How to Choose Glass Options for Your Exterior Door

How to Choose Glass Options for Your Exterior Door

Adding specialty glass to your exterior doors can add to the elegance of your home. Your front door is often the first thing someone notices about your home and a great way to make a lasting first impression. Specialty glass can complement all types of home designs such as Contemporary, Mediterranean, Farmhouse style, Victorian style, Restoration or Period homes, and Spanish style villas. When selecting a glass, you will have to consider home style and practicality.

Safety Glass for Exterior Doors

The glass panels in exterior doors can be cut to accommodate a variety of sizes and shapes. Most glass companies will be able to custom cut and fabricate glass to fit the unique design of your door. Certain fabrication specifications will be needed to meet safety requirements such as tempering, laminating, and insulated glass units (IG units). Tempered (or toughened) glass is heated to high temperatures and cooled quickly to ensure glass breakage occurs in relatively harmless small pieces. All front door glass and accompanying panels should be tempered for safety. Additional safety/weatherproofing options include laminated and insulated glass. Laminated glass is two pieces of glass joined together with an interlayer. The ideal thickness ranges from 1/8” overall thickness for storm doors or insulated glass, to ½” overall thickness for exterior doors.

Decorative Glass in Exterior Doors

There are many types of decorative glass options to compliment your homes aesthetic. Decorative glass can add sophistication and character to your front door regardless of the style.

Translucent Glass

A translucent option will provide privacy while still letting some natural light shine through. Many door companies offer satin or frosted glass to achieve this. This type of glass goes great with divided lite exterior doors and those with iron grilles or in sidelights. A nice, divided light exterior door with a pop of color and some satin etch glass would do wonders to any entryway looking to make a statement.

Textured Glass

Textured glass can add a unique visual aesthetic to exterior doors. Classic patterns such as “Rain” and “Flemish” work well with iron grilles and more modern patterns like reeded glass. For a timeless and subtle look, Artista GNA and exclusive Berman Collection patterns are great options to dress up your exterior door. Besides the visual appeal, you can control light transmission and privacy with different patterns, thicknesses, and fabrication. Textured glass is slightly more costly than regular glass, but it brings visual and practical advantages.

Restoration Glass & Stained Glass

If you are remodeling or replacing a restoration home, then restoration window glass or stained glass would be the best option to capture the character of the home. Glass companies will usually offer a glass to match time periods from the 1700s to the 1900s. Restoration window glass is made to be slight to heavily distorted and imperfect like it was produced hundreds of years ago. You can select your distortion levels to give your exterior door, sidelights, or transoms an old-world colonial look and feel. There are imported mouth-blown options and heat-treated restoration window glass that is manufactured here in the USA. Although not as popular as in years past, stained glass still holds some charm in older Victorian exterior doors and specialty homes. Stained glass is harder to source and pricier due to its detailed craftsmanship. It also has fewer safety options than a textured or clear glass would.


Your exterior door and accompanying sidelights or transoms are some of the first things noticed about your home, there are so many different ways to make your exterior one of a kind with glass.