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How To Choose Between Laminated vs. Tempered Safety Glass

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Question Regarding Laminated vs. Tempered Glass Windows:

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

Answer to Question Regarding Laminated vs. Tempered Glass:

Dear Debbie:

When selecting safety glass for an application, whether decorative or functional, two choices often arise: tempered or laminated glass. Both qualify as types of “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) Safety 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 Safety 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 security 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.

Keep in mind that tempered glass cannot be cut. Once glass has undergone the tempering process, piercing the surface will cause the glass to explode. If using tempered glass for a project, be sure that all sizing is completed before the glass is tempered. In contrast, laminated glass can typically be cut and sized at any time without issue, which could be a benefit for some projects.

Typically, laminated glass products are a slightly higher price than tempered 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 door or window.

Transcription of Breaking Tempered Glass Video

Daniel: So we’re here to break some more glass! What do we have today?

Dustin: So this is an insulated unit. This is essentially what most windows are made up of. It’s two pieces of glass with a spacer in between that creates dead air space, and that’s what insulates it.

Daniel: So this basically what you would find in a residential home for people’s windows?

Dustin: Absolutely. Also in a commercial setting; very similiar process. So this pieces of glass is actually a safety glass. It’s tempered. Both sides are actually tempered. So it takes a really good shot. It’s rigid. But it’s point sensitive, which is why we’ve given you this fun tool to break it with.
So when it breaks- and it doesn’t break like a regular piece of plate glass in big pieces- it breaks into small pieces so if it were to fall on you, obviously it doesn’t hurt you as bad. So why don’t you show us what happens when you break tempered glass.

So what’s really cool about tempered, for me, is that you can typically tell where it breaks from. So it actually spiderwebs from the location. Now, this will continue to crack. It will continue to break.

Daniel: Yeah, we can actually hear it right now.

Dustin: You can hear it, right. And then eventually it will fall out. So tempered glass breaks into these small pieces. Will these cut you? For sure. This can definitely still cut you. It’s still glass. But the reality of it is, this doesn’t cut you as bad, or can cut you as bad, as what the larger pieces do.

So when tempered glass breaks, it breaks into small pieces. We noticed earlier when you hit it, that you kind of bounced off a time or two, right? You didn’t necessarily put much swing into it. Well, tempered is point sensitive because there’s energy trapped inside, but it’s also edge sensitive. So what I want to let you do, is I want you to hit the edge of it. But instead of using a point, I’m going to let you wrench it around and see what you can make happen.

Daniel: Alright, let’s see what happens.

Dustin: Give her a shot!

Daniel: So you can see it’s just kind of like a little chip right there.

Dustin: For sure. Now here’s an interesting piece of this- a lot of times you find or hear of glass breaking spontaneously, right? Spontaneous glass breakage. Something like this can actually cause this piece of glass to break in six months, or in a year. And if that got chipped at some point during the process of making it, and it still got installed, that can explain some crazy day where this piece of glass blows up.

Daniel: And that’s actually really common in the automotive world with sunroofs especially. Those are a lot of times made of tempered glass. People say that they’ll just be driving down the road and all of a sudden the sunroof explodes.

Dustin: Yea, it’s just one of those things that’s really hard to explain and if you try to put a story behind it, there’s really no telling. But that right there can cause an issue for sure down the road.

Daniel: Alright, so let’s take another stab at it…It’s tougher than it looks!

Dustin: Alright, there you go. So with the right amount of force and hitting it at the right angle definitely causes the issue of having it come apart. The other beauty of this is, we didn’t have the back side to hold it in, so you saw that one actually came apart. Similiar story with the sunroof exploding. So there you have it man, that’s kind of how the whole tempering process works.

Transcription of Breaking Laminated Glass Video

Daniel: This is laminated glass.

Dustin: This is laminated. So laminated is a type of safety glass. There’s essentially three safety glasses. Tempered, laminated, and then an acrylic or plexiglass, which is kind of a plastic base.
So what we have here is two pieces of glass that are laminated together with a film- an adhesive film. And essentially this is annealed, or plate glass, on both sides.

Daniel: And so where would you find this?

Dustin: So interesting fact: Almost everybody looks through this nearly every day because this is what your windshield is made out of. But also we use this in a lot of areas for storefront. If you see a gas station that has been broken into, sometimes this is what we put in to deter thieves from getting in. It’s a lot harder to get into.
We also use it in bullet-resistant glass. They laminate multiple pieces together. You’ll find it sometimes in residential. And in those cases it’s typically in a hurricane (prone) area where you have to have some blast type of glass.

Daniel: Alright well let’s take a shot at trying to break this and kind of demonstrate what that laminated interlayer does for the glass to keep it together.

Dustin: For sure!

Daniel: Wow!

Dustin: So that’s a great first shot. You can see where it broke from. Just like most glass, you can always see where it spiderwebs from and where it goes. That actually looks a lot like what your windshield looks like when a big rock hits it, right? Maybe not quite that extreme. But you can also tell that it’s still intact. This piece of glass’ integrity is there.

Daniel: It’s solid.

Dustin: Correct. I mean, it’s not going anywhere. It also is really not likely to cut you. All of these runs that you see…

Daniel: It’s pretty much totally smooth.

Dustin: It’s smooth! It’s held together by the interlayer. So why don’t you give it a couple more hits in the same spot so we can show just what it takes to literally get through this thing.

So what you can see is the interlayer. You can see the plastic interior of the laminate piece. It actually holds together really really well. So what you’ve done is broken the glass away but the interlayer is still there.

Daniel: Yea, so that’ll deter theft, like you said, in a storefront. If you’re in your automobile and this is your windshield then it’s going to keep your windshield together while you’re going down the road, or god forbid, if you hit the windshield.

Dustin: So a cool piece of this is, all of this damage that you’ve done and this thing is still together. It hasn’t come apart. It won’t hurt you essentially. It could. But for the most part, this is what makes this a safety glass.

Daniel: Yea, and that’s extremely important for residents like in Florida where they have a lot of hurricanes; there’s a lot of wind damage; storm damage. So if this was a window on your home, I think you’d be pretty safe during a hurricane.

Dustin: For sure. You hear about windows blowing out all the time. This would be one of those windows that doesn’t do it.

Questions? Contact The 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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137 Responses

  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.

    1. 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.

    1. 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

    1. 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 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 ?

    1. 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.


      1. Here is what our Glass Detective had to say:

        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?

    1. 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

  6. Hi,
    I was advised to put in my bathroom sliding shower doors which will go on top of the tub. The company that gave an estimate offered me to put laminated glass,I’m a lil confused wouldn’t it be better to have tempered glass,instead of laminated for sliding shower doors in the bathroom. Thank you so much !

    1. I would strongly recommend you stay with the tempered glass for a tub enclosure. Laminated is certainly an option but tempered glass is much stronger and I have some concerns about the glass edges if you use a laminated glass because the constant exposure to moisture can cause a problem over time with delamination. Maybe there is some reason why the contractor in question is offering or suggesting laminated glass that I am not aware of, but there are good reasons why 95% or more of tub and shower enclosures use tempered glass.
      The Glass Detective

  7. We want vertical partition on a long wall of Research Laboratory ( 70′) long. The height has to be between 8′-6″ to 9′. Whereas at bottom about 3′ height laminated particle board is thought of so that being Mezzanine floor the SS railing is not visible from the Lab. Which glass toughened or laminated is recommended. if laminated one thickness and cost thereof may kindly be shared.

    1. From the Glass Detective:

      Thank you for reaching out to the Glass Detective regarding your upcoming project. I will try to be helpful. To begin with, based on the information you have provided, I believe you are most likely going to want to go with tempered glass. Because you have introduced the prospect of a railing system near the glass, you will need to check in with a local architect/engineer in your area to verify all code requirements for an installation of this type. There is a slight possibility that you will end up using a tempered/laminated combination for your final glass selection. Obviously, you will need to divide the glass wall area up into multiple lights of glass due to its size (70′ long) and you do not reference any type of framing concept (lites of glass framed individually or butt jointed vertically). If you butt joint the glass you will need to accommodate the top and bottom edges of the glass with an adequate frame component. Given the size of this project and the questions you have asked, I think it best for you to select an architect to work with who is familiar with these types of glass installations as well as code requirements to help guide you through this process. Lastly, we do not provide pricing for projects. Once you have developed a formal concept/plan, we encourage you to reach out to local glass shops that can provide you with competitive bids. Thank you again for contacting us.

  8. Hi,

    I would like to install a glass whiteboard, for writing on. I was originally looking at retail products which were made from tempered glass and a process called Ceramic Fritting to apply a coloured finish to one side. When I started looking around locally, a glass shop mentioned something they called “Lami” glass, which I am assuming is what is being compared here. They said I could achieve a similar result for a lot cheaper with that product. This glass will not be installed in a location where impact is probable, so it really makes no difference to me as long as the finish is smooth enough to write on in the end. I will however need some holes to be drilled for standoffs and the edges and corners rounded off. Are you able to recommend my best option?

    Thank you.

    1. From the Glass Detective:
      Aarif, In response to your request for some guidance regarding “glass marker boards”, I am going to give you my opinion … what I would do if I were buying glass marker boards for my own use. With this in mind, I need to point out that there is a reason that probably 90% or more of the glass marker boards being sold today are made with tempered glass. Stronger, less expensive and easier to produce nice clean polished edges are the primary reasons. Even if you want to go with a custom color or shape, I still would recommend tempered glass. Laminated glass will work but it would not be my first choice. I hope this helps you in some way and thank you for reaching out to the Glass Detective!

  9. I am going to use glass shelving in a niche.
    Which type of glass should I use and what thickness.
    Shelf will be for decoration only.
    Thank you

    1. Thanks for the question Connie! Tempered glass will be fine for this application and can feature a variety of finished edges, depending on your aesthetic preferences. Since the shelf is for decorative purposes only, relatively thin glass can probably be used, but will depend on the overall size of the shelves. Don’t forget to use to find a local glass shop to supply the shelves.

  10. recently a painter got stain blocker on my frosted glass bathroom window and nothing would remove the white marks, the company have agreed to replace the glass and the glazier has recommended laminate as its easy to clean as shiny on both sides and this wont happen. do you agree? thank you

    1. Hi Gillian, I would default to your local expert who will be able to visually evaluate your specific situation. But yes, laminated glass could be the appropriate selection here.

  11. My brother was talking about using toughened glass and its benefits. He too described tempered glass as being strong and durable and its easy cleanliness. This is so interesting to me since I did not know about these different types of glass.

  12. I had fixed toughened ( tempered glass) on my roof top – Approximate length 12 feet – width 5 feet – two years back. Because of the length, the glass was made in three pieces and attached. I faced two major problems

    1. Leaks were there post summer due to the glue used for joining the three glasses were giving way, flooding my ground floor room exposed to the roof. Periodically, workers have to climb up and fix the leaks.

