Discover the fascinating history and development of double glazing in this comprehensive article. Learn about its origins, innovations in the 1960s, and its widespread adoption in residential homes. Explore the numerous benefits of double glazing in 1960s homes, including improved insulation, energy conservation, noise reduction, increased security, and prevention of condensation and mold growth. Dive into the materials and technologies used in double glazing from window frames and glass options to sealants and glazing techniques. Get insights into case studies of suburban housing developments, custom-designed homes, and retrofitting older homes with double glazing. Examine the challenges and drawbacks of double glazing during the 1960s, such as the higher initial cost, installation difficulties, and environmental concerns. Finally, understand the impact of double glazing on 1960s home design and architecture, its integration with modernist design principles, and its influence on interior design and living spaces.

The Use of Double Glazing in Residential Homes During the 1960s


Table of Contents

History and Development of Double Glazing

Origins of double glazing

Double glazing, also known as insulated glazing, originated in Scotland during the 19th century in response to the cold climate and the need for homes to retain more heat. The system was invented as a way to reduce and limit heat loss in homes while still letting in natural light through windows. However, these early double-glazed windows lacked the efficiency of their modern counterparts since they did not contain inert gas or low-emissivity (Low-E) coatings found in modern double-glazed windows.

The first patent application for double glazing was filed in the United States in 1930 by C.D. Haven. The intention was to improve the traditional construction of windows by introducing an air space between the two layers of glass and proving the feasibility of insulating glass. Early insulated glass units (IGU) were made by combining two individual single-glazed panes within one frame, separated by a small gap filled with air. This early form of double glazing was expensive and not as effective as today’s products, but it paved the way for future innovations.

Innovations in the 1960s

Rapid developments occurred in the 1960s with the invention of the hermetic sealing of the airspace within the IGU. This development improved the insulating properties of double-glazed windows, as it prevented condensation and moisture from entering the space between the panes. The sealed units allowed for the use of airtight materials that boosted energy efficiency, such as polycarbonate and Vyclex, both of which are still used today.

Another major breakthrough in the double-glazing industry was the invention of the Low-E coating. This special heat-reflective coating was developed in the United States in the 1970s, and it is now widely available worldwide. Low-E coatings help reduce heat loss by reflecting the heat back into the room while still allowing natural light to enter. Using these coatings on double-glazed window panes helps to dramatically improve the energy efficiency of windows, making them one of the most significant advances in the development of modern double-glazed windows.

Popularity and adoption rates in residential homes

The first mainstream application of double glazing occurred in the post-World War II period, spurred by new construction methods and lower energy costs. It gained popularity in the residential sector in the early 1970s in the United States and Canada, primarily due to an increased awareness of energy efficiency and the increasing cost of traditional sources of energy.

In the United Kingdom, the implementation of double glazing in homes became widespread from the 1980s onwards, driven in part by government-supported initiatives like the Home Energy Efficiency Scheme (HEES), which provided grants to improve energy efficiency in homes. Since then, the technology has continued to evolve, with triple glazing becoming more popular in colder climates for better insulation, as well as solar control glazing being developed for warmer climates to mitigate solar heat gain.

Today, double glazing is a standard feature in most modern residential homes in developed countries. New builds and replacement windows typically feature double-glazed windows offering advanced features, like Low-E coatings, argon gas filling, and warm edge spacer bars for improved thermal performance. As more homeowners and builders recognize the cost savings and environmental benefits of efficient windows, the double-glazing industry globally will continue to grow.

With increasing concerns about climate change and rising energy costs, double-glazed windows have become an essential way to reduce heat loss in homes, save on energy bills, and move toward a more sustainable living. From its humble beginnings in Scotland, double glazing has continuously evolved, ultimately leading to the advanced, energy-efficient windows we use today.

Benefits of Double Glazing in 1960s Residential Homes

The 1960s marked a significant shift in residential architecture and design. The emphasis was on simplicity, functionality, and affordable construction. Many homes built during this era feature large windows that allow for ample natural light. However, this design choice also makes the homes more susceptible to heat loss, drafts, and noise pollution. By installing double glazing in 1960s residential homes, homeowners can enjoy several benefits, including improved insulation and energy conservation, reduction of noise pollution, increased home security, and prevention of condensation and mold growth.

