Selecting Glass and Windows for Your Home

Selection of glass and windows for your new or renovated home is an exciting and rewarding time but there are a few important considerations in the selection process. The following information will help to guide you around the most important factors.

There are many different types and designs of glass and windows with a vast variety of features to choose from. It is important to consider your personal requirements for your home, regulatory requirements, and local and regional site conditions.

AGWA has collated the basic information that needs to be collected and considered for the selection of suitable, compliant, and relevant window and door products in our Guide to Window and Door Selection. This guide can be used as a checklist with certifiers to ensure window and door compliance with the National Construction Code (NCC).

AGWA Guide Series: A Guide to Window and Door Selection

For more detail on each topic, refer to the specific items below.


Product Selection - Framing and Glazing Materials

There are a number of excellent options when choosing materials for your windows and doors. Aesthetic choice, to suit the style of your home, will enhance the project but material choice is just as important for durability, performance and regulatory purposes. Material considerations largely include framing and glazing.


Major considerations for framing are: harsh and corrosive environments, such as coastal areas or near industrial estates; noise levels (acoustics), especially in busy traffic areas;  safety and security in and around the home; ultra violet (UV) damage – Australia generally has higher UV levels than many other countries whereby the type of materials selected are important considerations for the durability and performance of your frames.

The relevance and cost effectiveness of the materials selected will be dependent on the quality of the information supplied at the start of the project.

There is a broad range of framing options to choose from:

  • Aluminium: Aluminium frames are lightweight, strong and easily formed into complex shapes. They are available in anodised and powder coat finishes that are extremely durable, needing little maintenance and are resistant to corrosion and decay. In addition, aluminium frames are approved up to BAL 40 (the second highest bushfire rating).
  • Fibreglass: Fibreglass frames are made of glass fibre reinforced polyester or other fibreglass composites. As a result of their strength and low U-value (how readily a window system conducts heat), fibreglass windows have low heat conductivity and thermal expansion, and offer highly effective thermal performance. 
  • Timber: Timber has an aesthetic appeal, high strength to weight ratio, sound insulating properties, and low thermal conductivity and is therefore a good insulator. Timber windows and doors are available in a wide range of Australian and imported, solid and engineered timbers. 
  • uPVC: uPVC frames, commonly referred to as vinyl windows, consist of an non-plasticised form of PVC. uPVC windows can withstand extremes of heat, cold, wind, rain and snow without corroding, peeling, chipping, flaking, blistering or rusting. uPVC frames are lightweight, durable and resistant to pollution.


Like framing, glazing is available in a vast range of choices, and, fortunately for you as the consumer, the choices continue to grow. Choice of glass can make a substantial difference in your home by reducing the wide swings in temperatures and thereby reducing the costs of heating and cooling. In addition, optimal year-round comfort and health is also improved for your family with energy efficient glass.

Some of the more commonly used glass products are: toughened; float; tinted; laminated; low-E coatings (suppress radiation heat transfer); and insulating glass units (IGU - double glazing). An AGWA member would be an ideal starting point to discover the opportunities and benefits of each glass type.

FAQs: Glass types and properties

Glass has a surprising number of opportunities and benefits in a residential setting, enhancing the aesthetics, comfort, performance and safety in and around your home: 

  • Balustrades
  • Bathroom Vanities
  • Bench and table tops
  • Bushfire resistant
  • Decorative
  • Energy Efficient
  • Noise resistant
  • Partition walls
  • Pool fences
  • Safety
  • Shower screens
  • Splash backs
  • Staircases
  • Storm resistant
  • Switchable
  • Wardrobes

Glass in your home


Energy Efficiency

For many good reasons, sustainable energy usage has become a mainstream issue and there is nowhere like the family home where energy affects comfort and the monthly budget more. Changes in comfort levels between summer and winter, and the associated energy costs, can be reduced through energy efficient windows and doors.

The type of windows and doors used in the family home can substantially influence the efficiency of energy use. In addition, the geographic orientation of the house or unit, upgrading from single glaze to double glaze, the type of windows used on the northerly, eastern and western sides of the home can all combine to have a strong influence on energy usage and efficiency. Improvements in sound insulation have also made major strides over the last few decades providing a double benefit to the home.

To guide you through these important considerations, AGWA has compiled the Guide to Energy Efficiency Compliance for you to make easier and more informed choices when selecting your windows and doors.

AGWA Guide Series: A Guide to Energy Efficiency Compliance

The Windows Energy Rating Scheme (WERS)

Understanding energy considerations when selecting windows can become quite technical and complex so AGWA has developed, and administers, the WERS  program to provide a standardised rating system for the energy efficiency of windows, and for your peace of mind that you are selecting the right product. 

