When it comes to choosing a type of glass for your home, safety and durability will likely be two of the most important factors to consider.
Tempered and laminated glass are both popular choices for meeting these requirements but they have different properties that make them suitable for different aspects of your home – as we’ll see in this guide.
While both tempered and laminated glass provide enhanced safety and durability compared to standard glass, each has its own set of advantages and drawbacks in terms of cost, strength, and additional features like soundproofing or UV protection.
It is essential to become acquainted with these glass types so that, based on your specific needs, you’ll be able to make the right choice between these two fabulous safety glass options.
What is tempered glass?
Tempered glass, also known as toughened glass, is a type of safety glass that has undergone a special heat treatment process to increase its strength and resistance to breakage.
You’ll be assured to know that when it does break, it shatters into small, relatively harmless fragments, reducing the risk of injury to you and your loved-ones.
The tempering process of this glass type involves heating the glass to a high temperature before rapidly cooling it.
This process ultimately leads to a glass that is up to five times stronger than regular annealed glass.
One of the key benefits of tempered glass is its unique breakage pattern.
Naturally, accidents happen. However, when something untoward occurs to tempered glass, it shatters into small, relatively harmless, pieces instead of creating dangerous shards, as you would experience with ordinary glass.
This feature makes it a popular choice for various applications where safety is a top priority, such as in shower doors, sliding doors and table tops.
Tempered glass also offers a higher level of resistance to thermal stress and has the ability to withstand significant temperature fluctuations.
This makes tempered glass particularly suitable for use in environments that experience extreme temperature changes. Think about oven doors and outdoor furniture and the temperature changes they experience.
However, as marvellous as this tempering process is, it’s important to remember that, after the glass has been tempered, it cannot be altered (being cut or drilled for instance) without shattering.
Alterations, such as hole drilling or edge polishing, has to be carried out before the tempering process begins.
What is laminated glass?
Laminated glass is a type of safety glass that features two or more layers of glass bonded together with a plastic interlayer, usually polyvinyl butyral (PVB) or ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA).
When subjected to impact, laminated glass may crack but the plastic interlayer prevents the glass from shattering and falling apart. This characteristic makes it a popular choice of homeowners where safety and security are paramount, such as skylights and glass facades.
Because of the clever structure of laminated glass, you’ll be protected against injuries, in the event of accidental breakage and against the unlikely event of intruders to your home.
The unique construction process makes the laminated glass stronger and more durable, providing increased impact resistance and improved sound insulation.
Is it true that laminated glass can protect me from UV rays?
Yes. Good laminated glass reduces the amount of rays from the sun by up to 99% whilst still allowing natural light to pass through. This feature helps protect furnishings, flooring and artwork from fading due to prolonged exposure to sunlight, not to mention creating a better environment for you and your family.
From an aesthetic perspective, laminated glass can be customised with various interlayer colours, patterns and textures, offering a wide range of design possibilities. You can be the master of design in your own home.
Let’s not forget that laminated glass can be combined with other glass types, such as tempered or low-emissivity (Low-E) glass, to enhance its performance and energy efficiency even further. Homeowners all over the UK are currently looking for smart solutions when it comes to energy bill reduction.
In terms of cost, laminated glass is typically more expensive than tempered glass due to the additional materials and production processes involved. Nonetheless, its exceptional safety features, acoustic performance, and versatile design options make it a valuable investment for those who care about their home.
Pros and cons of tempered glass
Let’s highlight some of the pros and cons of tempered glass.
- High tensile strength: Tempered glass can support high stress around holes and notches, making it suitable for various applications, including doors, windows, and glass railings.
- Increased safety: Since it shatters into small, relatively harmless pieces, it significantly reduces the risk of injury when broken, making it an ideal choice for areas where safety is paramount.
- Heat resistance: Tempered glass can withstand higher temperatures than regular glass, making it suitable for use in areas exposed to heat or temperature fluctuations.
- Easier to install: Because of its increased strength, tempered glass is easier to handle and install, reducing the risk of breakage during installation.
- Cannot be altered: Once it has been tempered, the glass cannot be cut, drilled, or altered without breaking, which means any alterations must be made before the tempering process.
- Higher cost: Tempered glass is generally more expensive than regular or laminated glass due to the additional processing involved in its creation.
- Potential for spontaneous breakage: While rare, tempered glass can occasionally break spontaneously due to manufacturing defects or inclusions in the glass, which may lead to unpredictable breakages.
- Less flexibility: Because of its increased strength, tempered glass can be less flexible and less capable of withstanding certain pressures or impacts compared to laminated glass.
Pros and cons of laminated glass
This design offers several advantages and disadvantages.
- Highly durable: Laminated glass offers increased durability compared to regular glass because the plastic interlayer can hold the glass layers together even when broken.
- Safety features: In case of breakage, the glass fragments stick to the plastic layer instead of scattering, reducing the risk of injury.
- Sound reduction: The interlayer in laminated glass acts as a barrier to sound transmission, offering improved noise reduction.
- UV protection: Laminated glass can block up to 99% of harmful UV rays, helping to protect your family and protect your furniture and fabrics from fading.
Cons of laminated glass
- Higher costs: Generally, laminated glass is more expensive than tempered glass due to its additional layers and manufacturing process.
- Heavier weight: The extra layers in laminated glass make it heavier than tempered glass, which may limit its use in certain designs.
- Reduced light Transmission: The interlayer in laminated glass can reduce the amount of light that passes through the glass, making it slightly less transparent in some cases.
Choosing the right glass for your needs
When deciding between tempered and laminated glass, consider the specific requirements of your project. Both types of glass offer unique benefits, but their suitability varies depending on what aspect of the home you are thinking of having glazed and the specific setting.
Generally, if you are wanting glass for internal doors including shower screens, tempered glass will certainly meet your needs adequately and be more economical.
Because of its impressive ability to withstand impact, tempered glass will also be the best choice for glass tables and (particularly popular today) glass bannisters.
On the other hand, laminated glass provides superior security and sound insulation. It’s ideal for household windows, doors and skylights where you’ll want to protect those in your home from significant harm.
If you’re concerned about break-ins to your home, you’ll also find reassurance from the impressive properties of strength, promised by laminated glass.
To sum up…
Both tempered glass and laminated glass are types of safety glass, providing various benefits for different settings.
Choosing between tempered and laminated glass ultimately depends on your project requirements and desired outcomes.
For higher impact resistance and lower risk of injury, tempered glass is certainly a suitable choice but if you’re seeking improved security, sound dampening along with UV protection, laminated glass may just be your better option.
Consult with your professional window installer to discuss which glass option they feel would be appropriate and preferable for your home environment. They will also direct you through the industry’s standards and guidelines to ensure your choices are adhering to rules and regulations.
Whatever you conclude between the two, laminated or tempered safety glass has to be first on your list, in order to make your home ‘last’.