Design Detail: Glass chinking

Mountain Living’s September/October 2012 issueâon newsstands and at nowâshowcases one of our all-time favorite design details: glass chinking.

photo by Gibeon Photography

In an effort to bring modern styling to a Jackson, Wyoming, home with traditional Western features, architect Tom Ward suggested to his client that, for the walls of the barn-like structure, they fill the gaps between the logs with glass instead of mortar chinking. The client enthusiastically agreed, and Ward found himself faced with a technical nightmare. âWe know that logs sag over time,â he explains, âand if you squeeze glass between several thousand pounds of droopy logs, it will crack. The glass manufacturers and log guys we talked to thought we were nuts.â

Fortunately, Ward and his colleagues came up with a solution, composed of two key elements:

A Glass Sandwich The four-inch-wide strips of glass are three-quarter-inch-thick laminated sandwiches composed of a central layer of strong yet flexible tempered glass and outer layers of textured, light-diffusing cast glass.

Steel Shims Half-inch steel plates are set into grooves in the logs at six-foot intervals. The glass chinking is set into these plates, which serve as a stable interface that keeps the wood and glass from physically interacting. âWeâre coming up on four years since we finished building, and there havenât been any cracks yet,â Ward says.

To see more of this remarkable house, click here.