Commercial Vs. Residential Glass

Commercial Vs. Residential Glass

Commercial Vs. Residential Glass

When you begin looking for a glazier for your new glass installation, it’s easy to assume that any glazier will work, regardless of specialization. However, glaziers who install in your home versus glaziers who work on commercial buildings possess different regulations, scale, and materials. Commercial glaziers work on projects such as storefronts for businesses, hotels, schools, and more. Meanwhile, a residential glazier primarily installs glass in your homes, such as windows, shower doors, and any other special work you’d like done. In this article, we discuss the other differences between commercial vs. residential glass.


Commercial glass has different regulations than residential glass. This is because of both the types of glass needed for the project and the regulations surrounding the overall project. With regulations, commercial glass usually has stricter regulations than residential glass. For example, the state of Maryland recently passed a law requiring new construction projects to submit documentation that design meets bird-friendly standards from the global Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building certification program. This law affects commercial buildings much more than residential buildings.

Large commercial buildings are much more likely to have a complete glass window exterior. This type of exterior leads to birds crashing into the building more often than a typical residential building, with only a few windows throughout the home.

While this is less of a concern for residential builders, residential glaziers still have stringent requirements for their glass needs as well. This becomes clear in the differences in certification and governing bodies for each group.


The residential glass industry has very stringent certifications and governing bodies for their potential jobs. Some of these governing and certification bodies include the American Architectural Manufacturing Association (AMMA), the National Federation Safety Council, and the International Organization of Standards. These organizations have developed the Six Sigma. Six Sigma represents the 6 standard deviations that are within the average and acceptable limits for specifications on residential windows. These include the Lower Specification Limit (LSL) and the Upper Specification Limit (USL). Specification limits are derived from the customer requirements. Customers specify the minimum and maximum limits of a process. This system is recognized as the highest level of quality in the world.

Meanwhile, commercial glass was largely self-regulated in its certifications. Historically, commercial glass companies in the United States could conduct their own in-house tests and as a result “self-certify.” By self-certifying, a commercial glass company could conduct their own testing in-house and then claim the glass to be sufficiently tempered, while other commercial glass companies were paying a laboratory of their choosing to test their products. However, glazing trade associations and certification bodies are becoming increasingly important in the commercial world. Groups like NGA and GANA set best practices and standards of performance to improve quality and performance in a safe work environment. SGCC provides quality and performance standards testing of glazing materials essential in larger glazing projects. The NACC was established seven years ago to provide an independent and audited certification of glaziers based on best practices and internal Quality Management Systems to support continual improvement. Finally, the AGMT has been created thru the NACC to measure and test the individual glaziers’ skills and capabilities to work with a variety of glazing systems and materials.


When installing commercial glass, the scale of the project is often much larger than residential glass. If commercial windows are installed, complex methods such as storefront or curtainwall may be used, often requiring larger setting tools and equipment like cranes, lifts and manipulators to handle large lites of glass well above ground level that are not optimal for residential purposes.

In some spaces, commercial and residential glass are similar. For example, many commercial glaziers install shower doors and mirrors. Shower doors and mirrors in a home are often similar to shower doors and mirrors installed in a hotel room or a gym. However, the total number of shower doors installed in a commercial glass project is almost always more than a residential glass project.


In addition to the regulations and scale of the project, the overall materials needed for commercial glass projects are different than residential glass projects. Commercial glass needs vary depending on if it’s interior or exterior. Interior commercial glass can involve projects as large as glass partitions throughout an entire office, to as small as emergency glass repairs. Meanwhile, exterior commercial glass typically involves storefront or curtainwall glass installation, requiring large glass pieces or composite units produced to exacting standards and dimensions to ensure a smooth fit over large repetitions. Despite this, typically they call for similar materials — tempered glass, laminated glass, or tempered laminated glass. Often, residential glass projects call for Insulated Glass Units (IGU) to be installed in windows. IGU’s refer to two glass panes separated by a gas-filled vacuum space to reduce heat transfer. This is because the gas-filled space can provide insulation. The individual glass panes in an IGU can be made with tempered glass. IGU’s encompass most of the residential market, while the materials in the commercial market have a wider variety of potential possibilities on installs. In addition, residential windows tend to be thinner but may require up to 50 components to manufacture the materials for a single window. In comparison, commercial glass often requires one thick piece of glass or multiple glass types made into a single unit leaving the manufacturing floor complete as a single unit.

About Kensington Glass Arts

Exterior of Kensington Glass Arts Ijamsville Facility

Kensington Glass Arts is an award-winning commercial glass fabricator and glazier in Ijamsville, Maryland. We work on projects as large as multi-million dollar headquarters and nationally recognized museums, building enclosures, to recurring service contracts and improvements. If you’re interested in learning more about the commercial glass services KGa can offer, you can Contact Us via email or phone.