You have heard it all around: tempered glass is so much better for your shower, glass railing or tabletop. But what is exactly tempered glass, AKA safety glass or toughened glass? After you learn more about tempered glass, you will understand why you are better off with it for your glass structures at home.
The quantity of tempered glass uses is impressive. You always have lived with tempered glass, sometimes without even noticing, when taking a shower, working on your glass-covered desk, or going upstairs holding your handrail. It is everywhere, and that is because it is much safer and tougher than standard glass.
Tempered glass is really worth the extra buck. Here is why.
DEFINITION OF TEMPERED GLASS
First, a little glass knowledge. What is the difference between tempered glass and annealed glass, or standard glass?
A tempered glass panel is different from an ordinary glass sheet in the way it is made.
The tempering process involves heating glass, then cooling it very quickly. The heating expels all air particles from the material. The glass first travels through an industrial oven in which the temperature reaches over 1,100°F (approximately 600°C).
Afterwards, in a matter of seconds, glass is rapidly cooled by high-pressure blasts. The procedure cools the outer surface of the glass, much faster than it does for the inner layer, resulting in a physical reaction where the center of the glass tries to pull back from the surface. This applies compression on the outer surface.
This method modifies glass conformation; in other words, the glass structure changes – for the best. Here is why.
TEMPERED GLASS IS SAFER
If you ever find a way to break tempered glass (good luck with that, this is very hard to achieve – we’ll talk about it later), such glass breaks in a different way than standard glass.
Regular glass will break into random, uneven, and dangerous shards. Think of when you break a glass of wine, for example. On the other hand, tempered glass shatters into hundreds of tiny pieces, soft to the touch, thus harmless. Also, tempered glass surprisingly does not spread all over and breaks into harmless pebbles into one smaller area.
The edges of broken tempered glass are not dangerous for you and therefore is a safer option when you purchase a new shower door, a pool fence, or a glass table cover. This is why tempered glass is also called safety glass.
See the Difference Between Annealed and Tempered Glass
TEMPERED GLASS IS TOUGHER
Another nickname exists for tempered glass: Toughened glass. This nickname is especially fitting when you learn about how shock resistant tempered glass is.
Tempered glass looks almost the same as standard glass, but it is so much different – and better. Obviously, heat will not damage your heat-treated glass; you know that already. But have you ever tried to scratch a glass shower door? Like we said earlier, good luck with that. Compared with annealed glass, scratching tempered glass is very hard. In fact, thanks to the tempering process and improvement in its structure, tempered glass is 5 to 10 times tougher than standard glass.
TEMPERED GLASS IS HEAT RESISTANT
Tempered glass is not only safe, it is also heat resistant since it has been through so much heat at the manufacturing stage. It is no surprise that shower glass panels and insulated glass windows are all constituted of such glass since these objects are constantly subject to high temperature spikes.
Tempered glass can withstand heat up to 470°F (or 243°C for you Canadians out there). Hence, the perfect applications for tempered glass are shower doors and panels, windows, and exterior glass railings – all applications where high temperature or frequent temperature variations are involved.
You can use tempered glass for oven or fireplace door replacement, but ceramic glass would be the preferred glass type in such a situation. Avoid using tempered glass for woodstoves, since wood combustion happens anywhere between 572°F and 1,112°F (300°C and 600°C).
If your tempered glass is exposed to temperatures closer to, or over 500°F (260°C), your piece would weaken significantly over time and become subject to breakage.
TEMPERED GLASS GETS YOU THE BEST BANG FOR YOUR BUCK
Despite all these appealing features, tempered glass is not the priciest of options. Tempered glass comes cheaper for your wallet than laminated glass, a more expensive type of glass that does not comprise the same safety features.
Talk to any insurance agent and they will tell you tempered glass will be more than welcome when dealing health, life, disability, homeowner, or renter insurance. You will be glad to save on lifelong premiums rather than on a one-time purchase.