    2. This summer the glass has developed cracks and the glass vendor says he has to replace the glass.

    Since I fixed the glass at high cost, is there any other alternative and whether I have to go in again for the tempered glass.

    If so which is the right quality and what should be the thickness? Approximate cost likely.
    I am at Bangalore in India.

    1. Hi Ram,

      Thanks for the question! Our Glass Detective is currently out solving other glass mysteries, but I’ll do my best to provide you with insights.
      1. Leaks in skylights are fairly common. An old adage goes “There are 2 kinds of skylights- those that leak, and those that will leak.” Leaks are usually caused in 2 places- the seal around the lite itself, and the flashing around the frame. Sealing these 2 areas is paramount. There could even be a flaw in the frame itself. These would need to be evaluated by a professional.

      2. 12 ft. x 5 ft. lites are very large- a good portion of their structural integrity simply goes towards supporting their own weight. Proper framing plays an essential role in this as well so this may be the first place to start. A local, reputable glazing contractor should be able to evaluate your particular situation and make recommendations on the thickness. Safety glass (laminated) is most likely the proper glass for your application though.

  13. My wife runs a small shop in town and just last night she had her front window break and while it’s just cracked right now, we don’t know how long it will hold up. I liked that you had mentioned that because of the way that the tempered glass is made, that makes it stronger and more resistant to breaking. Since we’ve had this glass crack, we might have to look into someone who can install tempered glass for her front window, this way we can feel more comfortable knowing that it’s a strong front window.

  14. Hi – for a verandah glass roof I’ve been told by the glass company they will use toughened glass and will be 25ml double glazed. Would this roof be strong enough to uphold heavy rain, snow etc without breakages. Just need to be convinced as the company I want to use often waffle on just so that they get the business. The roof will will be approximately 20 foot wide with suitable supports.
    Thank you

    1. Proper support and framing is critical in ensuring structural integrity in these types of installs. Rain should not be an issue, and snow would depend on the amount that your area receives. It is hard to say without knowing the full details of the project. The company you are working with is likely making their best educated recommendation, while also trying to minimize liability by not making any guarantees.

  15. Hi,
    We had a situation in our store where the sliding glass door basically blew up and shattered into a billion little shards while a team member was locking up shop. The doors are tempered glass. What could be the reason for this and how can we avoid this from happening in future installs?

    1. Hi Maria,

      I’m sorry to hear of the misfortune! I have personally seen this happen with a tempered glass table, and some vehicle owners have even experienced it with their sunroofs. Sometimes it can be attributed to temperature changes, or extreme temperatures. Glass doors should be handled delicately, especially in these conditions. Another reason could be impurities in the glass. Because of this, it is important to choose a door from a quality manufacturer.

  16. Hi there,
    I am constructing a skylight at my home. I would like to make use of 6mm laminated glass is this advisable?
    The dimensions will be 2400 x 1200 at 22deg. pitch.

  17. Hi Daniel,
    I would like to repurpose a 1/4″ (6mm) tempered glass shower door as a sloped awning over an entry. The dimensions of the glass are 30″x60″. My question is whether there is a chart available that can tell you what thickness of glass is needed for what loads? There would be a 40″ span, 30″wide of unsupported glass. We are in Vancouver, BC so do not get much snow, but we do get some. Would doubling the glass doors up (two are available) make any difference or would they have to be laminated for the doubling to make them stronger?
    Thanks for sharing your expertise!

    1. Brenda,

      We’re glad to hear that you are repurposing old glass for new projects! This is a unique case, so we have passed the question on to our Glass Detective who should be getting back to you with an answer shortly!

  18. Hi, would 6.4 mm laminated glass be suitable for windows of a metre square? They are to be fixed vertically in timber frames.
    Or should I go thicker?

    1. Thicker is always better … well, maybe not always, but usually. This should be Ok though as long as the glass is glazed properly and framing is secure.

    1. From our Glass Detective – A very slight and insignificant difference. However, It does give 99% UV resistance/blockage, a little bit of sound resistance and is a safety rated glass so it(laminated) is the better product.

  19. My brother enjoyed this article because he’s planning to have tempered glass on his phone. He’s now looking up some services who can provide him with tempered glass. He likes it that this article mentioned that tempered glass is four to five times stronger than laminated it that this article mentioned that tempered glass is four to five times stronger than laminated glass.

  20. laminated glass with transparent (no color) vs light green will have different light reflectance?
    say light green reflect 10% more than transparent? Please advise

    1. There are multiple options when it comes to tinting laminated glass. Also, surface applied films can offer an array of green tint options. I am not sure what you are trying to achieve here … whether it is a reflectance issue or a light/color transmittance issue but tinted laminated glass can align itself very well with non-laminated tinted glass of the same color/tint and thickness. Reflectance and transmission percentages are very, very close. Check out for comparison purposes but remember, the options are virtually limitless. Hope this helps!

  21. hello sir,
    i am constructing my new home. the plot is corner plot. The final design which we had constructed at a corner plot are having bigger windows . Architecture proposed to fix aluminium (Sucho Brand). In same they suggest us security glass without grills. we are very much concern about security point of view. kindly suggest weather , laminated plus toughened is sufficient and it is secured or not. planning for 17mm security . Same shall be breakage free or not in any circumstances. plz suggest.

