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Annealed vs. Tempered Glass: What Is the Difference?

Updated: 05/31/2024

Annealed vs. Tempered Glass: What Is the Difference?

Glass is a versatile material that can be tailored to specific needs through various manufacturing processes. Exploring the differences between annealed and tempered glass can help you better understand their individual traits and practical uses.

Whether considering their fracture behavior or durability, these differences are crucial for applications from home windows and car windshields to electronic devices and architectural projects. Our team at Apex Tempered Glass explains these distinctions to help you make informed choices.

Below, you’ll find information about annealed and tempered glass – how these types are manufactured, where they’re applied, what merits and shortcomings they have, and when you should choose which.

What Is Annealed Glass?

Annealed glass is a type of glass that’s slowly cooled to relieve internal stresses. This process increases its durability and reduces the risk of spontaneous breakage. Annealed glass is relatively soft and prone to shattering into large, sharp pieces when broken.

What Are the Applications of Annealed Glass?

What Are the Applications of Annealed Glass?

Annealed glass is usually employed when safety isn’t a primary concern:

  • Picture frames: Annealed glass is commonly used to cover and protect photographs and artwork in picture frames.
  • Tabletops: It can be found as the surface material for table tops, providing a smooth and transparent surface.
  • Basic window panes: Annealed glass is used in windows where safety concerns are minimal, such as in residential settings.
  • Decorative glass: Its clarity and ease of shaping make it suitable for decorative applications like glass ornaments and decorative panels.
  • Display cases: Annealed glass is often used in retail display cases to showcase products while providing visibility and protection.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Annealed Glass?

While versatile and affordable, annealed glass has limitations concerning durability and safety compared to tempered glass:

Pros Cons
Affordability: Relatively inexpensive. Proneness to breakage: More susceptible than tempered glass, posing safety risks.
Easiness to fabricate: Can be cut, drilled, and shaped with ease. Shattering into sharp shards: Fractures into large, sharp pieces, potentially causing injury.
Transparency: Offers excellent clarity for optimal visibility. Limited safety applications: Unsuitable for high-impact environments due to lower strength.
Versatility: Adaptable for various applications. Lower durability: Less resistant to thermal stress and mechanical forces.
Common availability: Readily accessible for projects. Potential for spontaneous breakage: Internal stresses may lead to unexpected breakage.

What Is Tempered Glass?

Tempered, or toughened, glass is a type of glass that undergoes a specialized heating and rapid cooling process, creating internal stresses that enhance its strength and durability. This makes it resistant to breakage and shattering, and when it does break, it fractures into small, granular pieces rather than sharp shards. This reduces the risk of injury.

What Are the Applications of Tempered Glass?

What Are the Applications of Tempered Glass?

Tempered glass finds diverse applications across industries for its strength and safety features:

  • Automotive industry: It’s extensively used in car windows, windshields, and sunroofs for its strength and safety. It shatters into blunt pieces upon impact to minimize the risk of injury.
  • Architecture: Tempered glass is employed in building facades, doors, windows, and glass railings, offering durability and safety in high-traffic areas and reducing injury risks from glass fragments.
  • Home appliances: It’s found in oven doors, refrigerator shelves, and cooktops, ensuring safety by withstanding thermal stress and mechanical shocks.
  • Shower enclosures: Tempered glass is commonly utilized in shower enclosures due to its robustness and safety features, providing durability and reducing the risk of injury in case of breakage.
  • Furniture: Tempered glass enhances both residential and commercial spaces in tables, shelves, cabinet doors, and display cases, combining elegance with structural integrity.
  • Electronics: Used as screen protectors for smartphones, tablets, and other devices, providing scratch resistance and impact protection.
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What Are the Pros and Cons of Tempered Glass?

Tempered glass offers numerous advantages over annealed glass, although there are a few considerations:

Pros Cons
High strength: Significantly stronger than annealed glass, making it more resistant to impacts and breakage.  Cost: More expensive due to specialized manufacturing.
Safety: Breaks into blunt pieces, reducing injury risks compared to sharp shards from annealed glass. Limited alteration: Cannot be cut or drilled without shattering, limiting post-production modifications. 
Thermal resistance: Withstands higher temperatures without shattering. Design constraints: May be slightly distorted by the tempering process and therefore incompatible with certain designs.
Durability: Resistant to scratches and other damage. Repair difficulty: Cannot be repaired if damaged.

Comparing Annealed and Tempered Glass: An Overview

Feature Annealed Glass Tempered Glass
Strength Relatively weaker, prone to breakage 4-5 times stronger than annealed glass
Safety Breaks into large, sharp shards when shattered Breaks into small, relatively harmless pieces
Manufacturing process Cooled slowly to relieve internal stresses Heated and rapidly cooled to increase strength
Durability Less durable, more susceptible to scratches Highly durable, resistant to scratches and impacts
Safety standards Meets basic safety requirements Complies with safety standards, often used in safety-critical applications
Cost Generally cheaper (typically from $3 to $10 per square foot) Slightly more expensive due to additional manufacturing process (typically from $10 to $25 per square foot)
Applications Commonly used in non-safety-critical applications Preferred choice for safety-critical applications such as car windows, shower doors, and glass doors


Conclusion: Which to Choose?

The choice between annealed and tempered glass depends on the specific requirements of the project. Factors such as technical conditions, budget, and aesthetics will help you determine the most appropriate type of glass for each application. But if you’re not sure where to start, our team at Apex Tempered Glass is here to help!

We’re a trusted Chicago tempered glass manufacturer. We master the full cycle of glass craftsmanship and can create any type of glass that you need – tempered, laminated, frosted, patterned, or custom cut. Moreover, we can customize glass thickness, edges, and finishes to transform it to your exact needs. Contact us to get a free quote.

Nina Tsoy

Finance And Operations

Nina leads Apex Tempered Glass, a company specializing in manufacturing all types of glass. Known for her strategic expertise and exceptional operational performance, Nina is committed to providing innovative solutions for any glass-related issue.


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