With few places to go during a pandemic, many homeowners turned to home-improvement projects to keep busy. Kitchens and baths are two rooms getting a lot of attention, with upgrades and improvements that can also mean more opportunities for glass.

Daniel Snow is vice president of operations for Glass.com®, a web and information portal that provides glass-related information to consumers, as well as referrals to quality glass service providers throughout the United States. He says interest in glass showers saw tremendous growth over the past year.

“In 2020, Glass.com saw a 253% increase in homeowners requesting to upgrade, repair, or replace their showers compared to the previous year,” he says. “This was likely caused by a combination of factors, including people being home more. Glass.com’s auto glass replacement requests decreased significantly in 2020 because U.S. vehicle travel dipped by 332 billion miles. It shows that people spend their money where they spend their time.”

Speaking of the growth in the shower door market, Bill Daubmann, owner/CEO of My Shower Door in Naples, Fla., says he’s seen a number of recent trends.

“Our current trend has been extra-large panels using ½-inch low-iron glass,” he says. “Most of the new construction and remodels are using either white or very light gray color tile so if they choose ½-inch generic clear, the greenish tint [in the glass] is unattractive. The low iron product is best for this application.”

He adds there are also shower door hardware trends, with matte black increasing in popularity.

“Right now, it is our third most popular selling finish behind brushed nickel and polished chrome,” he adds.

Decorative glass options have also been popular in kitchens and baths. According to Donald Jayson, executive vice president of Bendheim in Wayne, N.J., his company has seen significant demand for monolithic decorative glass.

Home-improvement projects have increased due to COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, and bathrooms renovations have been getting a lot of attention.
Photo courtesy of Bendheim.

“We are assembling a collection of 10-12 mm glass specifically for shower door applications, including etched and textured glass varieties. The greater glass thickness is ideal for tempered shower applications with clean polished edges,” says Jayson. “Less obscuring patterns can be used to add depth and sophistication to the design.”

He continues, “We are seeing low-iron linear textured glass being incorporated more frequently in today’s kitchen and bath designs. Architects see it as an opportunity to add a decorative element that is timeless and easily coordinates with various aesthetics and finishes. Most importantly, it has the ability to provide visual privacy while maintaining a sense of openness.

“Linear designs are among the most specified, and can be used in both kitchens and baths – as pantry and cabinet door inserts, bath enclosures, and shower doors. Finely fluted glass creates ultra-privacy as it obscures views but allows light through, creating a contemporary, open appeal.”

According to the most recent American Institute of Architects (AIA) Home Design Trends Survey, focusing on kitchens and bathrooms, custom residential architects fared surprisingly well this past year, despite the negative economic impact of the pandemic on the design and construction sector. According to survey results, large walk-in showers continue to be a leading feature for bathrooms. Sixty percent of respondents, compared to 58% in 2019, pointed to the large walk-in showers as a top trend. In addition, 57% say they’re seeing requests for stall showers without tubs. Another trend this year, 38% of respondents say homeowners want to bring more daylight/natural light into their bathrooms.

Showers continue to be a leading consideration in bathroom design features. Sixty-two percent of respondents say doorless/no threshold showers are increasing in popularity while 29% reported upscale showers as also becoming more popular.

In the kitchen, there are also opportunities for increasing use of glass. According to the survey, 41% of respondents say demand for more daylight/natural light through larger windows is a growing trend.

Not surprising, given the increased push toward cleaning and sanitizing from the past year, respondents say they are also seeing growth in hands-free/sensor faucets (22%) and anti-microbial coatings (21%).

The survey also found that all custom residential sectors reported growth with home improvement continuing to report the strongest gains. On average firms estimate a 4% increase in revenue for the first quarter of 2021 compared to the fourth quarter of 2020; project billings were 65.2.