    1. The Glass Detective thanks you for making contact with your glass question and the simple, straight forward answer is as follows: Your architect should be very familiar with the building codes and conditions of the area in which your home is being built. The 17mm laminated under tempered safety glass is an excellent product when installed properly. It gives security, some sound reduction and UV protection as well.You may want to have a conversation with the company that will be doing the actual installation to get their recommendations and comments also. Generally, I think you should follow your architect’s advice if you have confidence in him/her.

  22. Hi sir, for a scenic elevator, what type of glass shall we use for the elevator car panels? The original glass panel installed has some cracks and we need to replace it.

    1. Laminated glass would likely be the best option for this application. A local reputable shop will be able to provide more input based on visual inspection.

  23. Dear Glass Detective,

    I have a horizontal skylight of 1.5 x 1.75 meters, that I need covered with double glazing. For the inside, I’m opting for 4mm plus 4mm laminated glass, but I’m unsure about the best choice for the outside layer. I wanted a 6mm tempered glass outside, but then someone told me that normal glass is better, since tempered glass can shatter because of temperature differences. Others have recommended another laminated glass for the outside, but yet others have had concerns that that would crack too. I’m worried that normal glass won’t be strong enough (cats fighting on top, snow, someone throwing a big enough stone, etc.).

    Any advice for the optimum configuration for the outside pane would be very much appreciated.

  24. Hi – I have a bullet hole in a large window (74X96). One person I received a quote for recommended tempured glass whereas another quote said lamited….



    1. Hi David,

      We’ve sent this one off to our Glass Detective and he should be getting back to you with an answer shortly.


    1. Hi Rastello,

      Yes, to some extent it does. I have however seen tempered glass with chips on the edge last for many years. If the chip is exposed, like on a piece of furniture, it should be replaced. If the chip is covered (by a frame of some sort), and the glass is stationary and non-load bearing, it may be able to be left alone. It really is dependent on the use of the glass.

      -The Glass Detective

  25. We are considered a front door glass insert repair. It was a panel of leaded and beveled glass. We are going to replace it with a piece of tempered private glass. Is an area of 62 inch X 20 inch too big for the tempered glass for security reason?

    1. Hi Sue,

      Thanks for the question! You should always consult with your local glass shop who will be able to evaluate your particular project in person, but a 1/4″ thick piece of tempered glass should be fine.

  26. Hi Glass Detective,

    What is the preferred glass used on a framed shower screen door? And why?

    Thank you for your reply.


    1. The most common (and appropriate) glass used in shower doors and enclosures is fully tempered safety glass. This type of glass is used in these applications because of its strength (typically 4-5 times stronger and more resistant to breakage than ordinary annealed glass) and if it does break, it tends to break into small and much less harmful pieces than other glass products. Most smaller tub and shower doors are made with 3/16” or 7/32” fully tempered glass. What are commonly referred to as “heavy glass shower doors/enclosures” are typically made with 3/8” or 1/2” glass. The heavy glass products are typically used for “all glass enclosures” which often swing off of architectural style hardware (hinges) or have minimal hardware anchor points.

  27. How impact-resistant is tempered glass?

    Would a tempered glass window withstand a thrown shoe, apple, tennis ball, or metal spoon thrown at it; as well as cracking?

    If someone was to throw a ceramic coffee mug, a glass cup, or an empty beer bottle at tempered glass, would it break the glass?

    If any of these do break tempered glass, is there any type of window glass that is stronger, and able to withstand those impacts?

    Asking because I have a friend who sometimes comes over and sometimes suffers from behaviorial issues.

    1. Tempered glass is typically 4-5 times stronger (more resistant) to impact than non-tempered glass of a similar thickness. This is why it is used (and code approved) for shower doors, vehicle doors (and backlights) and in safety glazing code applications (doors and sidelights in stores as an example).

      I have been involved with a number of tests and acted as an expert witness on legal cases involving tempered glass. There are engineering reports available from some of the tempering companies that will provide you with exact calculations for their products if this is what you think may be useful to you. As for your specific questions about shoes and empty beer bottles and such, the quick answer is that none of these objects will most likely break a ¼” piece of tempered glass if thrown in a soft enough manner. Remember the old Einstein equation … E=mc(2)? Energy (force) is developed by mass times some given speed. So in your example, if the empty beer bottle that is going to be thrown against a piece of ¼” glass is thrown with enough force (speed/energy) it could break the glass. However, for many years the glass in hockey rinks was primarily heavy (typically ¾”) tempered glass (mostly treated polycarbonate panels are used now) and those hard rubber hockey pucks often hit those glass panels at speeds of 100 mph or more. Racquet ball courts that have glass walls (which I have hit with my racquet or run into more times than I want to remember) are typically ¾” fully tempered glass. So you get the idea here, I hope.

      Remember that the angle of incidence with which an object hits tempered glass will affect how it reacts. Many years ago I was involved with a test on 3/8” tempered glass for a well know fast food chain. One of the things that has stayed with me these many years is that under testing, a piece of 3/8” tempered glass could take a glancing hit from a BB gun or pellet gun (at a distance of about 20 feet) and not break. But when the device was fired straight at the glass from the same distance, the glass almost always broke. We did similar tests on 3/16” and ¼” tempered glass with rocks and marbles and had similar results.

      There are certain types of glass/ceramic products that are stronger than even tempered glass although even bullet resisting glass breaks (which is why it is correctly referred to as bullet resisting and not bullet proof by people in the industry). The cost of these “superior products” is extreme.

