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Laminated Glass vs. Tempered Glass

Updated
Updated: 05/31/2024
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Laminated glass and tempered glass are two popular choices for different applications, each offering unique features and benefits. Laminated glass consists of layers bonded together for enhanced safety, while tempered glass is strengthened through rapid heating and cooling.

Choosing between laminated or tempered glass is important for ensuring safety, security, and functionality in specific applications. Understanding their differences is key to making informed decisions for your projects. Our team at Apex Tempered Glass is here to help you make this important choice.

What Is Tempered Glass?

Tempered glass, also known as toughened glass, is a type of safety glass that undergoes a specialized heat treatment process to increase its strength and resistance to breakage. It’s made from annealed glass that’s heated to high temperatures and then rapidly cooled, creating internal stresses that give it its characteristic strength.

What Is Laminated Glass?

Laminated glass is a type of safety glass composed of two or more layers of tempered or regular glass bonded together with a durable interlayer, typically made of polyvinyl butyral (PVB). This interlayer acts as a barrier, holding the glass together upon impact, thus reducing the risk of injury from shattered glass.

Laminated Glass vs. Tempered Glass: An Overview

Aspect Tempered Glass Laminated Glass
Manufacturing Tempered glass: Rapid heating & cooling Laminated glass: Sandwiching layers with a PVB interlayer under heat and pressure
Strength Exceptional strength, up to 5x regular glass Considerable strength; barrier against impact & penetration
Safety Features Shatters into harmless pieces Cracks but remains intact due to interlayer; maintains structural integrity
Repairability Irreparable; must be replaced Repairable for minor damages; potential cost savings
Sound-Proofing Minimal sound insulation; suitable for double glazing Superior sound-dampening properties; absorbs & dissipates sound waves
UV-Resistance Limited UV protection; blocks UVB radiation Excellent UV protection; blocks both UVA & UVB radiation
Cost $12-$50 per sq. ft.; Example: $1200 for 4 windows Additional costs for upgrades; ranges from $125-$175 per window
Summary Tempered glass excels in strength & impact resistance Laminated glass prioritizes safety, repairability, & sound-proofing; offers superior UV protection. While tempered glass is cost-effective, laminated glass provides added benefits at a higher price.

Manufacturing Process

Tempered glass undergoes a process of rapid heating and cooling to increase its strength, while laminated glass involves sandwiching layers of glass with a polyvinyl butyral (PVB) interlayer under heat and pressure. The tempering process strengthens tempered glass significantly, making it up to five times stronger than ordinary glass. In contrast, laminated glass gains strength from the bonding between layers and the PVB interlayer, which holds the glass together upon impact.

Summary: Tempered glass is heated and cooled rapidly, while laminated glass bonds layers with an interlayer.

Strength

Tempered glass is known for its exceptional strength and resistance to breakage. This means it’s suitable for applications where safety is paramount. It’s up to five times stronger than regular glass of the same thickness. Laminated glass also offers considerable strength due to its layered construction and interlayer, providing a barrier against impact and penetration. While both types of glass are strong, tempered glass tends to be preferred for applications requiring higher impact resistance.

Summary: Tempered glass excels in impact resistance, while laminated glass offers notable strength.

Safety Features

Safety Features

Tempered glass breaks into small, relatively harmless pieces upon impact and reduces the risk of injury. This breakage pattern is due to the internal stress within the glass, causing it to fragment into small, blunt pieces. In contrast, laminated glass typically cracks upon impact but remains largely intact. This is due to the interlayer holding the glass fragments together. This characteristic makes laminated glass suitable for applications where maintaining structural integrity is essential, such as in automotive windshields and building facades.

Summary: Tempered glass shatters harmlessly, while laminated glass maintains structural integrity upon impact.

Repairability

Repairability

Once damaged, tempered glass cannot be repaired, requiring complete replacement. The tempering process imparts high internal stresses to the glass, making it prone to shattering upon any attempts at repair. On the other hand, while laminated glass can sustain damage, it may be repairable depending on the severity and location of the damage. Small cracks or chips can often be repaired without the need for full replacement, offering potential cost savings and extending the lifespan of the glass.

Summary: Tempered glass is irreparable; laminated glass allows for minor repairs.

Sound-Proofing

Tempered glass offers minimal sound insulation due to its solid structure and inability to dampen vibrations effectively. However, its use in double or triple glazing configurations can enhance sound insulation to some extent. Laminated glass, with its viscoelastic interlayer, offers superior sound-dampening properties by absorbing and dissipating sound waves. This makes it ideal for applications where noise reduction is essential, such as sound barriers, recording studios, and urban buildings located near high-traffic areas.

Summary: Laminated glass offers superior sound insulation.

UV-Resistance

Tempered glass offers limited UV protection, primarily blocking UVB radiation while allowing UVA radiation to pass through. This can lead to fading of interior furnishings and potential health risks from prolonged UV exposure. Laminated glass, with its PVB interlayer, provides excellent UV protection by blocking both UVA and UVB radiation, ultimately reducing the risk of fading and offering enhanced protection for occupants and interior spaces. This makes laminated glass a preferred choice for applications requiring UV filtration, such as skylights, windows, and glass roofs in residential and commercial buildings.

Summary: Laminated glass provides excellent UV protection.

Cost

Cost

Tempered glass is generally more cost-effective than laminated glass as the result of simpler manufacturing processes and fewer materials required.

