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What Materials Scratch Glass?

August 18, 2021
scratch glass

Do you have a home with a ground-floor window near a sidewalk? What about an office or commercial storefront?

No doubt, you’ve seen it in the news at home and worldwide — the world has a glass graffiti (scratchitti) problem. How do people scratch glass if it’s supposed to be almost as hard as diamond? What tools do people use?

Keep reading to find out!

What Is Glass and What Is It Made Of?

It might surprise you to know that any material that is a “transparent amorphous solid” can be called a glass. What that means in familiar terms is that glass is not a liquid, as some have claimed. It also doesn’t have a fixed crystal structure like quartz, rubies, or even metals do.

Glass is basically silica sand that has been melted and allowed to cool. An amorphous solid doesn’t have a near-perfect pattern, or even groups of patterns like a polycrystal has.

If you need an example of the difference between a single crystal, take a look at solar panels. These are made from a single slice of a metallic silicon crystal. Polycrystalline solar panels, panels that look like blue camo, are groups of silicon crystals fused together as one.

The atoms haven’t quite arranged all the way into a single crystal pattern, but are groups of patterns fused together.

About 90% of the glass that’s manufactured is soda-lime glass. Boron and other materials are often added to glass to make it useful in different situations. Boron, for example, makes glass harder (and therefore harder to scratch).

What Can Scratch Glass?

Typical glass uses quartz, so anything the same or greater hardness will potentially scratch it. That said, quartz is a strong, hard material with a hardness rating of 7 but glass only comes in at 5.5 because of the arrangement of its atoms.

To scratch glass, you’ll need something harder than copper, made of steel or titanium, and a little bit of a sharp edge. If there’s a smooth but hard surface against the flat surface of glass, then it’s unlikely to scratch it.

Anything sharp and of sufficient hardness will scratch glass. This makes it difficult to protect against because almost anything in a vandal’s home can get used for tagging or scratching.

  • Metal files and fingernail files
  • Hardened steel keys
  • Screws
  • Razors
  • Screwdrivers
  • Diamond tipped drill bits
  • Carbide drill tips
  • Diamonds
  • Rubies
  • Whetstones
  • Ceramics

How to Deal With Scratched Glass

Dealing with scratched glass as a DIY effort rarely makes things better. In fact, you’re more likely to distort the glass or use the wrong treatment. This will undoubtedly make it worse.

Instead, let the professionals handle it. We can replace the glass and keep your business or home attractive. New glass technologies may not be able to completely stop the “tagging” of glass but they can certainly help.

Let Atlantic Glass give you the advice you need for dealing with this growing problem. We’ve been operating since 1995 and we’ve seen a thing or two. We’re committed to expert glass service, but also excellent customer service.

Get in touch with us today to see how Atlantic Glass can excel for you.

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