      Thank you for contacting the Glass Detective and I hope the above comments are of some help to you.

  28. Hello,

    Thank you for the great article and information! I am repurposing laminated hurricane windows and am curious if I can use one over a tub. Will laminated impact windows with PVB meet the Florida building code (or others) for glass over a tub?


    1. Hi Carissa,

      We’re glad you liked the article! We have affiliates throughout the United States, so unfortunately we cannot stay up to date on all the building codes as they vary from county to county. Please reach out to your local government offices for this information.

      Thank you!

  29. Hello,
    I live in the mountains and we often get window breakages in large windows in the winter due to thermal shock. My window is 6 foot by 7 foot and double glazed. Am I better off getting laminated or tempered glass to resist the cracking due to thermal shock?

  30. I would like to create a mirrored photo booth picture frame.

    It is my understanding that tempered glass can have a distorted effect that would make a mirror distorted. Is there a particular type of tempered glass that would have the least amount of distortion for making a full length two way mirror in a large picture frame out of?

    Can you give me any suggestions as to what two way mirrored glass you would buy for a large format picture framed mirror that would be moved around often?

    1. Hi Don,

      If the word “two way” means being able to use it as a true mirror from both sides of the glass while also being able to see through it as well, it would be difficult to do without tempering. If they simply mean a mirror on each side (back to back) you can laminate two pieces of mirror back to back which would qualify as a safety glazing product. As an aside, today’s tempered mirrors are significantly better than in the past and may work just fine.

      -Glass Detective

      1. Thank you for your learned advice Glass Detective.

        By two way I mean to say see through from the darker side and a mirror on the more lit up other side or outside.

      2. While I have you in the 20 questions and answers kinda spirit.

        Which see through one way mirror type could have no metal involved in the glass/plexi or coatings. Would dielectic qualify has no metals included mirror? If not what could you suggest?

  31. I have what appears to be laminate glass on my boat windows, now the edges are starting to what appears separating from the vinyl interlayer (it shows like air inside). Does it means that if my glass breaks, that separated part could be dangerous as a regular glass?

  32. Hello,
    so what would you recommend to use laminated or tempered for inside of pool, as a window in the pool that goes to the edge of the pool?

  33. Double glazed windows versus laminated glass windows.

    Which does a better job at reducing heat entering thru the glass into the house & external mouse from neighbours entering the house?

    1. Glass used in aquariums can be a little bit difficult to choose when dealing with over-sized assemblies and your’s qualifies as one based on the sizes you have provided. There are actually charts that give recommended thicknesses based on the volume of the tank. I have made a couple of small aquariums (about 20 gallons each) and was quite proud of myself for using clear glass on the front and green tinted glass in the back. However, I used the wrong sealant and my fish died. Make sure you use the right sealant!!! My recommendation is that you check out a company by the name of Fish Geeks. They are good with this stuff. Website is Phone number is 612/444-3444.

  34. I am shopping online for a dining table and prefer glass tops. I noticed that the tempered glass tops seem to be a bit more expensive but i hear stories about shattering or exploding. A lot of the shops just mention “glass”. Is there a regulation on the kind of glass table tops are supposed to use? My basic concern is safety.

    1. While there are ASTM standards for glass used in (and on) furniture assemblies, codes do not necessarily exist for this so it can be a touchy subject with some amount of confusion. As you kind of suggest, tempered glass can explode when it breaks and the small pieces that are produced can get into your eye and even produce small but not serious cuts. Also, anything on the tempered glass will fall through it when it explodes (upon breaking). Non tempered glass can cut you into ribbons when it breaks if you were to fall on it or through it when it breaks. If you are absolutely convinced safety is your ultimate concern, you may want to go with a tempered/laminated glass assembly. Much more expensive but much safer as well.The edges will not finish as nicely because of the butyl interlayer but it will be a much safer piece than either of the other types. Finally, I want to strongly suggest you visit with a reputable glass shop in your area and look at samples and get comparative pricing for each of the above types.

  35. It sure got my attention when you said that among the advantages of laminated glass are the fact that they block up to 99% of UV rays and they have sound reduction qualities. Using that kind of glass for the windows is like hitting two birds with one stone then. My sister prefers the place to be quiet while I do not want UV rays penetrating in the living room since it ruins the furniture upholstery. Thank you for sharing this.

  36. I did like it when you said that laminated glass is a good option for doors and windows because not only do stores have a lot of stock in the market, laminated glass can also easily qualify as bullet-resistant glass. if that is true, then I will be sure to mention this to my brother who is planning to have a store built. He said he wants the storefront door to be bullet resistant, and I think this will do the trick. Thank you!

  37. I didn’t know that tempered glass would be 4 or 5 times stronger than regular glass and break into smaller pieces that don’t cause injury or damage. It makes me wonder what kinds of things are made with tempered glass. Is a phone screen tempered? This is very interesting information, thanks again for the pros and cons of the different kinds of glass.

  38. Hi,
    I am building a wine cellar under my staircase and i am fabricating a door ( hardwood frame) i want to put a glass in the door so we can see the racks and bottle inside. What would be the best type of glass considering good insulation property and high resistance to impact (i have childrens). Also what product is best to use to seal the glass in the door at assembly?

    1. Thank you for contacting the Glass Detective regarding your request for some help in selecting the appropriate glass for your new wine cellar doors. Based on what you have indicated, I would suggest 3/16″ or 1/4″ fully tempered glass. A bead of clear silicone should be adequate for sealing purposes. If you are worried about temperature control, you could use an insulated unit but you will probably still want to use tempered glass. I hope this is of some value to you and good luck with your project.