Improvements in insulation and energy conservation

One of the primary benefits of double-glazing in any home, particularly those built in the 1960s, is the improvement in insulation and energy conservation. Single-pane windows, which were common during this time, are not very energy efficient, as they allow heat to pass through the glass easily. This results in significant heat loss during the colder months, and unwanted heat gain during warmer months. This can lead to an uncomfortable indoor environment and higher energy bills for homeowners.

Double-glazed windows consist of two glass panes separated by an insulating gas or vacuum. This creates a barrier between the indoors and outdoors, reducing the amount of heat transfer. As a result, double-glazed windows effectively insulate a property—helping to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature year-round. This improved insulation also helps to reduce energy consumption, as there is less need for additional heating or cooling to maintain a comfortable temperature inside the home.

Reduction of noise pollution

Another advantage of installing double glazing in 1960s residential homes is the reduction of noise pollution. Large, single-pane windows not only allow heat to pass through, but they also do little to block out external noise. This is particularly problematic for homes situated near busy roads, airports or in bustling urban environments, where constant noise can be a significant source of discomfort for the residents.

Double-glazed windows are far more effective at reducing noise pollution, as the two panes of glass work together to dampen the sound waves before they can enter the property. This can result in a significant reduction in noise levels, creating a quieter and more peaceful living environment for homeowners.

Increased home security

Installing double-glazed windows in 1960s residential homes can also lead to increased home security. Single-pane windows are more susceptible to break-ins due to their relative fragility. Double-glazed windows are more secure since they are significantly stronger and more difficult to break than single-pane alternatives.

In addition to the strength of their construction, double-glazed windows can also be fitted with multi-point locking systems, further improving their security credentials. This not only provides peace of mind for the homeowner but could also lead to reduced home insurance premiums.

Prevention of condensation and mold growth

Finally, double glazing can help prevent condensation and mold growth in 1960s residential homes. Condensation forms when warm air inside the home comes into contact with a cold surface, such as a single-pane window. This can lead to dampness and mold growth on window sills and surrounding areas, which not only looks unsightly but can also pose health risks if left untreated.

Double-glazed windows are much more effective at preventing condensation, as the insulating barrier between the panes helps to maintain a more consistent temperature across the glass surface. This significantly reduces the likelihood of condensation forming, which in turn helps to prevent mold growth and maintain a healthier living environment for homeowners.

Materials and Technologies of 1960s Double Glazing

The 1960s marked a time of innovation and progress. During this decade, the concept of double glazing windows was introduced as a way to provide better insulation and energy efficiency in homes and buildings. In this article, we will delve into the materials and technologies used in the 1960s for double glazing, including the types of window frames, glass options, and sealants and glazing techniques employed during this time.

Types of Window Frames

During the 1960s, there were two main types of window frames used for double glazing: aluminum and wood. Each of these materials had its own set of advantages and disadvantages.


Aluminum frames were a popular choice in the 1960s for their durability, strength, and low maintenance. Aluminum is a lightweight material and able to support the weight of double glazing glass panes. Additionally, aluminum is resistant to rust and corrosion, making it an ideal choice for various weather conditions.

One significant disadvantage of aluminum frames is their poor insulation properties. Aluminum is a good conductor of heat and can cause heat loss through the frame, reducing the overall energy efficiency of the double-glazed window. However, during the 1960s, this drawback was not yet fully realized, and aluminum remained a popular choice for double glazing frames.


Wood is a traditional material for window frames and was also commonly used for double glazing during the 1960s. Wooden frames have excellent insulating properties and can increase the overall energy efficiency of double-glazed windows.

One downside of using wood for window frames is that it requires regular maintenance, such as painting and sealing, to prolong its lifespan and prevent rotting and warping.

Glass Options

The glass used in 1960s double glazing windows had a few key features that differentiated them from today’s glass options.


