Ultra Clear Glass vs. Standard Clear Glass? Isn’t clear glass just what it’s called, clear? Unfortunately, the answer is a definitive no. The surprising reality is that Standard Clear Glass is far from being clear. Clear Glass has a green hue to it, and the thicker the glass, the greener the glass. Where does the green tint come from? Glass inherently has iron content in the glass, failing to remove the iron results in the green color and a reduced clarity. This green hue can look nearly black at the edge on thick 3/4″ piece of glass. The situation has gotten worse in recent years, as more glass is made overseas. Stock shower doors, for instance,often come from China. The glass out of China will have even more green than the domestic made stock doors. Who knew, right?
I’ve been in the industry over 15 years now. Over the years, the green has started to bother me more and more. My love for glass was not always there. It was more of a pre-arranged marriage. I was fresh out of college, and green(pun intended) to the industry, when I started my future career. I joined my mother and father at the family business, and they started teaching me everything they knew about Glass. Imagine my excitement as a 21 year old with no construction background. It was planned for me to eventually take over the business, or be married to glass. If I was going to be married to glass, I had to learn to love glass. Over time, I started to like it more and more. Before I knew it, I had fallen in love with this intriguing material ..glass. Clear glass that is. My parents taught me everything about the glass they knew well, and that was clear glass. Requests for Ultra Clear felt insulting to my clear glass, as if it wasn’t good enough. I had fallen in love, and as we know, LOVE IS BLIND. I was attached to that green edge and green tint I first met. I would defend it protectively, resisting clients requests for starphire or ultra clear glass. Over time the requests happened more and more often, designers and architects were calling for Ultra Clear. This was not a phase, the industry was changing….. and it was exciting. Maybe I wasn’t in love with Clear Glass as much as I thought? Maybe I was tired of that big, bossy green edge. I decided to install an Ultra Clear shower display in our Glass Showroom. It was love at first sight. True love. It was beautiful. Interest peaked and orders increased. I admired every order as it came through. The clarity, the clearness. It reminded me of diamonds. The clearer the better. I quickly fell out of love with clear glass and there was no turning back. I fell for ultra clear, and I fell hard.
The price for ultra clear is usually around 30 % more for a shower enclosure. I knew this extra cost was well worth it’s value in relation to the dramatically increased look. How could I demonstrate this to every client? Particularly the ones that were on the fence.
I needed to do a test. A side by side comparison, in a real life shower.
The results were shocking even to me! I personally took this photo, It has no filter or enhancements. It is a TRUE representation of the difference that can be seen in the two types of glass, side by side. Now, I will share the story of how this real l life comparison test came to be.
When my sister decided she would like to replace her old framed shower enclosure with a new frameless one, I looked at her white tile and knew it would look green if I used standard clear glass. We had planned to use a tall 1/2″ thick clear glass door that I happened to have in stock, and order the fixed panels custom to match. When It came time to order the 3 fixed panels, I couldn’t bring myself to order them in regular clear. All I could picture was walking into the guest bath and seeing that white tile turned green. I made the executive decision to order the fixed panels in 1/2″ ultra clear or low iron glass. Atlas when you walk in the bathroom the glass you would look through would be optically clear. I figured the door was off to the side and it wouldn’t be that noticeable. I knew using ultra clear for those fixed panels would look so much better. I wondered if you would even notice the door, being off to the side, wasn’t also in ultra clear. WOW! I have never been quite so shocked as I was when I walked in that bathroom and all I could see was this beautiful shower with a GREEN Door.Where the ultra clear glass was used it was sparkly, clear and the tile remained white. The standard clear door appeared green glass next to the ultra clear. The tile looked green, it was just one giant eyesore.
Of course, the clear glass door HAD to go. Immediately. This real life field comparison test has been incredibly valuable. Having the side by side photographs is the only true way to show the difference in the two types of glass. The new custom Low-iron ultra clear glass door was ordered and installed easily enough. She now has a beautiful Heavy 1/2″ Ultra Clear Shower Enclosure that I am proud to have my name on.
After this ‘field test’, we have decided to make Ultra Clear Glass our Standard. We no longer order crates of clear glass, we only stock ultra clear glass. Ordering it in by the crate allows us to get the best pricing.
We are the only Glass Company in the area to stock ultra clear and make it our standard. Clients seek us out for our reputation and quality workmanship. We take great pride in our craft, the glass we use can be nothing short of premium.
can you tell me the price per square foot i should be paying for 3/8 and 1/2″ starfire glass? thanks very much!
btw, you blog is REALLY HELPFUL!
Do any shower companies offer starfire glass or ultra clear as an option?
Ultra Clear Glass, or the brand name Starfire Glass are not typically offered by most Glass Companies,despite it being very available. Usually you will need to request it specifically. Any reputable Glass Company should have no problem sourcing it.