Tempered Glass:

  • Cost: $12 to $50 per square foot (varies based on window size and density)
    • Example: Four windows with $15 panes each = approximately $1200 total
  • Specific Window Comparison (single-hung vinyl, standard size 36×72):
    • Tempered: About $325 per window
    • Laminated: Approximately $497 per window

Laminated Glass:

  • Additional Costs: Manufacturers offer upgrades to standard windows, typically priced between $125 to $175 per window for laminated glass.
  • Reasons for Higher Cost: More expensive due to materials and complexity of the manufacturing process.

Summary: Tempered glass is cost-effective; laminated glass offers added benefits at a higher price.

Applications

Common Applications for Laminated Glass

Here are some common applications for laminated glass:

  1. Automotive Windshields: Laminated glass is often used for windshields in vehicles to improve safety by preventing shattering upon impact.
  2. Hurricane-Resistant Windows: In regions prone to hurricanes and strong winds, laminated glass provides protection against breakage and penetration from flying debris.
  3. Skylights: Laminated glass is used in skylights to ensure safety by preventing shattering and maintaining structural integrity.
  4. Storefronts: Commercial storefronts often use laminated glass to enhance security and prevent forced entry attempts.
  5. Glass Railings: Laminated glass is commonly used for glass railings in both residential and commercial settings for its safety and durability.
  6. Soundproofing Solutions: Laminated glass offers superior sound insulation properties, making it ideal for applications where noise reduction is essential, such as recording studios or urban buildings.
  7. Safety Glass Doors: Laminated glass doors are used in various settings, including commercial buildings, schools, and public spaces, to provide added protection and minimize injury risk.
  8. UV-Resistant Windows: Laminated glass with UV-blocking interlayers is used in windows to protect interiors from harmful UV radiation, reducing fading of furnishings and minimizing health risks.
  9. Art Installations: Laminated glass is often utilized in art installations and museum displays due to its safety features and ability to preserve the artwork.
  10. Security Glazing: Laminated glass is used in security glazing applications, such as banks and government buildings, to provide protection against forced entry, ballistic threats, and explosions.

Common Applications for Tempered Glass

Common Applications for Tempered Glass

Here are some common applications for tempered glass:

  1. Shower Enclosures: Tempered glass is widely used in shower enclosures due to its strength and safety features to reduce the risk of injury from breakage.
  2. Glass Tabletops: Tempered glass table tops are popular for their durability and resistance to breakage, making them suitable for both residential and commercial use.
  3. Glass Doors: Tempered glass doors are commonly used in commercial buildings, offices, and residential settings for their safety and security features.
  4. Windows: Tempered glass windows are used in various applications, including residential homes, commercial buildings, and automobiles, where safety and durability are essential.
  5. Glass Partitions: Tempered glass partitions are often used in offices, restaurants, and other commercial spaces to create separate areas while allowing light to pass through.
  6. Glass Railings: Tempered glass railings provide safety and visibility in staircases, balconies, and decks, making them a popular choice in both residential and commercial settings.
  7. Glass Facades: Tempered glass is used in building facades to create a sleek and modern aesthetic while providing strength and durability against wind and weather.
  8. Ovens and Kitchen Appliances: Tempered glass is used in the doors of ovens and kitchen appliances for its heat-resistant properties and ability to withstand thermal shock.
  9. Glass Shelving: Tempered glass shelves are commonly used in retail stores, bathrooms, and kitchens for their strength and safety features.
  10. Glass Display Cases: Tempered glass display cases are used in museums, retail stores, and exhibitions to showcase products and artifacts while providing security and protection against breakage.

Laminated Glass vs. Tempered Glass: Which to Choose

When deciding between laminated glass and tempered glass, consider your specific needs and priorities.

Laminated Glass:

  • Safety: Provides enhanced safety due to its ability to hold together upon impact, making it suitable for applications where preventing injury is crucial.
  • Security: Offers excellent protection against forced entry and burglary, making it ideal for storefronts, commercial buildings, and areas requiring heightened security.
  • Soundproofing: Provides superior sound insulation, making it suitable for environments where noise reduction is essential, such as urban buildings and recording studios.
  • UV Protection: Offers excellent UV protection, reducing fading of interior furnishings and minimizing health risks from prolonged UV exposure.
  • Cost: Generally more expensive than tempered glass due to its manufacturing process and added benefits.

Tempered Glass:

  • Strength: Known for its exceptional strength and resistance to breakage, making it suitable for applications requiring high impact resistance.
  • Safety: Shatters into small, harmless pieces upon breakage, reducing the risk of injury, which is ideal for shower enclosures, glass doors, and windows.
  • Versatility: Widely used in various applications such as shower enclosures, glass tabletops, doors, windows, and glass partitions.
  • Cost: Generally more cost-effective than laminated glass due to simpler manufacturing processes and lower material requirements.

Ultimately, the choice between laminated glass and tempered glass depends on factors such as safety requirements, security needs, soundproofing considerations, UV protection, and budget constraints. It’s important to evaluate your specific application needs to make the best decision for you.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, the choice between laminated glass and tempered glass depends on factors like safety, security, and budget. Laminated glass offers enhanced safety and soundproofing but comes at a higher cost, while tempered glass provides exceptional strength and versatility at a more affordable price.

For custom glass solutions and manufacturing expertise, contact us at Apex Tempered Glass in Chicago. We manufacture and install custom glass products made of tempered and laminated glass, always prioritizing safety and a positive customer experience. As a trusted tempered glass manufacturer in the area, we’re here to meet your needs both efficiently and effectively.

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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