The Romans were the first people known to have used glass for their windows. Glass was an expensive material and the technology was fairly basic, which meant that glass windows were only used by the very wealthy in private and public buildings. The few examples of glass panels uncovered from Roman times show that they were thicker than windows today, and often coloured glass was used rather than clear.
When the Roman Empire fell much of their technological knowledge soon became forgotten, including the skill of glass window making. As such in the early Middle Ages even the very wealthy didn’t have glass windows, instead windows would have been small and covered using either paper, animal skin, or wooden shutters. In the high to late Middle Ages stained glass windows started to become common in major churches and Cathedrals, as well as by wealthy aristocrats in private houses and important public buildings.
During the Tudor period glass window making technology began to advance, which led to windows that were made from clear glass becoming common in buildings owned by the upper classes. As the technology become more widespread, glass windows started to become common in middle-class homes as well, although it was normal for just half of their windows to be made from glass. Despite the growing use of glass windows, it was still expensive so it wasn’t unusual for nobles who were away from their estates for long periods of time to have their windows removed and stored away.
Glass technology continued to advance in the 17th Century and by the 1680s sash windows were common in middle-class and upper-class homes. When the Industrial Revolution took hold in the mid-18th Century, glass manufacturing became cheaper which meant that glass windows became more widely used. A common feature of Regency houses was floor to ceiling windows, which demonstrated how inexpensive and technologically advanced glass windows had become.
In the 20th Century glass windows were the norm for all buildings. During this century skyscrapers began to dominate city skylines, most of which were predominately made from glass. Other types of glass windows also became available, notably skylights and roof lights. By the end of the 20th Century architects were experimenting with how to use glass windows to alter the look and impact of buildings.
In the 21st Century glass window technology continues to advance. Self-cleaning windows, glass that blocks out UVA and UVB rays, and glass that provides better insulation are all available now. As homeowners, builders and architects are demanding more from property designs we at Sunsquare are working hard to provide innovative and skylights and roof lights safe glass options that meet individual demands and specifications.