Double glazed windows of the 1960s typically had thinner glass panes compared to modern windows. The standard thickness of glass panes during this period was around 4mm. This reduced thickness could make the windows more susceptible to breakage, and it might not offer the same level of energy efficiency that thicker, modern glass offers.

Spacer Bars

Spacer bars are the components that separate the two glass panes in a double-glazed window. In the 1960s, aluminum spacer bars were commonly used. They were responsible for maintaining the distance between the glass panes and providing a space for the insulating gas or air in between the panes.

One disadvantage of using aluminum spacer bars is that they can contribute to heat loss due to their low insulation properties. Modern double-glazed windows often use spacer bars made from materials with better insulating properties, such as warm edge spacer bars that reduce heat loss and improve energy efficiency.

Sealants and Glazing Techniques

The sealants and glazing techniques used in the double-glazing process during the 1960s were less advanced compared to today’s methods.

During this time, butyl rubber was a common sealant used to seal the space between the glass panes in double-glazed windows. However, butyl rubber sealants are prone to drying out over time, resulting in leaks and reduced insulation properties. Modern double-glazing techniques use more advanced sealants, such as silicone or polysulfide rubber, which are more resilient to long-term weathering and provide prolonged durability.

Additionally, the glazing techniques used in the 1960s did not employ argon or krypton gas filling between the glass panes, which provides better insulation compared to air in modern double-glazed windows. Instead, the space between the glass panes was filled with air or even left empty.

In summary, the 1960s introduced double glazed windows, providing the foundation for improvements in insulation and energy efficiency. Over the years, innovations and advancements in materials, glass options, and glazing techniques have further enhanced the benefits of double-glazed windows, providing improved durability, insulation, and overall energy efficiency.

Case Studies: Double Glazing in 1960s Residential Homes

Double-glazing windows, also known as insulated glass units (IGUs), were introduced in the late 19th century but gained significant popularity in the 1960s. These windows have two panes of glass separated by a layer of air or inert gas, such as argon or krypton, which provides insulation. Double glazing has several benefits, including increased energy efficiency, reduced heat loss, noise reduction, and improved home security. With the growth of suburban housing developments and custom-designed homes in the 1960s, there was a natural interest in incorporating double glazing. This section explores case studies that demonstrate the adoption and success of double glazing in the 1960s residential homes across different contexts.

Widespread adoption in suburban housing developments

Suburban housing developments in the 1960s witnessed rapid growth in the United States and other countries. Thanks to the post-war economic boom and the increasing numbers of baby boomers, there was a significant demand for new suburban residences. Double glazing quickly became a standard feature in many suburban housing developments because of the benefits it offered.

One notable example is Levittown, a planned community in New York, United States. Founded in the late 1940s, it gained significant traction in the 1960s as a model for suburban housing developments. Levittown developers embraced double glazing as a standard feature due to its energy efficiency and noise reduction capabilities. This set a precedent for other developers to follow suit, leading to widespread adoption of double glazing in suburban housing developments.

Custom-designed homes incorporating double glazing

Custom-designed homes, often commissioned by individual homeowners, were also on the rise during the 1960s. Architects; homeowners began prioritizing energy efficiency and comfort in these designs. Consequently, double glazing became a frequently included feature in custom-designed homes throughout the 1960s.

For example, the work of American architect Richard Neutra exemplifies this shift in custom design. Neutra was known for designing modernist homes with an emphasis on indoor-outdoor living and sustainability. His designs, such as the Singleton House (1959) and the Taylor House (1962), featured double-glazed windows well before they became standard in more mainstream residential architecture. The integration of double glazing within these custom-designed homes serves as evidence of its growing significance during the decade.

Retrofitting older homes

As the benefits of double glazing became better known, homeowners of pre-1960s properties often sought to retrofit their homes with double-glazed windows. This trend was particularly prevalent in areas with extreme temperature variations and where noise pollution was a primary concern.