Tempered glass is resistant to heat, to shocks and to scratches. These reasons are all worth the extra cost. It is a no-brainer: You are better off paying a bit more for tempered glass and keeping your glass exterior table for decades than buying a whole new one because your kids broke your previous one. Price would be a lot heftier, right?
Strength, heat resistance and especially safety need to be taken into consideration when making an important purchase such as glass for your home. You should not pass on these three aspects when dealing with your daily environment. Living with the risk of harming your family and peers would be unacceptable and well worth the small extra investment.
If you really are on a budget, there is one place where you can save instead of passing on tempered glass: The edges. For a pure and neat-looking glass piece, you will want flat-polished edges, but some applications such as counter replacement do not require perfect edges. You can order tempered glass with seamed edges for applications where glass edges are hidden. And even with seamed edges, tempered glass will look a lot smoother and will be softer to the touch.
Clear vs Ultra-Clear Glass
That is not the main feature of tempered glass, but if you give it a very close look, tempered glass is a bit clearer than regular glass, so if you treat yourself with tempered, ultra-clear glass for your shower door, for example, you will achieve a complete and incredibly satisfying 100% transparent look for your bathroom. That is just another advantage of picking tempered glass despite the slightly higher price.
TEMPERED GLASS IS COMPLIANT WITH USA AND CANADA STANDARDS
Knowing all this information about glass and safety, it becomes obvious why American and Canadian certification require tempered glass in doorway and stairway areas, for large windows and insulated glass mounted close to the floor, and for your swimming pool fence.
Glassupply tempered glass products comply with North American building codes (USA and Canada), meeting the ANSI Z97.1-04, ASTM C1048 and CAN/CGSB-12.1-M90 standards.
For your information, construction companies heavily rely on tempered glass in high load applications. Frameless glass doors, for example, need to be made of tempered glass.
DID YOU KNOW?
Glassandmirror agents are available for assistance when shopping for your tempered glass.
THE SCIENCE BEHIND TEMPERED GLASS
If you are more of the scientific, fact-over-myth, well, here is the full explanation why tempered glass is sturdier and more resistant to significant heat than annealed glass.
Heating glass during the tempering process induces higher contraction rates than normal in the inner layer of the glass. When compression reaches 10,000 psi (or 69 megapascals) on the glass surface during manufacture, it is considered that the glass is tempered. For shower, railing, and tabletop glass, Glassupply uses glass that is submitted to 15,000 psi (100 megapascals) compressive stress at the manufacturing stage, a pressure level that certifies the use of the term safety glass for our tempered glass.
The glass tempering method was developed by Frenchman François Royer de la Bastie in the 1870s. Thanks to this Paris-born noble engineer, driven only by curiosity towards patenting his process, we today can rely on tempered glass for so many purposes in our everyday life. Over time, the tempered glass method was improved in Germany, then eventually refined, perfected, and finalized as the tempering process we know in the 1930s in the United States. This goes to show tempered glass has been around and useful for a long time in households everywhere.
Even more awesome: Glassupply can get you customized tempered glass. Here is how you can get unique pieces of glass for a wide variety of applications in your home.
CUSTOM TEMPERED GLASS APPLICATIONS
We have already talked about it, but let’s get in the detail of preferred tempered glass custom applications such as glass railings, tables, and showers.
One particularity of tempered glass is that it as to be cut to the right dimensions beforehand for your given application. All glass hole drilling and edge polishing must also be performed before tempering. To the contrary of annealed glass, in which tension is unequally distributed, tempered glass’ inner structure is perfectly balanced and cannot be altered afterwards.
You are better off ordering your custom glass online from Glassupply, thus saving the hassle of finding glass cut to your specifications in physical locations, where material dimensions do not comply with your request.
You will need tempered glass in situations where using normal glass represents a certain level of potential danger, such as your shower, your living room or in exterior spaces such as your deck, balcony, or swimming pool. You do not want to find yourself with large, dangerous shards of glass scattered across your floor or yard.
The safety feature of tempered glass makes it so convenient for your home, where so many environments, furniture items and appliances benefit for its use.
Here is an exhaustive list of frameless tempered glass applications: