Starphire Ultra-Clear® Glass is the Ultimate Blank Canvas for Superior Interiors

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Vitro Architectural Glass
Vitro Architectural Glass
Vitro Architectural Glass’s industry-leading products include a range of energy-efficient low-emissivity, low-iron and performance-tinted glasses. As North America’s largest and most trusted glass producer, Vitro strives to realize the future of glass across the architectural, automotive and containers markets through its partnerships and commitment to innovative, sustainable products and processes.  

Learn how Starphire Ultra-Clear® glass by Vitro Architectural Glass can impact daylighting, clarity and overall design excellence.

In the world of fine art, a master painter begins with canvas selection. For example, a linen canvas is nearly always selected over cotton because nothing delivers the artist’s authentic vision quite like linen.

Similarly, designers can maximize the creativity, vibrance and dimensionality of any project by selecting a superior architectural glass.

CTA Blue Line Chicago
Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) Addison Blue Line Train Station | Chicago, IL |Architect: Muller + Muller | Glass Fabricator: Skyline Design

While it’s true that glass manufacturers have made remarkable technological strides in recent years across a broad front, including energy efficiency, there remain major divisions in the way glass manufacturers approach clarity and light transmission.

To better understand these divisions, let’s look at how conventional clear glass and low–iron glass respectively can impact daylighting, clarity and overall design excellence – especially when it comes to interior design. 

Less Green, More Clarity

The metaphor of cotton versus linen canvases is especially apt in glass conversations because while both may look similar on the surface, there are remarkable differences when it comes to performance.

As good as today’s conventional “clear” glass is, it isn’t completely clear; typical clear glass has a slight but distinct green hue under light. While it has high visible light transmittance (VLT) and reasonable color neutrality and transparency, the green hue in clear glass intensifies as the thickness increases. The iron oxide content within glass is responsible for the green tint.

Amazon HQ Vitro Architectural Glass

Amazon HQ – Spencer Finch Glass Canopy | Seattle, Washington | Glass Fabricator: Goldray Glass | Photography: Photography courtesy of Goldray Glass
Amazon HQ – Spencer Finch Glass Canopy | Seattle, Washington | Glass Fabricator: Goldray Glass | Photography courtesy of Goldray Glass

In contrast, low-iron glass – glass with less iron oxide – eliminates the green cast inherent in clear glass, making it a preferred substitute for unique and specialized applications. As a result, clear glass falls significantly short of low-iron glass’s highest potential clarity (up to 87 percent less green tint) and generous 91 VLT rating.

In fact, there is no industry standard specification criteria for “clear” glass, the clarity of which can vary broadly between manufacturers and even batches of product.

While clear and low-iron glasses are produced using the same float process and equipment, low-iron glass requires a heightened level of purity in its raw materials, which results in its enhanced clarity and brilliance.

It’s no wonder why low-iron glass is the glass of choice for interiors and exteriors across a wide array of iconic structures, including Amazon HQSoFi Stadium, Frank Lloyd Wright’s FallingwaterChicago O’Hare International Airport and many more projects around the world.

Amazon HQ Seattle
Amazon HQ – Spencer Finch Glass Canopy | Seattle, Washington | Glass Fabricator: Goldray Glass | Photography courtesy of Goldray Glass

Extreme Neutrality as Aesthetic

Historically, the purest low-iron glasses have been prized for their ability to step away from the limelight – literally, as it turns out – and showcase daylight and exterior views. “The clarity of the glass allows it to appear invisible, a feature [Frank Lloyd] Wright admired,” explains Scott W. Perkins, director of preservation and collections for Fallingwater. In fact, Wright specified one of the glass industry’s first low-iron glass products in his original specification for his iconic house, which has been maintained with new lites of today’s version of that same product since its completion.

Vitro Architectural Glass Corporate Office
Image by Vitro Architectural Glass

The extreme neutrality of low-iron glass has sparked an aesthetic trend and is increasingly in demand for decorative interior design applications where clarity and connectivity between spaces is important or when maximized views from the inside out are the goal. Thanks to its minimal green coloring and pure clarity, low-iron glass provides a truly neutral substrate for dynamic patterns, colorful designs and more.

Five Decorative Applications

Glass industry experts have noted that low-iron glass, typically a preferred product for façade design, is increasingly being specified for interior elements such as decorative features, doors and partitions, stairs and handrails, shower and bath enclosures, kitchens and backsplashes, and anywhere maximum color fidelity enhances artistry.

Chicago O’Hare International Airport
Chicago O’Hare Airport, Terminal 5 | Chicago, Illinois | Architect: Epstein Global and commissioned by Westfield Group | Glass Fabricator: Goldray Industries | Photography: Goldray Industries

Starphire Ultra-Clear® glass by Vitro Architectural Glass is the design industry’s de facto low-iron standard, distinguished by its distinctive azure-blue edge and proprietary low-iron formula. Much like the pristine linen canvases preferred by painters, Starphire Ultra-Clear® glass is the ultimate blank slate for superior interiors.

Chicago O’Hare International Airport
Chicago O’Hare Airport, Terminal 5 | Chicago, Illinois | Architect: Epstein Global and commissioned by Westfield Group | Glass Fabricator: Goldray Industries | Photography: Goldray Industries

Today the canvas of low-iron glass supports virtually limitless decorative treatments, such as:   

  1. Dichroic Glass: Dichroic glass features an effect that creates brilliant color shifts and movement within a single lite of glass. These effects can be enhanced by using textured glass as one or more of the lites or muted with acid-etching. Dichroic glass is known for its chameleon-like effects, meaning that transmitted and reflected colors in the class can appear to change from different angles.
  2. Digital Ceramic Printing: Virtually any full-color design is printable directly onto the surface of low-iron glass – images, patterns or even text can be applied.
  3. Acid-Etched Glass: Offers a surface finish that diffuses transmitted light and reduces glare with a frosted appearance, often in a pattern. It is ideal for dividing walls, wall coverings, office partitions, shower and bath enclosures, floors, stairs and railings and doors. Acid-etching also is frequently used to create artistic patterns and in bird-friendly glass, which is also increasing in demand.
  4. Ceramic Frit. A permanent, opaque coating that is fired into the glass that offers pattern art ranging from simple shapes and gradients to intricate designs. Combine ceramic frit with coatings, tints, and reflected glass or apply to spandrel glass for a pop of design.
  5. Other Applications. Polished edge glass and laminated glass with tinted or patterned polyvinyl butyral interlayers offer additional decorative options for interior elements.
Vitro Glass Appache Office
Image by Vitro Architectural Glass

Durability and Strength

In addition to these aesthetic applications, Starphire Ultra-Clear® glass features superior strength at increased thicknesses making it ideal for use as safety glass for security cases and displays, entrances and storefronts. Starphire Ultra-Clear® glass also has the same hardness and resistance to abrasion and scratching as standard clear glass which means its stunning color fidelity and clarity is as protected from scratches and scuffs as clear alternatives, with less green distortion. Starphire® glass is available in a variety of thicknesses from 1/8-inch (3.2 mm) to ¾-inch (19 mm).

See Vitro Architectural Glass in Action!

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When your project calls for a superior canvas of glass for dynamic interior design, make low-iron glass a primary consideration. Learn more at or request a sample of Starphire Ultra-Clear® glass and experience the difference for yourself.

This article was updated from it’s original post on 4/28/23. All images courtesy of Vitro Architectural Glass.

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