An illustrative case is the preservation and retrofitting of Victorians in San Francisco, United States. The city’s iconic Painted Ladies, a row of Victorian homes dating from the 1890s, underwent extensive renovations in the 1960s and 1970s. As part of the modernization process, homeowners replaced single-pane windows with double-glazed units to improve energy efficiency and reduce noise pollution from the busy city streets. This retrofit showcases how double glazing was also adopted in the renovation of older homes during this period.

In summary, double glazing became a standard feature in suburban housing developments, custom-designed homes, and retrofit projects of the 1960s. Offering numerous benefits, such as improved energy efficiency, noise reduction, and enhanced security, double-glazing technology gained popularity throughout the decade and continues to be an essential element in modern residential designs.

Challenges and Drawbacks of Double Glazing in the 1960s

Higher initial cost and return on investment

Double glazing, also known as insulated glass units (IGUs), were first introduced in the 1950s, and gained popularity in the 1960s. While offering a range of benefits including enhanced thermal comfort and improved energy efficiency, early double glazing systems had their fair share of challenges and drawbacks. One of the major hurdles in the widespread adoption of double glazed windows in the 1960s was their higher initial cost. Compared to traditional single-glazed windows, double-glazed windows could be more than twice as expensive, which made the technology inaccessible to many home and business owners.

The high initial cost presented concerns about the return on investment (ROI) in installing double glazed windows. Despite the superior insulation properties and reduced energy consumption that double-glazed windows promised, the long payback period made it a less attractive investment in the 1960s. Additionally, during this time, the cost of energy was less expensive than it is today, which further extended the period for a return on investment.

Installation and maintenance difficulties

Another challenge faced by early double-glazing systems in the 1960s was the installation and maintenance difficulties. As a relatively new technology, professional installers with experience in fitting double-glazed windows were not as readily available as they are today. Moreover, the quality and installation methods varied greatly among manufacturers, leading to inconsistencies in the performance and aesthetics of installed units.

The lack of standardization and inexperience in installation often led to seal failures and moisture infiltration between the panes. This resulted in the fogging or condensation build-up that reduced the clarity, visibility, and overall performance of the double-glazed windows. The process of replacing or repairing these failed units was both difficult and expensive due to the inaccessibility or unavailability of suitable replacement components. Moreover, maintenance and repair works required skilled technicians, which were not always easy to find.

Environmental concerns and disposal of materials

Environmental concerns related to the disposal and recycling of old single-glazed windows, as well as the materials used in double glazing units, posed another challenge in the 1960s. As the awareness of waste accumulation and the need for recycling increased during this time, the disposal of old windows became an issue. Unlike today, there was little to no infrastructure in place for the recycling of glass and other materials from discarded windows. This resulted in increased waste and pollution associated with disposing of these materials via landfills or incineration.

Similarly, early double-glazing systems used materials that were later discovered to be environmentally harmful. For example, the use of various sealants and chemicals in the production process could exacerbate the pollution problem when discarded. The manufacturing and transportation of double-glazed windows also contributed to the overall carbon footprint and environmental impact, further dampening the initial enthusiasm for the technology among environmentally-conscious consumers.

In conclusion, although double-glazing technology offered numerous benefits in terms of energy efficiency and thermal comfort, the challenges and drawbacks faced during its early years in the 1960s prevented it from becoming a mainstream and widely accepted option. High initial costs, installation and maintenance difficulties, and environmental concerns related to the disposal and manufacturing process of double-glazed units impeded the rapid expansion of this innovative technology in the residential and commercial sectors.

Impact of Double Glazing on 1960s Home Design and Architecture

The introduction of double glazing in the 1960s revolutionized home design and architecture. It allowed architects and homeowners to benefit from increased energy efficiency, sound insulation, and aesthetic flexibility. This article explores the ways in which double glazing affected 1960s home design and architecture, focusing on the integration with modernist design principles, adaptations to residential construction standards, and its influence on interior design and living spaces.

Integration with modernist design principles

In the 1960s, modernist architecture emerged as a popular design movement, driven by a desire for simplicity, functionality, and minimalism. Double glazing technology integrated well with modernist design principles, as it facilitated the use of large glass windows and walls while providing thermal insulation and sleek aesthetics.

