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What's the Difference Between Laminated Glass and Tempered Glass?

Are you shopping for security glass for your home and have questions? We have answers. Learn all about tempered glass and laminated glass, including how they are made, their benefits, how much they cost, and where to install them in your home.

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What Is the Difference Between Laminated Glass and Tempered Glass?

Sunset reflected in a home's glass windows

Laminated and tempered are two examples of safety glass, a type of glass that receives treatment during manufacturing and assembly to resist cracking and shattering. More importantly, it reduces the chance of injury if the glass breaks. 

Knowing the similarities and differences between laminated glass and tempered glass is important so you choose the best one for your purposes. There is also a considerable price difference between them, which will be covered below, so knowing how they are made and commonly used will help you make the most of your budget. 

How Safety Glass Is Made

While most glass for residential applications is made from standard or annealed glass, laminated glass and tempered glass receive different treatments to improve strength and durability for specific purposes.

Tempered Glass Construction

Tempered glass is made by cutting a single piece of annealed glass to size and then subjecting it to high temperatures. Blasts of cold air cause the glass’s surface to add compression to its interior — this heating and cooling process increases the glass’s strength. Tempered glass is commonly offered in thicknesses from ⅛” to ¾” and is four times stronger than untreated glass. Tempered glass must also be cut to size before toughening to avoid breakage. 

Laminated Glass Construction

Laminated glass is produced from two layers of annealed glass with a sheet of PVB (polyvinyl) sandwiched between them. The plastic interlayer is heated and bonded in place, and it is what prevents dangerous shattering in the event the glass breaks. Because it is made from two layers, laminated glass typically has an increased thickness when compared to other types of safety glass. Unlike tempered glass, laminated glass may be cut to size after production. 

Benefits of Laminated vs. Tempered Glass 

Tempered shower glass door

Homeowners appreciate the added layer of protection safety glass offers for the home. While care and maintenance of safety glass are similar to annealed glass, there are a few distinct benefits that are unique to each type. 

Laminated Glass Advantages

Its double-layer construction and PBV interlayer afford laminated glass several key benefits:

  • Shatterproof glass at impact
  • Increased energy efficiency
  • Glare reduction (depending on color and thickness of PVB layer)
  • Less UV ray transmission
  • Offers some soundproofing

Tempered Glass Advantages

Tempered glass offers a few benefits that are unique to its thermal processing production:

  • Four times stronger than standard or annealed glass of similar thickness
  • Increased resistance to damage from extreme temperatures and wind
  • Extremely difficult to break and shatter
  • Glass breaks into small pieces with no jagged edges

Where to Install Laminated vs. Tempered Glass

While both laminated and tempered glass offer improved security over standard glass, they are often used for different purposes.

While it is a great choice for city dwellers for added security and noise reduction, laminated glass is most often found in commercial buildings like offices and storefronts to prevent burglaries and intruders. Its higher price point is also a potential drawback for homeowners — tempered glass tends to provide many of the same benefits at a lower cost. 

Where you will find laminated glass:

  • Exterior doors and windows
  • Flooring
  • Canopies
  • Commercial-grade skylights
  • Railings
  • Stair treads
  • Vehicles

Tempered glazing’s scratch, weather, and heat resistant properties make it a great option for a variety of purposes. 

Where you will find tempered glass in a home:

  • Interior doors
  • Shower stalls and doors
  • Skylights
  • Windows
  • Sliding doors
  • Glass balcony doors
  • Swimming pools
  • Oven doors

How Can You Tell What Kind of Safety Glass You Have?

You can identify whether you have annealed, tempered, or laminated glass in your home. Each glass panel will include a small permanent label or “bug” in one of the corners. Along with manufacturer information and safety standard codes, the label will include “tempered” or “laminated.” 

What If Your Glass Does Not Have a Label?

Not all laminated glass panels have labels, so there is still a chance you have safety glass in your home. If you can see a cross-section of the glass, you will see the two layers. Another way to tell if your glass is laminated is by the sound it makes — laminated glass sounds like more of a thud, while tempered or annealed glass has a ting-like sound. 

Laminated and Tempered Glass Takeaways

Safety glass is a great option for areas of the home that see a lot of use and stress from everyday activities. While laminated glass offers superior protection, tempered glass is a lower-cost alternative while still providing similar benefits for homeowners. 

Contact a local Modernize glass professional for guidance on the best type of glass for your home.

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