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The Case of the Glass Shelving

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Question About Glass Shelving Strength:

Dear Glass Detective,

We have used a 10mm toughened glass for shelves on a project. The designer originally specified 12.5mm laminated glass and as the edges were exposed the toughened glass was the better and saver choice. The problem is, the designer now says 10mm is sub-standard and not strong enough. So the question is, is 10mm toughened glass as good as 12.5mm laminated glass when it comes to shelving?


Tony G.

Answer to Question Regarding Glass Shelving Strength:


Thank you for contacting the Glass Detective with your question concerning the use of laminated glass or tempered glass for shelving. The very direct and simple answer to your question is yes- from a structural or loading point of view, a 10mm tempered/toughened piece of glass will perform as good as (if not better than) 12.5mm laminated glass under most stress/point loading events. But if broken, they react quite differently.

A piece of 10mm glass that is tempered is a one piece hardened object and while I do not know the exact application you are referencing, the 10mm tempered/toughened glass is not sub-standard for a shelving application of certain sizes. The 12.5mm glass assembly is two pieces of 6mm glass laminated together with a piece of vinyl…and not tempered/toughened unless chosen to be tempered/toughened. You are kind of comparing apples to oranges in one sense. You also do not indicate the sizes of the shelves in question or what they are going to be used for.

The ultimate decision (if cost is not too much of a consideration) would be to go with a tempered/laminated assembly where you take two pieces of 6mm tempered glass and laminate them together. You then have the best of both worlds although if the edges are exposed, the finished/exposed edge will not look as good as if only tempered glass had been used.

I am going to suggest that perhaps you look into the exact performance standards for the two types of products you may be considering and then make your decision. Also, I am going to strongly suggest you read other reports that we have issued about the differences between laminated and tempered glass. These products are not created equal and have very distinct properties. I hope this is of some help to you and I wish you well with your project!

-Glass Detective

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Lyle Hill

Lyle Hill has been in the glass and metal industry for more than 40 years. In this time he has managed glass retail, contract glazing, mirror, architectural window, window film, and automotive glass businesses throughout America. He obtained an MBA from IIT with a focus on Technology and Engineering Management. Hill is also a columnist for glass industry trade magazines and often called the “face” of the glass industry. He has also authored books including “The Broken Tomato and Other Business Parables,” which is available through Amazon. Find out more about Lyle on Linkedin.

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