Whether you are looking for a glass ornament for your home or a new glass shower door, you will pay quite a bit of money.
Glass tends to be one of the more expensive materials, and there are some significant reasons behind this.
In some areas of your home, it will be impossible to avoid the need to purchase some kind of glass.
It is good to have some understanding of why glass is so expensive so that you can better prepare for it.
Chances are, when you see what goes into making glass, you will quickly understand why it is so expensive.
Why Is Glass So Expensive? (Top 5 Reasons)
1. Tempered vs. Standard Glass
If you thought that all glass was created equal, think again.
There are many types of glass, and one major type is called tempered glass.
Tempered glass is a term that people refer to often, but very few know exactly what it means.
Let’s take a look at the difference between tempered and standard glass.
You will quickly see why the standard glass, although expensive, is still less than the tempered glass.
Standard glass is easy to cut, reshape, and even drill holes in.
With standard glass, the process is to let the glass cool very quickly after it is produced.
That is what makes it a bit easier to work with.
One of the problems with standard glass is that it will break into irregular pieces when and if it breaks.
Irregular pieces of glass will almost always lead to people being cut or injured when something breaks.
Still, there are certain situations in which standard glass makes more sense.
When you purchase a picture frame or have a glass cabinet, chances are it is going to be made with standard glass.
This helps to keep the price down a bit.
However, as you can imagine, it is very likely that the most expensive part of a new picture frame will be the price of the glass.
Tempered glass is made using a completely different process than standard glass.
You will find that you will not be able to work with the tempered glass quite as easily because it is much stronger.
The strength in tempered glass is created during the creation of the glass.
Essentially, the glass is cooled much more slowly than standard glass, and this gives it a much stronger finish.
When you work with tempered glass, you are not going to be able to cut it down or reshape it.
You can’t drill holes in the tempered glass either.
This results in many pieces of tempered glass having to be custom made from the start.
Of course, when you add in customization, prices are just always going to rise.
One of the biggest benefits, aside from the strength of the tempered glass, is how it breaks.
When tempered glass breaks, it is split into many tiny pieces.
These pieces are not as sharp as standard glass, and they are relatively easy to clean up.
Overall, the process is much less dangerous than cleaning up broken pieces of standard glass.
You will see tempered glass used in anything from doors to shower doors to outdoor furniture.
For the most part, tempered glass is what is normally used in homes.
This is partly why the costs of glass that homeowners think of are always relatively high.
There is not too much that can be done about this as there are certain building codes in place that will determine where you must use tempered glass in your home.
2. Overhead Cost of the Glass Business
Some businesses are not all that expensive to start and run.
Traditionally, these businesses also have smaller profit margins.
Most of the time, the harder you have to work to turn a profit, the higher the profit margin will be.
For the glass business, the overhead costs are relatively high.
Depending on what type of glass you are looking at creating or developing, the production costs are very high.
One of the major expenses that a glass company will be faced with is the price of training and labor.
Where some general labor jobs will have a way to get people started working the day they walk onto the job, things are a bit different in the glass industry.
It takes quite some time to properly learn how to make glass and how to work with glass.
This time invested in employees is expensive, and it will, without a doubt, raise the price of the finished product.
In addition to the training that takes place, it also takes quite a bit of time to make glass.
Workers need to be highly involved with every step of the process, especially when they are making detailed pieces.
Time, as always, adds up to increased costs.
Time using machines and time with people on the clock will increase the overall costs of glass.
Glass factories have to be rather large to produce the volume that they need in order to make money.
The overhead costs of having these large facilities are relatively high.
In addition, you have to consider the price of the machinery and the raw materials involved in creating glass.
Essentially, when you think about a simple shower door, there is much more that goes into it than you think.
It’s one thing to ship a pack of screws to a customer, but it’s entirely different to ship something with glass.
Most of the time, a glass product has to be hand delivered as it does not do well in general shipping situations.
Glass products tend to break when they are shipped, and this will cause the entire process to start all over again.
Although tempered glass is quite strong, it is also quite heavy.
The heavier an item is and the more fragile it is, the more money you are going to pay for shipping.
These shipping costs will be tacked onto the overall cost that you pay for the glass, leaving you with some premium glass pricing.
Yet another factor which adds to the high cost of glass is the installation.
It does not matter if you are having a new window installed, a piece of glass in a decorative furniture unit, or a new glass shower door, the installation will be expensive.
There are several parts to the installation which make it higher in price.
For starters, the glass needs to be delivered to the final destination, and this takes special trucks and very well-trained employees.
