Published May 15, 2023 11:15:00 AM

Comparing 3 Divided Light Doorglass Options

Once required to create larger windows out of relatively small panes of glass, divided lights are now an architectural detail of windows and doorglass that adds charm and authenticity to a home. Many popular residential styles use distinctive divided lights as an essential element of the overall look and feel.

Today, many window and doorglass manufacturers achieve a divided light look with a single piece of glass or an insulated glass unit rather than the multiple used in a true divided light. This has many benefits, including better energy efficiency and a lower price point. We’ll go over three of those approaches that are offered by ODL and compare a few key factors.


First, what is a true divided light?

202304-ODL-Divided-Lights-TDLA true divided light (TDL) is a type of door or window glass that is made up of multiple panes of glass which are attached to grilles (also called muntins), usually made of either wood or metal. These panes often are arranged in a grid or diamond formation. Sometimes divided lights are referred to as multi-lights, but the product is the same. These divided lights showcase craftsmanship and have been used throughout history in different styles of home architecture.

One of the main benefits that true divided lights provide is a sense of historic charm. Many older houses were built using true divided lights, which give a distinct look due to each of the individual panes of glass reflecting light a little differently. Because each pane is sealed to the grille individually, older true divided lights can get drafty, decreasing the energy efficiency of the home. Modern home building projects can still emulate the historic appeal of true divided lights with the added benefits of enhanced glass manufacturing capabilities. 

Click here for a quick primer on doorglass terminology


Three options for a divided light look

From here on out, we will be discussing how we create divided light looks for doorglass. Window manufacturers who have divided light options may use slightly different terminology or methods to create a divided light look.


1. Simulated Divided Lights


Instead of using multiple, separate insulated glass units (IGUs), simulated divided lights (SDLs) feature a single IGU with both internal grilles between two panes of tempered safety glass and external grilles to closely mimic the look of a TDL. The outer grilles, which are molded to the doorglass frame, cover the mill finish internal grilles to create the illusion that each section of the divided light is separate from the next.

The result is a similar luxurious, historic feel to TDLs without the labor and associated cost involved in piecing multiple panes of glass together. SDLs are lower-maintenance than TDLs, and because there is only a single insulated glass unit being used, SDLs are more energy-efficient than classic divided lights and won’t degrade over time. We offer three frame options for SDLs: our traditional profiled Evolve® frame, the Craftsman frame, and the ZEEL® frame in the 22” x 17” Craftsman size.


2. Grilles Between Glass

202304-ODL-Divided-Lights-GBGAnother way to achieve a divided light look in doorglass is grilles between glass (GBGs). Rather than having an outer grille overlay on top of the glass, this type of divided light uses only an internal grille that goes between the two panes of glass in an IGU. These grilles come in many different colors, including black and bronze, which complement highly popular dark finishes and accents. GBGs don’t replicate the exact look of a TDL because it’s easy to identify that there are no grilles on the outside of the glass. However, these are the easiest types of divided lights to maintain, as there is no obstruction in the way when you clean the glass.

We offer hundreds of configurations of GBGs, including Traditional, Arts & Crafts, and Prairie styles to match any home. We also offer three bar widths, two flat and one contoured, so it’s easy to find the perfect fit. GBGs are typically lower priced than SDLs, and far more cost effective than TDLs.


3. External Grilles

202304-ODL-Divided-Lights-EXTThe final, and most cost-effective divided light product we offer is external grilles. This alternative to SDLs excludes the internal mill finish grille and uses a simplified frame with molded outer grilles. External grilles create a convincing divided light look from a distance, but it’s easy to see the single IGU construction up close.

The simplified construction of an external grille allows us to offer unique sizes and configurations, including diamonds, round tops, and the iconic gothic light. We offer external grilles in Clear and Low-E glass options.




At ODL, we offer divided light doorglass for any home and project budget. We’ve developed a handy Divided Light Comparison Guide with all of the basic information you need to make an informed decision on which product is your best fit. Talk to an ODL dealer to achieve the divided light look of your dreams for your entryway.


Traditional Simulated Divided Lights (SDL)

A mill finish grille between glass with our all-in-one SDL frame provides the look of a true divided light with the energy efficiency of a single light.

Learn More Where to Buy

Grilles Between Glass (GBG) – Standard 5/8" Bar

We offer a full assortment of clear glass, Low-E glass, and grilles between glass. Various colors, profiles, and widths of grilles will match any architectural detail in your home.

Learn More Where to Buy

Craftsman External Grilles

External Grilles complement stained or painted doors and are available for doors and sidelights.

Learn More Where to Buy

Related Blogs