Care and Handling

Glass is a very durable material, and if properly maintained, can provide many years of use. The following are several best practices for the care and handling of architectural glass.

Preventing scratches and abrasion.

Scratches are possible, and some chemicals can damage glass. Glass is also susceptible to scratching from contact with other pieces of glass. For that reason, stored sheets of glass should always be separated by an air space or a piece of clean paper. When moving glass, don’t slide one pane over another; scratches and abrasions can result. Use rolling blocks as necessary.

Preventing chemical damage.

It’s important to wash glass frequently, both to remove surface dirt and to prevent staining. If water in the air condenses on the glass surface, it can react with sodium in the glass to create a corrosive chemical called sodium hydroxide. If sodium hydroxide is left on the surface too long, the glass will be permanently damaged and may have to be replaced.

If you see sodium hydroxide forming, you can easily remove it with common cleaners, such as a 50-50 mix of alcohol with water, or a 50-50 mix of ammonia with water, followed quickly by a rinse with clean water. Dry with a soft cloth or a chamois and a cellulose sponge. Note also that installed glass is less prone to sodium hydroxide corrosion, because it’s naturally cleaned by rain.

How to clean architectural glass.

You usually don’t need elaborate measures or chemicals. Cleaning can be as simple as using a water-saturated cloth. Pre-mixed glass cleaners are also acceptable, as long as you follow the printed instructions carefully, and dry the glass immediately with a soft, dry cloth. As mentioned earlier, a 50-50 alcohol/water mix or a 50-50 ammonia/water mix can be used. Just be sure to quickly rinse it off with clean water, and dry with a soft cloth or a chamois and a cellulose sponge.

How to remove graffiti, marking pen, lipstick, paint, sealants or oily films.

Certain solvents can be used in moderate amounts, including isopropyl alcohol, acetone, toluene or mineral spirits. Follow up with a thorough water rinse, and wipe dry with a soft cloth. Used with extreme caution, steel wool is acceptable, but only in the finest grades (00 or 000) and saturated with one of the cleaning solutions listed above. For best results, always clean glass when it’s cool and shaded; not when it’s hot or in direct sunlight.

Don’t use the following under any circumstances.

  • Avoid abrasive or highly alkaline cleaners. Never use petroleum products, such as gasoline, kerosene or lighter fluid.
  • Never use hydrofluoric or phosphoric acid, which will corrode the glass surface. If you’re not sure about a cleaning agent, test it on a small area first.
  • Abrasive brushes and razor blades will also damage the glass and must not be used.

Make sure glass is kept away from areas subject to overspray or run off of chemicals used to clean metal framing, brick or masonry.

And immediately remove any construction material, such as concrete, labels, tapes, paints or fireproofing.