Once the glass is at the location, it needs to be handled properly, and it will take several strong people to do this.
The glass is heavy, and a small slip can end up causing a major break.
Once the glass is in location, the installers have to know how to manage it and to get it so that it is secure and sturdy in its final position.
This entire process is time consuming and costly, and it certainly adds to the higher overall price of glass.
Most homeowners are not installing glass themselves, especially tempered glass like a shower door.
This means that glass installers are busy and can charge a premium for their services.
With the amount of money you are paying for your glass in the first place, installation is not something that we recommend playing around with.
If you ask any high-quality glass installer, they will tell you that there is a lot that can go wrong.
As expensive as glass is to have installed, don’t cheap out on this part of the process.
5. Requirements Based on Application
Since we are a home website, we often focus on the uses for glass in a home.
However, glass is very commonly used in other buildings and even in automobiles.
These different types of glass and different manufacturing processes mean that glass companies need to be set up for a wide range of production processing.
If you think about the process of making auto glass as opposed to a shower door, you will see that they are quite different.
Auto glass is actually one of the most expensive parts of a vehicle.
The windshield is a very complex part of the car because it consists of two layers of tempered glass.
As we have discussed, tempered glass is expensive, difficult to work with, and must be made to the proper size.
A windshield also has a polycarbonate sheet in between the two pieces of glass.
You can imagine how the complicated production process of this is going to be quite a bit higher priced than other types of glass.
The reason behind the windshield glass being built this way is for protection of the people inside the vehicle.
The same concept applies with the hurricane proof glass that will keep people safe should a hurricane force wind blow out a window.
In higher end cars, there are even heating elements inside the glass to keep ice off and tinting to allow drivers to see a bit better.
The advancements in technology involved with glass have been revolutionary, but they have also significantly increased the prices we pay for the glass.
The regular windows on the car are tempered glass so that they can handle the wear and tear of people getting in and out of vehicles and slamming the door.
If one of these windows breaks, it is crucial that it does not split the way standard glass does.
Overall, you will see that, when you look at a piece of glass, you are very likely underestimating the technology and the design work that went into creating this product.
Think about this the next time you are shocked by the price of a piece of glass.
Is Glass Expensive to Make?
We covered this a bit when we talked about the overhead costs in a glass business.
However, there is an additional factor that should be considered when you think about the production of glass.
Glass is made at a very high temperature, and then the cooling of the glass needs to happen at just the right rate.
This makes it difficult to make a glass factory work in any environment.
When you need both heat and cold and the temperatures have to be regulated, your energy costs will be a lot higher.
The energy costs of producing glass are almost as high as the costs you will see for shipping glass.
Keep in mind that, if you were going to create your own glass at home, you would be spending quite a bit of money.
Alternatives to Glass
With the high price of glass, many people will turn to alternatives.
Of course, for things like windows and doors, you won’t have much of a choice.
For doors, you can go with something that is solid wood, but you will lose the design and security feature that the glass offers.
When it comes to a shower glass enclosure, you can add a curtain instead.
The problem, of course, is that the shower curtain is a bit of a dated look, and it will end up making the bathroom sell for a bit less.
If you want to use the latest modern finishes in a home, you will need to use glass.
The fact of the matter is that there are just not that many alternatives to glass, which will increase the price you pay.
We won’t go as far as to say you are stuck with these prices, but you certainly don’t have many choices.
How to Save Money on Glass
Unfortunately, most people are in the same general boat when it comes to glass.
The price is going to be high, and there won’t be all that much you can do about it.
One thing that we always recommend is trying to purchase in bulk.
If you notice that one of your windows is ready to be changed out, make sure that all of the others aren’t ready as well.
Sometimes when you can change out everything at once, you can get a much better price with a bulk discount.
When it comes to things like glass shower enclosures, think about doing a partial tile wall, partial enclosure.
If you are good with tiling, you may find that you can save a bit of money doing the tile work on your own.
Saving money on glass is not easy, but these simple ways can make it a little easier.
Overall, especially when you purchase tempered glass, the price you pay will be well worth it.
The next time you feel a bit of sticker shock when you see the price of glass, maybe you can now understand where it comes from.
Glass companies are truly not trying to rip people off.
They just have a challenging job on their hands.
Producing glass, especially good quality glass, takes quite a bit of work and time.
We recommend choosing a reputable local company to help you with your glass needs.
These companies tend to grow their businesses based on word of mouth.
They will do the best they can to make sure that your project goes well so that they can get a job at your neighbor’s house!