  39. Thank you for explaining that laminated glass is the type of glass that has vinyl inserted between two panes and that it is an effective safety material because it stays in place even when broken. My parents are intending to get the patio glass replaced with a newer, stronger one this month. It was good that I saw this article on glass types and learned about the best option that we can consider.

  40. What thickness ranges is lami glass available in, in the USA? How much does it weigh per square foot, compared to tempered glass?

  41. Bryce,

    Glass is manufactured in many different thicknesses from the float line, anywhere from 2.0 mm to 6.0 mm are common for use in residential windows, with 2.2-2.5 (single strength) to 3.0 – 3.1 (double strength) the most common for residential window construction.

    Laminated glass can be manufactured using two lites of any glass thickness from 2.0 through 6.0 (and thicker) depending on the application. Mixing and matching different glass thicknesses isn’t particularly uncommon either.

    The plastic interlayer thickness used between the two glass lites typically ranges from .38 mm (.015″) to 2.28 mm (.090″), or thicker in multiples of .015″. Thicker is stronger of course. Also there are different types of interlayers available, again depending on application of the finished laminated glass.

    Laminated glass of 6 mm using .030″ interlayer and two lites of either 2.7 mm or 3.0 mm (6.4 mm overall when using 3.0 mm glass), is probably the most common make up of safety glazing using laminated glass for residential applications.

    While a security product will increase the plastic interlayer to .060″, and a “hurricane” impact resistant laminated glass will generally be manufactured using .090″ interlayer.

    Laminated glass can be manufactured in literally hundreds of different thicknesses depending on what you are looking for.

    So to answer your question with a question, what is your application?

  42. Thanks for helping me understand that tempered glass is a safe type of glass since it doesn’t shatter into small pieces if it breaks. With this in mind, I will probably choose this type of glass for the glass enclosure of our tub. My husband has been bugging me about adding an enclosure to our tub because he got inspired by a photo of a bathroom in a magazine.

  43. Millie Hue,

    Tempered glass is considered a safety product because the glass DOES shatter into tiny pieces rather than big, sharp, dangerous daggers. Laminated glass is safety glass because if broken the glass stays bonded to the plastic sheet that is between two separate lites of glass.

    Most shower enclosures use tempered glass, but more often than in the past laminated glass is being used in some shower enclosures because it doesn’t shatter into the tiny pieces.

  44. It got me when you said that the tempered glass is 4 to 5 stronger which makes it more resistant to breakage. I guess I will be picking this type of glass for our cafe which will be opening next month. We have been dreaming of having our own coffee shop ever since we were in college. So my boyfriend and I have saved for this. Now, we are already planning for the appearance of the shop which makes me really excited. This information will give us a strong storefront glass.

  45. Thanks for explaining the differences between laminated and tempered glass. I like the fact that that laminated glass can help keep burglars out since it won’t shatter. I need a window replacement because my dog broke the glass by jumping at it. Replacing it with laminated or at least stronger glass seems like a smart idea.

  46. I just had my picture window replaced. It is tempered glass. Why is it so wavy? When looking out of it on an angle my view is somewhat distorted. Appears very wavy on the exterior.

  47. I like that you pointed out that a tempered glass is a choice for strength and breakage resistance but a laminated glass is more flexible to use. My patio doors are already rusty. I’m planning to have it replaced with glass inserts door. I’ll be sure to have one custom-made so it can fit perfectly.

  48. There is heavy traffic and dust in front of my clinic’s waiting section. Can it be good idea to transform that whole front wall (10ft height × 10 ft length) into glass wall with entry door(7ft×2.5ft) in the middle of it? Which glass would you advise considering noise, dust, heat(35-40 degree Celsius) and UV exposure of outdoor?


    1. Hi Manoj,

      Thanks for the question. We certainly like the idea of replacing almost any wall with a glass wall! It will be best for you to reach out to a local and reputable glass shop in your area to get their opinion for this particular project since they will be able to do an onsite visual inspection.

  49. I have one question please help.
    Is there any regulation or standard or code of practice that dictates the use of laminated glass in high rise buildings. Or where pedestrians are passing by the building and in case of a breakage there would be a risk of glass particles fall on the,??

    1. The glass installed in a building must meet all code requirements for windload, fire codes, hazardous location and so forth. There is no code in the USA that requires a glazed opening have laminated glass. Balcony glass does typically have such a code however.

  50. Thanks for explaining how tempered glass will be 4 to 5 times stronger and is more resistant to breakage. We live near a baseball field, and it is not uncommon to see a few balls crashing down our windows. It certainly looks like we’ll need to replace our windows with more durable tempered glass.

  51. I want to replace an exterior window in a large walk in shower, house built in 1964, has some water damage leakage from the window on the exterior of the house. I would like to replace it with some kind of art glass window but I probably need double-paned glass. it is a clerestory window about 30″ wide x 72″ high. The exterior is stucco, and the interior is tile. I know from your string I will need tempered glass but is there ever a double pane glass which is also tempered? I would like to do an inter-layer for the art part but I don’t want moisture leaking into the glass and also need it in a metal frame to install it. Other option is to repair the leaking part if there is any kind of decal to put on a window that is architecturally acceptable? This is in Yucca Valley, CA restoring a mid century house.

