Glass fencing has a contemporary, sleek look that more of today's homeowners are embracing. It is as practical as it is beautiful, and has some distinctive advantages over other types of fencing. This includes the ability to outfit it with customized glass panel sections.

People tend to think of glass fencing as flimsy or delicate. Actually, today's versions are quite sturdy and comparable in strength to wood. Each customized glass panel is tempered. This is a process that involves super-heating and then rapidly super-cooling.

The tempering process makes a customized glass panel extra strong and shatter resistant. (Rather than breaking into shards upon impact, it will simply crumble into small, smooth-edged granules.) A lack of pointed edges makes clean-up safer and easier.

The most significant advantage of this kind of outdoor fencing over wooden fencing is longevity. It can last for two or three decades or even longer. (Annual weather-coating of metal parts can make it last for even longer; sometimes up to four or more decades.) In other words, dollar for dollar it is more cost-effective and requires less maintenance than wooden fencing.

Another big advantage is the ability to contain a yard or space without restricting view. This is especially beneficial for homes with views that add overall worth to the property. Fences with customized glass panel panes maintain views while providing a barrier and keeping pets and children safe inside. Plus, the fence itself adds resale value to the home.

When thinking of installing customized glass panel fencing around your home, yard or pool area, make sure that you consider these four things:

1) Privacy: Some home owners love the idea of preserving a view or adding resale value to their property. At the same time, however, they may still want a certain degree of privacy. Fortunately, it's possible to have the look, feel and value of glass while still maintaining privacy.

Home owners have numerous options when creating customized glass panel fencing. This includes choosing opaque or semi-transparent glass. Frosted, beveled and textured varieties not only increase privacy, but also lend artistic and aesthetic interest to customized glass panel pieces.

2) Your view: As already mentioned, customized glass panel fencing allows you to maintain view while still providing containment. If an unrestricted view is very important, consider frameless customized glass panels. Individual panels are not surrounded by a frame.

Instead, panels stand alone in between metal posts with a narrow space buffer on each side. Alternatively, panels can be anchored at the base only, with no posts in between each section but rather a narrow space. This type is sometimes referred to as "invisible fencing."

3) Safety: As previously mentioned, tempering makes fencing durable, break-resistant and impossible to shatter. This makes it an excellent choice for any home, even those with small children or pets.

One thing to think about if you do have pets or children is spacing between individual panels. Most professionals will advise you on how far apart to install them so that children cannot get stuck in the spaces. However, you should also check your local building codes. Many of them dictate how far apart panels should be spaced so as to ideally protect children.

Pets can also get themselves wedged in between or underneath panels, especially small pets. In this case, choose fencing without spaces in between paneling. This also eliminates any worry about small children becoming stuck.

4) Installation: It's wise to have this type of fencing professionally installed. Only very experienced do-it-yourselfers will be able to attempt this type of a project. Mistakes in installation can lead to serious injury or costly property damage. A customized glass panel fence is a substantial investment, so it's well-worth protecting.