Performance requirements from energy efficiency reports can be given to the window supplier, who can then match or exceed the requirements with their WERS rated products. 

Visit the WERS website

AGWA Energy Efficiency Video Series

Through a generous grant from the Office of Environment and Heritage New South Wales, the Australian Glass and Window Association released three informative videos for the fenestration industry, building industry and consumers nationwide. The videos are based on enhancing the understanding of energy efficiency in fenestration (glazed window and door) products.

Use the tab navigation to watch the video of your choice or click the links below to watch on our YouTube channel:


NSW Office of Environment & Heritage

Video 01: High Level Energy Efficiency

This video provides information on what is driving the requirement for energy efficiency, including the 2015 Paris Agreement; general energy policy; aims for future energy targets and compliance with the National Construction Code and state and territory specific regulations.

Watch video on YouTube 

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Glazing Requirements for Different Climates

Australia is blessed with many different climates from the hot and humid north to the colder, wetter south, and mixed climates in between. As with energy efficiency, the type of windows and doors selected in your climatic zone can have a large impact on the comfort and sound insulation in your home, as well the cost benefits mentioned above. In addition, climatic considerations can have a detrimental effect on your physical home, for example, humidity and damp and the damaging effects of these conditions on your house and the health of your family.

The following guides are useful for selecting glass and windows in your climatic zone:

Source:, 2014

Your Home

'Your Home' is the Australian government's guide to environmentally sustainable homes. The latest edition has been extensively revised and updated, and is available for free on the new 'Your Home' website.

Your Home | Australian Government

Printed editions can also be purchased online in paperback or as a special 20th anniversary hard cover limited edition.

Your Home store | Australian Government

Your Home is Australia’s trusted guide to designing and building an energy efficient, sustainable home. This guide has the latest information for building, buying or renovating an energy efficient and comfortable home. Your Home is developed by experts, verified by government and trusted by industry. All content in this book is available free online at


Structural, Air and Water Performance

Aesthetically pleasing windows and doors provide the magic touch to your home but the durable performance of the products and installation are equally important. There are some important considerations when it comes to performance such as the strength of the windows and doors, the ability to minimise air transfer, outwards or inwards, and no water transfer into your home.

Australian Standards (AS), sometimes combined with New Zealand Standards (NZS), are used to determine the requirements for the window and door systems, as well as site conditions. Windows are tested for the considerations mentioned above through AS 2047. In addition, wind loads on the site are tested through AS/NZS 1170.2 (Wind Actions), and AS 4055 (Wind Loads for Housing). These Standards and site conditions should be used by the project engineer, architect, designer or builder. Once the site requirements are determined you can go ahead with the pleasurable part of selecting your windows and doors.

You can check that your glass and windows adhere to the required standards by looking for the label below.


Bushfire Requirements

For many, the essence of the Australian lifestyle is living in or near bush areas. While the closeness to nature is peaceful and rewarding, the ever-present danger of bushfires needs careful consideration. To guide window and door selection in or near bush areas, Australia has a national set of codes to ensure that window and door products are designed and built to accommodate bushfire situations, and the safety of homes and families.

The Bushfire Attack Level codes (BAL as per AS 3959) detail the Bushfire Attack Levels for homes in different bushfire areas, and the product requirements for each level. These requirements must be adhered to when selecting glass and window products, as well as other building products for the rest of the dwelling.

For more detailed information on Bushfire Attack Levels (BALs):

AGWA Guide Series: A Guide to Windows & Doors in Bushfire Prone Areas


Acoustics - Noise and Sound Control

Increasing urbanisation, higher density living, buildings near railway lines and growing traffic congestion have resulted in an increasing need for noise pollution controls. Choice of glass can provide some, if not a lot of relief from this growing challenge. Beyond annoying noise levels, sound in general can be better managed in the home with the right types of glass and windows. To help with selecting the best options, glass and window systems (and many other building products) can be acoustically rated for specific applications, such as apartment living, homes near freeways or factories, etc.

There are various factors when considering acoustic qualities and benefits in windows, namely: using laminated glass with an interlayer (also helps with temperature control); there is no dependence on the frame material or window opening; good sealing around the window edges (higher air infiltration will negatively affect the acoustic performance); for the air space in a double-glazed window to have maximum acoustic performance, the air space must be at least 100mm wide; sound insulation measurements must be done on the actual window system and not just on the glazing; windows designed for good sound insulation should also be certified for structural performance and water infiltration.

For more information on acoustics:

FAQs: Energy and Acoustics

Fact sheet: Acoustics and Windows


Frequently Asked Questions

AGWA continually collect and update frequently asked questions for your reference.