  52. I want to use a safe piece of glass to cover the top of my seven years old son’s reading desk. Any glass would suffice to protect the desk but I am very much concerned about my son’s safety, taking into consideration that his three years old brother is prone to breaking things. I have contacted two different local glass suppliers, one of whom suggested laminated glass and the other tempered glass. Although both can produce both types of glass, they both defended their opinion as the best one as far as safety is concerned. Which one should I go for and for what thickness? Thank you in advance for your help.

    1. The benefit of laminated glass is that if it does break, the polyvinyl interlayer will help keep the glass in place, which helps ensure that sharp shards don’t go flying. On the flip side, tempered glass will break into many many tiny pieces, mostly without sharp edges which reduces the risk of injury. Laminated tempered glass is a 3rd options that combines the best of both worlds. However, you may want to consider alternative options such as polycarbonate which is much tougher and will be much less likely to break and cause injury.

  53. Hi, I made a 21.5mm Tempered Laminated glass for a customer to use for his client’s swimming pool. They broke the glass and the fracture count was 38 small particles in a 50mm X 50mm erea.

    Can I argue that the glass is within the building regulations?

    The engineer wanted 40 small particles in a 50mm X 50mm erea for a Tempered glass. Bearing in mind that this glass it is now a Tempered Laminated piece of glass.

  54. Thank you for sharing the detailed information about tempered and laminated glass. This will help us to choose right glass for our use.

  55. Hello,

    Trust you are well.
    I would like to know which type of glass is more suitable for shelves and thickness.
    These shelves will be used for glass items (vases etc) which can be heavy.

    Each glass will measure 25cm wide by 105cm length when in place.

    Thanks a lot for your help.
    Kindest Regards

  56. A good blog that you shared with us and it is very knowledgeable, is aware of some things we do not know.

    1. The quick answer to your question is “yes”, laminated glass can be used in a sauna. Remember, car windshields are made with laminated glass and are subjected to rain, snow, high temperatures and sub zero ones as well. Make sure the laminated glass is set properly with appropriate setting blocks at the bottom, clearance and edge coverage and then, I would suggest you seal it wish a silicone caulk bead after it is in place. A reputable glass shop should be able to safely and properly install the glass.

  57. Hello. Great and informative article. For a fixed shower enclosure for an elderly person, which would be better – tempered or laminated? I have been advised having the shower enclosure than a shower curtain which could collapse under weight in case of.imbalance etc.

  58. I love what you shared about temper glass being more breakage-resistant. I believe that stained glass windows serve as great conversation pieces. If I were to buy a stained glass window, I would make sure to work with a reliable business in my area.

  59. Thanks for pointing out that one of the benefits of tempered glass is that it is more resistant to breakage. My husband and I are thinking about putting glass shelves in our dining room because we think that they would be good for displaying our pictures and other decorations. I think that tempered glass would be a good option so that we could make sure that it was strong and would last.

  60. Hi – I am designing a semi submerged underwater living unit with windows that could go as deep as 10 metres, then there is tidal current pressure and possibility of wave impact – I calculate that the maximum possible pressure on the window is under 25lbs per sq inch (and so would want to use 40 or 50 lbs per sq inch). I am looking at the minimum ‘nice’ size for an underwater window and thinking 2 metres by one metre high. The structure outer wall is a 15 to 16 diameter circle and so is curved slightly across 2 metres – and while the glass can be flat pane if it is tempered then it can (I guess) be made curved in the process.
    Can you give me a ballpark thickness that I can use in my calculations and drawings, I will get more specific advice when I get to sourcing the glass.

    1. I am going to give you a “ballpark” response but you need to have this verified by a licensed engineer familiar with your codes. The sealant and framing you will use are also critical to the installation’s success. I think you will want to use multiple layers of 1/2” tempered glass with structurally sound laminated inner layers of a PVB or polycarbonate. Don’t attempt to determine this glass type on your own. Find an engineer familiar with this type of application and provide them with whatever information they desire. Good luck with the project.

  61. Thank you for this. In thinking about it I was not sure that layers would be suitable as the glass will be constantly flexing with rise and fall of tides and wave action increasing the depth and so the pressures on it 24/7, especially as replacing the window underwater is clearly not simple. Maybe this is why the glass I have seen in underwater observatories etc., seems to be massively over thick. If this project gets to the stage of getting expert help I will post their answer here for interest. Thanks again.

  62. I want to know what is more suitable for sunshade.I think that laminate is more suitable .Other say that rainwater can flow between glsses(laminated).So please answer me, thank.

    1. Thank you for the question! Without further details of your sunshade project, it is hard to say which is more suitable- laminated or tempered. However, for most glass canopies, tempered laminated glass is the better option. You’ll want to work with a local and reputable contractor who can guide you based on your specific goals.

  63. We are considering enhancing the safety and security of our staff in the reception area. We have public access lobby area where our clients wait until they can be served. There is a reception counter but we are considering putting up a tasteful glass barrier that would prevent someone from jumping over the counter or throwing something at our receptionist. We do not need something that is bullet resistant as robbery is not an issue (no cash on hand). However, we would like a level of glass protection that could resist someone throwing a chair against it. What type of glass and thickness would you suggest? Thanks.

