Heights, the Mission District, North Beach, Nob Hill, Pacific Heights, or the Excelsior may even have skylights or sun tunnels that let light into your house. And you may have glass doors heading out onto a patio or deck. When choosing the glass, you’ll be looking for beauty of appearance, as well as safety and durability.
When it comes to doors, it may be a matter of selecting from door styles that already have glass insets. In some cases, you may opt for a custom glass design to be set in the door. You may choose to have glass that is tinted, or etched with a design of you choosing. Sliding doors to the outdoors may be clear or may be bubble glass, or other textured glass that provides a degree of privacy. No matter which doors you choose, make sure that doors leading to the outside are exterior doors. Exterior-quality doors block out the weather, hot and cold, and noise more effectively than interior doors. Of course, if you have glass doors leading to an interior space, they may be rated as interior quality. Doors should be clearly rated as interior or exterior, so it should not be too difficult to find out.
Of course, when you think of glass in the home, you often think of windows. Currently, double- or triple-pane windows are popular. These are also called double-glazed or triple-glazed windows. Multi-pane windows are gaining popularity because they are better at preserving the indoor temperature and blocking out noise. Double-pane windows (as with any multi-pane window) are designed specifically to work as a unit. If any part of the unit fails or gets compromised, the entire unit is damaged and must be replaced. In a double-glazed window, two layers of glass surround a space. The corners are all sealed to form the unit. In the past, aluminum corners that held the unit together tended to break down, but there has been much improvement in the materials and sealants used to form the unit.
You may find air between the layers in a dual-pane or triple-pane window. There may also be a desiccant to get rid of moisture. In some cases, the space is filled with either argon or krypton gas. Many argue that argon and krypton do little to help in warm climates, but tests show they are effective in cold climates. However, argon and krypton are getting a lot of attention because the Federal government is offering incentives for very high efficiency windows. Krypton is slightly denser than argon but much more expensive. Some window companies will supply argon in the windows to help you meet the requirements for the incentives.
For those in hot climates, tinted windows may be an energy efficient option. These are windows that are photovoltaic, meaning that they can go from clear to mildly tinted to darkly tinted. The advantage of such windows is that increasing the tint reduces the amount of radiant heat that enters your house. You can control the tint during the course of the day. In addition, the very latest product offering in this area allows the windows to store solar energy. The solar energy powers the windows; it is the energy you use when you lighten or darken the tint.
Wood, vinyl, and aluminum are the materials used most often for replacement windows. Sometimes wood is covered with aluminum or fiber glass – these are called clad windows. The covering is to protect the wood from the weather. Vinyl windows are popular in part because they are in the middle, price-wise. However, it is not yet clear how durable the vinyl will be. Also, if the vinyl frame is thick, as they often are, it will be easy to see that the window is a replacement. Vinyl windows tend to come in only a few colors. Aluminum windows are now of much higher quality than in the past. And the price has increased with the quality. They are much more efficient than previous aluminum windows. Wood windows are either all wood, or clad in another material. If you do select a clad window, be aware that it’s difficult to repair and refinish them – you may have to replace them if they are damaged. The color of the clad windows will not be changeable. Both types of wooden windows are very expensive. The general guideline is to replace like with like, if you can afford it.
Besides your windows, skylights and sun tunnels can bring natural light and ventilation to your San Francisco home. Sky lights have a somewhat mixed reputation, since some have leaked in the past, and some have had contrary effects on energy efficiency. However, skylight technology has improved, and you may want to consider adding one in your house in the Tenderloin, the Sunset District, the Richmond District, Bernal Heights, the Mission District, Nob Hill, North Beach, Pacific Heights, or the Bayview District. There are better flashing techniques now available. Flashing is the material used to guide water away from entering the home. Also, the skylights themselves are often double-glazed, which reduces the impact of heat and cold, the glass often has low-emissivity, and it may be tinted, all of which also improve energy efficiency.
The size of the skylight in proportion to the room is an important consideration. One general guideline is that the skylight should be no more than 5% of the size of a room with many windows and no more than 15% of the size of a room with few windows. The placement of the skylight in relation to the orientation of the building is also relevant, so you know whether the skylight will get the rising or setting sun.
A sun tunnel is basically a tube shape. The tube shape makes it possible to maneuver around any obstacles – such as a furnace in the attic – and run the tube to almost any room in the house. Sun tunnels may have less of an impact on energy efficiency than skylights because the openings are smaller.
Custom glass may also be part of your house. You may have glass-topped tables. Or you may have a custom shower enclosure with glass doors. Or you may want a custom mirror. All of these are readily available in San Francisco, whether in the Sunset District, the Tenderloin, the Richmond District, the Excelsior, the Mission District, Bernal Heights, Pacific Heights, the Bayview District, or North Beach.
For custom glass, be sure the measurements are precise. Typically, the measurements are supplied, then the glass company either cuts and tempers the glass or sends the project to its fabricator. No matter which way your order is handled, the cut must be correct. After being cut, the glass is tempered, meaning that it is heated and then cooled. Tempering changes the internal structure of glass. Tempered glass resists breaking more than glass that is not tempered, and even more importantly, when it does break, tempered glass breaks into rounded, bead-like bits instead of sharp, irregular pieces. Once it is tempered, the glass cannot be cut again. Be aware that the process used to temper glass may result in marks being left on the glass. Sometimes these are called tong marks, and they come from handling the glass during the tempering process. Ask if these will exist. If they will, the company should work with you to ensure they are inconspicuously placed.
Also in your home, but perhaps less obvious, is the glass in your mobile devices. That screen you have on your smart phone or tablet may be made of glass. You’ve probably heard about special glass developed for use with mobile devices. The glass is created to be extra thin, durable, and responsive (as suits a touch-screen). While the exact formula for making the glass is proprietary, the method actually takes advantage of a method discovered long ago and recently revived. Essentially, at the heart of the method is the replacement of one kind of ion with another. The glass initially has sodium ions. The glass is then treated in a very hot solution containing potassium ions. The potassium ions replace the sodium ions. The potassium ions are bigger. The ion replacement compresses the glass, making it stronger and leaving a protective layer. Ok, so as you sit at home in the Tenderloin, the Sunset District, the Richmond District, Bernal Heights, the Mission District, the Bayview District, or North Beach, you’re probably not going to be ordering glass for your devices, but it’s kind of interesting to know.
Other Glass Applications in San Francisco
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Glass lends itself to applications in diverse industries. Of course, many of glass’s applications are specialized, and you may never need them. But just consider, from eyeglasses to medicine to the military, finely ground glass lens and other devices serve many needs. Eyeglasses are still occasionally made of glass. For infra-red, ultra-violet, and other special vision needs, glass is ground into the specific lens required. Manufacturers use glass for components that are employed at many points, including inspection and vacuum stages. Machine vision also requires properly ground lenses. In aerospace, glass is used in components since it stands up well to the high altitude and harsh surface conditions. Medical applications include slides and other components used in medicine and research. Some laser applications use glass components, as do sensor components used in the defense industry.