The FAQs have been broken down into the following categories. For information on a specific topic, click on the relevant tab below.

Learning the glass energy language can assist you with achieving energy-saving results quickly. Here's a guide to get you started.

What are the parts of a window or door called?

Windows and doors are made up of a frame, sash (windows) and panels (doors). You can download the AGWA Guide to Window and Door Terminology that shows each of these and the parts that go into them.

Window and Door Terminology (pdf)

What is a muntin?

A muntin is used in colonial windows to divide glass into multiple panes in the sash. In Australia most muntins are not part of the structure of the window but are simply glued in place.

What is a light?

Lights are individual panes of glass within a window.

What is an insulated glass unit?

This term applies to two (double glazing), three (triple glazing) or more panes of glass that are separated and sealed by insulation at the edges. There is air between the panes. They provide greater thermal efficiency to a window.

A double-glazed unit or IGU is comprised of two panes of glass separated by a cavity containing air (or another gas) and hermetically sealed. An IGU provides thermal insulation and improved acoustic performance. An IGU is described in terms of the thickness of the outer pane in millimetres, followed by the gap width between the panes and finally the thickness of the internal pane (for example: 4/12/4). The greater the gap width (towards about 20 mm), the better the insulation performance. The inclusion of an inert gas such as argon instead of air and the specification of low-E glass further improves the insulation provided by the IGU.

What is gas filled glass?

An inert gas, usually argon, is used between the panes of glass in an insulated glass unit instead of air. Gas is a better insulator than air so it increases the thermal efficiency of the window.

What is toned or tinted glass?

This is glass that has been coloured during manufacture by the inclusion of oxides. There are a number of colours that are generally available including grey, green, blue and bronze. Tinted glass will have an effect on the energy efficiency and also the amount of light that enters through a window.

What is low-E glass?

Low-E stands for low-emissivity. Glass is coated with a very thin, virtually clear material that acts to reduce the transmission of infra-red rays through the glass. Depending on the type used low-e coatings can be used to prevent heat coming in through a window in hot climates and, in cold climates can reduce the amount of long wave heat energy that is lost from a warm interior to the outside. Low-E glass improves thermal efficiency while allowing visible light through.

What is light transmittance or visible transmittance (VT)?

Visible transmittance measures how much light comes in through a product. It is an optical property that is expressed as a number between 0 and 1. The higher the number, the more light is transmitted.

How does a door keep the outside elements from penetrating into the interior?

The door works in concert with weather stripping, the door frame, and the threshold to keep the elements at bay. Usually, the door itself has insulating value provided either by its mass, as in a solid door, or by insulating material fabricated into the core by its manufacturer. The weather stripping, door frame and threshold prevent air penetration around the door.

What makes an external door different to an internal door?

An exterior door needs to be finished to resist the elements. This requires that any wood be either sealed or covered with a weather resistant material. The exterior door must be manufactured of materials that are weather resistant.

What is coated glass?

Glass may be coated 'on-line' or 'off-line' (independent of the manufacturing process). On-line coatings are called 'pyrolytic' and, because of their high durability, can be further processed (cut, toughened, curved, etcetera). Off-line coated products are often referred to as 'sputtered' coatings and some of these coatings need to be protected within a double-glazed unit or a laminate. Once manufactured, off-line coated products are generally not suitable for further processing other than cutting.

What is laminated glass?

Laminated glass panes are assembled from two sheets of glass sandwiching an interlayer, which bonds the glass (usually PVB). A heavy impact can break laminated glass, but won’t splinter it. This leads to greater safety and security. Laminated glass eliminates nearly 99% of harmful UV rays, greatly slowing the fading of floors and furniture. A specialized interlayer in laminated glass can further reduce the Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC).

What is Reflective Coating?

To create a reflective coating, a metallic coating is applied to one side of the glass in order to significantly increase the amount of reflected visible and infra red heat.

What is Solar Control Glass?

Solar control glass is glass that reduces heat gain derived from direct solar radiation. This may be achieved via interlayers, body tints, reflective coatings or Low E coatings.

What is a Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC)?

The SHGC is the ratio of solar heat admitted by the glazing into a building, compared with the energy striking the outside surface of the glazing. It includes directly-transmitted radiation plus indirect heat gain from re-radiation and convection of absorbed heat from the glass into the building. The lower the number, the less solar heat is allowed in.

What is U-Value?

The U-value indicates the rate of heat flow through a window due to a temperature difference, from inside to outside (in winter) or from outside to inside (in summer). Heat is lost and gained through a window by the combined effects of conduction, convection and radiation. The lower the number, the higher the thermal performance.

If your question remains unanswered after reviewing our FAQs, please submit it to our Technical Team.

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