Advantages weigh in the decision to replace masonry with glass in projects

Brazil is among the largest glass producers in the world and is the largest in Latin America, according to data from the Brazilian Glass Industry Association (Abividro). Since 1980, this traditional product has gained more space in architecture and civil construction. Often used on facades, roofs, floors, partitions, doors, windows, stairs and even replacing entire masonry walls, it is also a safety element in guardrails, allowing interaction between the external and internal environments. It also provides visibility and security, when choosing a glass wall art

The glass industry has evolved a lot in recent decades, as recognized by Geraldo Jardim Linhares Júnior, vice-president of the materials, technology and environment area of ​​the Civil Construction Industry Union (Sinduscon-MG): “The use of glass depends a lot on of the project design. We buy frames for constructions that are already ready with the glass installed. In works of high standard of architecture and environment, there was a great growth in demand for products made with this material, because they are already structured equipment, used in projects that use glass even as stairs, handrails, even the creation of complete environments, with walls and glass furniture.”


See more photos of glass application in architecture and decoration

For Roberta Vieira Gonçalves de Souza, an architect and professor in the technology department at the School of Architecture at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), before the use of glass in buildings, there was no contact element with the external environment, protecting it from adverse situations, such as excess heat, humidity and security. In countries with hot climates, it lets through a thermal load of insolation if it is not used well: “It is not a matter of the element being good or bad, but knowing how to use it in adequate quantity, evaluating the direct entry of the sun and the lighting factor. But it takes good design.”

Vice-president of Sinduscon-MG, Geraldo Linhares mentions the advantage that they are ready-to-install equipment – Sinduscon/Disclosure
Vice-president of Sinduscon-MG, Geraldo Linhares mentions the advantage that they are ready-to-install equipment
Technologically treated glass, according to Roberta Vieira, can reduce the entry of heat and helps seal in sound. For her, “good architecture must adapt to the use of technology.” Glass also brings some advantages, such as low weight for the structure, and can be used indoors such as countertops and in some furniture, which results, in addition to aesthetics, in optimizing the time of the work, since the product is manufactured, often made to order or ready-made, easy to install, reducing the use of manpower.

As for the cost, Roberta explains that first it is necessary to think about the cost/benefit ratio. When thinking about the useful life of a building, with the use of a more expensive material, it is necessary to assess whether this expense compensates for the duration and also for the reduction in the electricity bill: “Or increase it if there is no control of the thermal load. The more sophisticated the technology, the more expensive it is, but everything must be well evaluated.”


There are generic technical norms on the use of glass in civil construction. Created a year ago, the Architecture and Urbanism Council of Brazil (CAU/BR) is studying norms for the use of this material, according to the adviser to the presidency of the body and former president of the Institute of Architects of Brazil Gilson Paranhos. For him, some standards could be more logical: “Nothing prevents, for example, common glass from being used in handrails, parapets and facades. However, with regard to safety, tempered glass should be used, which instead of breaking, shatters, therefore offering less risk of accidents that cause cuts or injuries when it breaks”.

Gilson cites the architect João Filgueiras de Limas (Lelé), from Rio de Janeiro, who lives in Bahia, who, as he points out, “knows how to use glass, providing transparency to the environment, but at the same time makes projects that are concerned with ventilation and natural light, combined with a kind of shutters that protect from the effects of the sun and wind.”

Five thousand years of evolution
From picture frames to large buildings, the demand is met by companies operating in the glass segment

Glass is a seasonal product, according to the general manager of Divinal Vidros in Minas Gerais, Abdo Moreira de Andrade, who in certain moments of the economy it presents growth and in others it is stagnant. In the first months of this year, he notes that the first moment prevailed, with a relatively more stagnant market.


“It is a pulverized and very balanced market in terms of existing types. According to Abdo, Divinal serves all segments, from picture frames to large buildings. In addition to what concerns decoration and construction, the company also sells the most innovative technology in the glazing industry, such as materials that allow solar control”, he adds.

Abdo also recalls that glass is practically the only material used in civil construction that, in addition to enclosing space, manages to, at the same time, integrate man into nature and the outside world. It is considered cheaper than masonry, he observes, in addition to “beautifying and ennobling any building”, assures Abdo Moreira.

The offer on the market is quite wide and varied. There are solar control, thermoacoustic, self-supporting, self-cleaning, laminated, decorative, anti-reflective, ballistic projectile-proof, anti-vandalism, safety glass, among others.

“It is practically the only material that integrates man with nature” – Abdo Moreira de Andrade, general manager of Divinal
Delivery, according to Abdo Moreira, depends on cutting and polishing and can take up to five days. For custom-made products, the wait is up to 30 days. He explains that all glass, when a particular building is being designed, depends on specification to be well used, extracting the maximum benefit. First, he recommends consulting an architect, engineer, decorator or a professional known as a “specifier” of building glass. MEMORY: Discovery was accidental

The history of glass dates back to 5000 BC, when Phoenician merchants accidentally discovered it while making a fire on the shore, over which they supported blocks of sodium nitrate to hold their pots. Fire, combined with sand and sodium nitrate, resulted in a transparent liquid. Glass was created. In 100 BC, the Romans produced it using the technique of blowing molds for windows. In 300 AD, Emperor Constantine began charging fees and taxes to glassmakers. In the 1300s, roller-cast glass was introduced to Venice. Also, during this period, the cylinder blowing process was discovered, which revolutionized production. From the Middle Ages onwards, glassmaking became a secretive process, manufactured by experts, guarded against industrial espionage. William Clark tried to manufacture leaves in St. Helens (United Kingdom) in 1857, but the problem of belting was only solved by Fourcault in 1904, in Belgium. In the twentieth century, three production centers emerged, France, England and Belgium. In the 1920s, there was an increase in demand from the automobile industry, which led Ford to create a mass production process. In 1938, Pilkington Brothers (UK) created a commercially operated roller pressing, grinding and polishing machine. From there the product evolved. Pilkington Brothers (UK) created a commercially operated roller pressing, grinding and polishing machine. From there the product evolved. Pilkington Brothers (UK) created a commercially operated roller pressing, grinding and polishing machine. From there the product evolved.


» Tempered: five times more resistant than the common one because it takes thermal shock during manufacture

» Laminated: two or more glass plates have a film (PVB, EVA or resin) in the core

» Wired: steel mesh in the middle of the mass increases safety and provides thermoacoustic insulation

» Reflective or mirrored: reflects light and does not absorb as much heat

» Low-E: suitable for countries with a cold climate, to keep the indoor environment warm

» Screen-printed: impregnated with ink in the tempering oven, it becomes colored

» Sandblasted : sandblasting or abrasive powders make opaque designs on the surface

» Printout:receives reliefs and textures on the surface during the manufacturing process

» Acidic: subjected to an acidic solution, it becomes opaque

» Armored: plastic layers between the blades cushion the impact and increase resistance

» Self-cleaning: with titanium oxide, prevents the fixation of dirt when receiving ultraviolet rays

» Fire resistant: with blades interspersed with chemical material, it expands when it reaches 120 degrees centigrade

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