Safety glass is required by building regulations where a window or any part of the glass is within 800mm of the floor. However, it can also be used in other areas where safety is a concern, whether that be from the inside for protecting children, or from the outside to help prevent intruders. There are two main types of safety glass available – laminated glass and toughened glass (also known as tempered glass). While they are both categorised as safety glass, they are not the same. They often get mistaken for one another and are commonly thought of as being the same product, but they are not.
What is the difference between laminated glass and toughened glass?
Laminated glass is held together with interlayers. It will not shatter, even when it is broken. It is for this reason that it is typically used in public buildings and areas where there is a lot of foot traffic, as it is significantly safer for those in the vicinity if the glass were to be damaged.
Toughened glass undergoes a heat treatment process to give it a higher breaking strength. It is much stronger than normal glass and is a popular choice in homes with young children or in high crime areas. Despite being extraordinarily strong, toughened glass can break if it undergoes extreme stress, but, if the glass is broken, it will break into chunks rather than splintering and becoming a safety hazard.
Toughened glass is around five times stronger than laminated glass of the same size and thickness. It gets this strength from the tempering process which sees it subjected to intense heating followed by rapid cooling during manufacture.
This toughness gives tempered glass a far higher load and breakage resistance, meaning it will need to be hit a lot harder than other safety glass for it to break. Unlike laminated glass which holds in place when shattered, toughened glass breaks up into lots of chunks – you may have seen this on the floor next to a vandalised bus stop? This way of breaking lowers the risk of injury compared with normal glass that breaks up into larger, jagged pieces that is more hazardous and likely to injure someone nearby.
Toughened glass also boasts good resistance to heat – four or five times stronger than standard glass and can cope with very high temperatures.
When it comes to choosing which type of safety glass is right for your project, it will be dependent on how and where the glass is being used and is usually down to personal preference. With regards to security, toughened glass is stronger and requires a far greater force to break it. However, when it does, the area where the glass was, is left exposed. Laminated glass stays in place when shattered but is not as hardened to breakage. Others will argue that toughened glass is still the safer option as there is less likelihood of it breaking in the first place.
At Parsons Joinery, we offer glass upgrades for doors and windows we manufacture and install, helping you find the right glazing for your environment. One of the key benefits of collaborating with our expert team of joiners is that we make everything from scratch at our workshop in Ringmer, East Sussex and can incorporate the glazing of your choosing during the manufacturing process.