How To Choose Between Laminated or Tempered Glass

By Lyle Hill


Dear Glass Detective:

I am confused about what type of glass to use to replace the broken glass in the window in my front door. I have been told that it needs to be safety glass and that there are two basic kinds. Can you tell me the difference between laminated glass and tempered glass? Are both of them safe to use?

Debbie O,

Elmhurst, IL

Dear Debbie:

When selecting safety glass for an application, whether decorative or functional, two choices often arise: tempered or laminated glass. Both qualify as “safety glazing materials” meaning they comply with the current safety glazing codes, so they can be used indoors, in sidelites, railings and other locations which may be deemed hazardous. But tempered glass and laminated glass each have distinct and different advantages.

The Pros and Cons of Tempered (Toughened) Glass

Tempered glass is made by heating and cooling a piece of standard glass in a tempering furnace. The glass, which must be pre-cut and edged before being put into the tempering furnace, is heated to approximately 1200°F and then cooled rapidly.

This process is also known as quenching. The quenching process leaves the glass hardened so that it is now approximately 4 to 5 times stronger, and therefore more resistant to breakage, then it was before the tempering process. If it does break, tempered glass shatters in small pieces that are less likely to cause injury or damage than non-tempered glass.

The Pros and Cons of Laminated Glass

Laminated glass is basically a glass sandwich. It is made of two or more plies of glass with a vinyl interlayer between (sandwiched, if you will, as in a car’s windshield). The glass will tend to stay together and case one in is broken – thus qualifying as a safety glazing material.

The other key advantage to laminated glass is that it blocks 99 percent of the UV-light transmission, has sound reduction properties, it can be cut and its edges can be polished after laminating, and lead times are generally faster because most glass shops stock laminated glass. Certain thicker, multilayered forms of laminated glass can even qualify as burglar- and bullet-resistant glass.

Because laminated glass holds up to impact better than other types of glass, this is what is used in modern windshields. The sandwiched interlayer gives the glass structural integrity and keeps it from shattering apart like tempered glass might. This is key for effective airbag deployment and helping to keep occupants inside the vehicle in the event of a crash.

This intact breakage illustrates how tempered glass forms tiny, countless pieces. However, most tempered glass shatters to the ground upon impact.

Note that even though there was a powerful impact, this tempered glass has remained structurally intact.

Tempered vs Laminated: How To Choose The Right One For Your Job

So for strength and breakage-resistance, temper glasses often is the first consideration. For flexibility, UV-resistance, security and sound considerations, laminated glass is often the product of choice. Both are considered safety glazing materials and can be obtained in a variety of thicknesses and colors or tints. Both are easy to clean and maintain when installed properly.

Typically, laminated glass products are a slightly higher price than chamfered products of the same type and thickness. The optical clarity for both laminated and tempered glass are excellent in either product will provide many years of satisfactory service in your front door.

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12 responses to “How To Choose Between Laminated or Tempered Glass”

  1. Hi,
    I am building a house n it has a courtyard of 12 ft width x 40 ft length. Which type of glass should b used on top of it and v propose to lay the glass without any inbetween support.

    • Hi Santhosh,

      Thank you for the question! We received the request that you submitted to the Glass Detective and will be reaching out to you directly with an answer.

    • Hi Fran,

      Thanks for the question! A combination of both tempered and laminated glass would be necessary when you want the advantages of both increased strength (breakage resistance) and the ability of the glass to stay in place (temporarily, due to the polycarbonate interlayer of laminated glass) if it breaks. Also, at any time the building code would require it the use of both would be necessary.

      I hope this helps!

  2. How much $ is square foot 1/4″tempered glass and same question for 1/4″ laminated glass.
    Thank you
    Ylli

    • Hi Ylli,

      Thanks for the question! The cost could vary depending on the location of the project, and how much you need in total. Please submit a request on Glass.com and we will be happy to provide you with an accurate quote!

  3. Colour laminated glass is very similar to clear laminated glass but with the addition of a coloured interlayer. These allow for a rich palette of colour permutation, ranging from subtle transparent and translucent colours to opaqu

  4. If I want to use laminated glass in my balcony windows to cut UV coming in, do I have to order extra clear glass for keeping the clarity of views? Or two 6mm glass +PVB is fine ?

    • Hi Josephine,

      This is a great question! But it will require an answer from our resident expert, the Glass Detective. We will be in touch with you shortly.

      Thanks!

      • Here is what our Glass Detective had to say:

        Josephine,
        Regular laminated glass will give you a regular view. No need to order extra clear (aka low iron) glass unless you want an above ordinary clear view. I suggest you stop in at your local glass shop where you intend to purchase the glass and ask to see a sample of each. The PVB should not have any real effect on overall clarity.

  5. Hi.
    Which glass will be useful for a building court yard area(2.1 x 1.8m2),which means we need to walk above the glass.i will cut the glass by 4 pieces.laminated or toughened?

    • Hi Bob, here is the response from our Glass Detective:

      Thank you for contacting the Glass Detective with your recent request for advice on what kind of glass might be best for a courtyard project. My answer will be short but probably not what you were hoping for. Here it is:

      There are a number of things to take into consideration when determining what type of glass to use for any project. The first is safety … What type of glass will give you a safe installation while also complying with all applicable safety codes? You need to start with an understanding of the code requirements in your area. Then you can consider what type of performance you want (sound reducing, heat reducing, glare reducing, UV blocking and aesthetics – color and so forth). So, from the information you provided, I cannot give any recommendations. I strongly suggest you spend a few minutes with a reputable glass shop in your area and maybe even a few minutes with an architect who is familiar with your area’s code requirements. I hope this is of some help to you. Glass Detective

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