The decision to choose between glass blocks and regular windows may seem challenging for new homeowners as they both have their benefits and downsides. Unlike normal windows, glass blocks can also be used for walls and skylights. However, the thickness and durability of glass walls does not mean that they can handle any load-bearing capacity, as they may start to crack after some time. It is also important to consider the initial cost of installation as it influences your decision to choose between glass blocks and regular windows based on what suits your budget. This article discusses whether glass blocks are cheaper than windows by looking at their benefits and downsides.
What is the Difference between Glass Blocks and Windows?
Glass blocks have been used in factories because of their durability and functionality as they provide better insulation while letting in natural light at the same time. They are still used today in residential homes and commercial buildings not only for windows but also for skylights and walls. Glass blocks are thicker than regular windowpanes, which makes them durable and capable of providing better insulation. Some people use glass blocks for windows or bathroom walls as they let in natural light but do not allow anyone to see what is inside. Decorative and frosted glass windows can still offer the same level of privacy as glass blocks. However, most architects and design experts agree that glass blocks are outdated and unattractive than regular windows that come in a wide variety of styles and designs.
Are Glass Blocks More Affordable Than Windows?
Glass blocks are thick and heavy because of the lengthy and complicated process used to create them. You should expect to pay more for a glass block because of the extra benefits it offers compared to a regular window in terms of better insulation and durability. A single glass block can relatively cost around $15 on the lower side with specialty blocks that are colored or frosted running up to $50. You also need professional help when installing glass blocks to ensure they fit perfectly in the allocated area.
Reasons Why Glass Blocks are Costly than Regular Windows
- Privacy and Structural Issues
Glass blocks are used indoors for permanent shower stalls or room dividers and external walls. However, glass blocks can offer a false sense of privacy when used at night since people can easily see activities taking place inside your home. It is important to reinforce your glass block windows with all-season foliage and other window treatments to protect your privacy. Some popular indoor solutions include frosted and color-tinted glass blocks. Interior glass block walls may require additional engineered support because they can be substantially heavier than drywall construction or a conventional timber frame.
- Lack of Natural Ventilation
The benefit of using regular windows is that they can help reduce heating and cooling expenses as long as they are properly insulated. They allow free circulation of air in the building, which is important during temperate weather. However, glass blocks remain permanent after installation which may force homeowners to continue using their air conditioning and heating systems to circulate indoor air. A home that is tightly sealed with glass blocks can also lead to respiratory illnesses caused by toxic or unhealthy fumes that cannot escape outdoors. This means that you will be spending more money on monthly energy bills if your home is fitted with glass blocks instead of regular windows.
- Costly to Install
Glass block windows are not ideal for an average DIY project or a beginner. They need to be measured and planned carefully by cutting the blocks to size. The process of installing glass blocks can be compared to laying bricks, which is a learned skill that can be performed best by a professional. Although you can still find pre-laid sections of glass blocks, you may require extra help to lift them, as they are extremely heavy. It is important to factor in labor costs when installing glass blocks especially if you will be hiring a professional for the job.
Despite the numerous benefits of glass block windows, they are costly to install and maintain in the long term. Lack of natural ventilation can increase your monthly energy bills because your HVAC systems need to work harder than usual to maintain the temperature in your house. Regular glass windows are cheaper to install and can outweigh the benefits of using glass blocks as long as they are properly insulated and well maintained.