Previously, single-pane windows were not energy efficient, leading to significant heat loss during colder months. Architects of modernist homes often faced a challenge in balancing the aesthetic appeal of large glass facades with the need for energy efficiency. Double glazing provided a solution to this problem by enclosing two panes of glass within an air (or gas) filled space, reducing heat transfer and helping to maintain a stable indoor temperature.

Moreover, the minimalist aesthetic of modernist architecture was enhanced by the thin profile of double-glazed windows. These windows could be installed with slim aluminum frames, further contributing to the clean lines and unobtrusive appearance characteristic of modernist home design. This new window technology also enabled architects to experiment with innovative design features, such as cantilevered upper floors supported by large expanses of glass.

Adaptations to residential construction standards

As awareness of the benefits of double glazing grew, it quickly became a common element in residential construction standards. The improved thermal efficiency provided by double-glazed windows played a key role in meeting directives for energy conservation in building regulations. Governments and construction companies began incorporating this technology as a standard component of new residential developments.

Window fabrication techniques and the availability of materials evolved to meet the increased demand for double glazing. Manufacturers developed more advanced techniques for producing sealed glass units, and aluminum became a popular choice for window frames due to its durability and narrow profile. This growth in production allowed for the widespread adoption of double glazing in residential home design.

Additionally, double glazing opened up possibilities for improved ventilation in homes. As windows served as both an effective insulator and a barrier to outside noise, homeowners could comfortably open windows for fresh air without worrying about excessive heat loss or noise pollution.

Influence on interior design and living spaces

Double glazing not only impacted the external appearance of 1960s homes but also had a significant influence on interior design and living spaces. The increased thermal efficiency of double-glazed windows allowed homeowners to explore open-plan living, where rooms flowed into one another without the need for partitions and walls to retain heat. This helped create a more fluid, connected living environment, which is considered by many as a hallmark of modernist design.

Furthermore, the large expanses of glass facilitated by double glazing increased the amount of natural light that entered homes. The increased light improved the aesthetic quality of living spaces, creating a more inviting atmosphere and promoting a connection between the indoors and outdoors. This reinforced the modernist ideal of merging interior and exterior environments—an idea that remains popular in contemporary home design.

To sum up, the advent of double glazing in the 1960s brought about significant changes in home design and architecture. Its compatibility with modernist design principles, along with its role in improving residential construction standards and influencing the creation of open and well-lit living spaces, solidified double glazing as a defining element in the architecture of the era. Today, double glazing remains a popular choice among homeowners and architects, as they continue to seek energy-efficient and versatile design solutions.

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FAQs on The Use of Double Glazing in Residential Homes During the 1960s

1. Were double-glazed windows popular in the 1960s for residential homes?

Although double-glazing technology was invented in the 1930s, adoption for residential homes became more common in the 1960s, as a solution for increased energy efficiency and better insulation from noise and weather elements.

2. How did residential homeowners insulate their homes before the widespread use of double glazing?

Before the use of double-glazed windows in the 1960s, homeowners relied on single-pane glass windows and would often use heavy curtains or drapes to help insulate their homes and reduce drafts and external noise.

3. What was the typical composition of double-glazed windows in the 1960s?

Double-glazed windows in the 1960s typically consisted of two panes of glass, separated by a small air gap. This space trapped air, providing insulation, protecting homes against cold and drafts, and reducing condensation on window surfaces.

4. Did double-glazed windows in the 1960s use inert gas between panes to improve insulation?

Early double-glazed windows did not use inert gas between the panes, unlike present-day technology. Still, they provided improved insulation when compared to single-pane windows, courtesy of the air trapped between the glass sheets.

5. In terms of cost and durability, how did the early double-glazed windows compare to modern-day versions?

Early double-glazed windows may have been more expensive to install than single-pane glass during the 1960s; however, they provided long-term savings in energy costs. Modern double-glazed windows offer better insulation, durability, and overall performance due to advancements in technology.


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