  64. I am building a sauna and want to know if laminated glass has better thermal qualities than tempered. I will only using it for a window but am also worried that with the steam in the sauna laminated might be prone to seepage between the sheets along the edges

    1. Laminated glass can be used in a sauna. Remember, car windshields are made with laminated glass and are subjected to rain, snow, high temperatures and sub zero ones as well. Make sure the laminated glass is set properly with appropriate setting blocks at the bottom, clearance and edge coverage and then, I would suggest you seal it wish a silicone caulk bead after it is in place. A reputable glass shop should be able to safely and properly install the glass.

  65. I am considering purchasing a full view storm door with laminated glass which would face west. The entry door has a three quarter glass insert. Will laminated glass coupled with the glass insert create an increase in heat in that area?

    1. Terrie,
      Thanks for the question. Laminated glass has a decent amount of insulating properties when compared to regular glass. Plus, the polyvinyl interlayer will help to block UV rays. There may be some difference in heat gain/loss in comparison to a solid door without glass, but many consumers feel that the aesthetic tradeoff is worth it.

  66. 58. Ron says:
    January 17, 2019 at 6:19 pm
    Hi, I made a 21.5mm Tempered Laminated glass for a customer to use for his client’s swimming pool. They broke the glass and the fracture count was 38 small particles in a 50mm X 50mm area.
    Can I argue that the glass is within the building regulations?
    The engineer wanted 40 small particles in a 50mm X 50mm erea for a Tempered glass. Bearing in mind that this glass it is now a Tempered Laminated piece of glass.


    Realizing that I am replying to a one year old post, and almost certainly no longer applicable to the original poster, I am still going to comment in case anyone else might ever have a similar issue arise.

    Based strictly on what Ron originally posted, it appears that the engineer that he was working with wasn’t entirely familiar with the characteristics and the application requirements of tempered glass vs laminated glass vs a tempered-laminated glass combination when meeting safety glazing requirements, but meeting the requirements in different ways.

    As mentioned previously in this thread, as well as in the original article, tempered glass is both stronger and has a different break pattern than annealed (ordinary) glass. Per safety glazing standards, it’s the break pattern and NOT the strength or break resistance of tempered glass that defines it as a safety product.

    Several different protocols (ANSI, CPSC, EN, ISO, etc) are used around the world to define the maximum size or weight of the small cubes that result when tempered glass shatters. Whether or not the 40 cubes (engineer) vs 38 cubes (Ron) following breakage meets safety requirements could be important IF the tempered glass was being used in an application as a monolithic lite, but in Ron’s situation the tempered glass is being used as part of a laminated glass sandwich and that’s where the engineer apparently misunderstands safety glass requirements.

    Tempered glass is classified as safety glass because of how it breaks, but once it’s used as part of a laminated glass sandwich the break pattern requirement no longer applies. Once tempered glass is laminated it’s the laminated glass standard that matters. Doesn’t matter if it breaks into 38 or 40 cubes when the tempered lite is broken, it’s irrelevant in the situation as Ron describes it.

    As pointed out on the original article, laminated glass meets the requirements of safety glazing using annealed, heat strengthened, toughened, or tempered glass – it makes no difference per safety standards. Using tempered glass in a laminated sandwich will enhance the structural strength and break resistance of the laminated glass versus other glass option, but not safety.

  67. My tempered glass broke in my outside spotlight.. it is only a piece 6 1/2 inches by 9 inches….I cant find anywhere to replace it…can I use regular glass from a hardware in this fixture? Where I purchased the light 10 years ago said just replace light which would be at least $200 plus an electrician… not a good option for a small piece of glass..thanks

  68. Hello,
    I live in Chicago and I will be moving in 3 months into a condo with a 1000 sq foot private patio. I would like to know if permits are required to install a retractable roof.

    1. Hi Mauricio,
      You’ll want to check with your local county/city to find out what is required. You can work with a contractor that can help with this process.

  69. My building (a retail wholesale business) was damaged during the recent looting. All windows need to be replaced. Should I replace the broken windows with tempered or laminated glass? Which is easier to replace, if someone hits it with a baseball bat, say?

  70. I live in Edmonton and want to have a solarium attached on my balcony. The maximum temperature in summer season is around 30+ C (raining) and the minimum temperature in winter season is around-35+ C (snowing).

    What glass is the best for solarium in my situation? Can I use tempered glass or luminaries glass for my solarium? What is the best thickness of the material using in solarium? What is the price difference in the above materials?


    1. Hi Terry,
      Thanks for the question! We’ve actually received this question a few times and have written a blog in response. You can find it here. You’ll want to work with a local contractor and ensure you’re conforming with local building codes.

  71. I am replacing “atrium type” dual pane curved glass in an old sunroom. The new sunroom will have 52” x 72” straight glass roof and bifold doors. The old “atrium” sunroom was noticeably warmer than the rest of the house – this warmth (passive solar heating??) was a nice feature in our cool coastal area.

    Which would you recommend for the roof?

    1. Laminated safety glass
    – what thickness?
    – will “clear” be noticeably greenish?

    2. Tempered over laminated glass with air gap

    3. Tempered Low E (Solar Ban 70) over
    clear laminated glass

    PS The new bifold doors are dual pane and can be ordered with or without low E.

  72. Debbie, your question regarding the choice between laminated and tempered safety glass is an important one, especially when it comes to replacing glass in your front door. Both options are indeed considered safety glazing materials, but they have distinct advantages.

    Tempered glass is incredibly strong and resistant to breakage. If it does break, it shatters into small, less harmful pieces. On the other hand, laminated glass consists of layers with a vinyl interlayer that holds it together upon impact, making it ideal for security and sound reduction. It also blocks UV light and can be cut to size easily.

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