Laminated vs. Tempered Glass Windows: How to Choose Between Tempered and Laminated Glass?

Laminated vs. Tempered Glass Windows: How to Choose Between Tempered and Laminated Glass?

Updated: 05.25.2023

By Nina Tsoy

The demand for safety glass and other glazing products to secure homes and commercial buildings has increased. One of the significant safety issues for commercial buildings is the threat of forced entry. Large doors and windows are essential for these buildings and provide aesthetic value. Yet, they are also an easy target for burglars.

Companies like Apex Window Werks have developed better glass to meet the need for safer glazing products. Two of the most common are tempered and laminated glass. In this blog, we answer “what is the difference between tempered and laminated glass?” to give you a better idea of what product is better suited for your project.

What Is Laminated Glass?

Laminated glass is a form of safety glass created by combining two or more pieces of annealed glass with a layer of plastic or PVB (polyvinyl butyral) between them.

This process involves applying heat and pressure to join the glass and the interlayer, creating a chemical bond that transforms into a new material. The arrangement is similar to making a glass “sandwich” – with the glass acting as the bread and the plastic layer forming the filling.

The interlayer holds the door or window glass together and prevents it from shattering, producing a “spider web” effect of broken glass when it breaks. Laminated glass looks the same as ordinary glass.


Pros & Cons of Laminated Glass

Laminate glass offers several advantages, such as protection from UV rays and reduced noise levels, especially when used in double glazing, but its main benefit is increased safety.

It is far more difficult to break than standard annealed glass and is better equipped to prevent injuries and damages caused by accidents, intrusions, and extreme weather conditions.

In fact, laminated glass can easily be repaired with a special, transparent, adhesive resin if it is subject to minor impact damage.

The downside is the cost; it’s more expensive than standard glass. This is due to a complex manufacturing process since the glass comprises multiple layers, unlike standard glass, which is just one.

What Is Tempered Safety Glass?

laminated glass vs tempered

Tempered glass is also a type of safety glass made more robust through a process called “tempering”, which involves using heat or chemicals. Rapid cooling increases the compression forces on the surface and the tension forces inside the glass.

This toughening process makes it up to four times stronger than annealed (regular) glass of the same size and thickness. Like laminated glass, when tempered glass breaks, it “spider webs” into small pieces with smoother edges instead of shattering into large, dangerous shards. This reduces the risk of injury compared to ordinary glass.

Pros & Cons of Tempered Glass

Tempered glass is much stronger than typical annealed glass of the same size and thickness, with some sources reporting it to be up to four times stronger. Furthermore, it has greater tensile strength, meaning it can bend easier without breaking and is more resistant to strong winds.

One disadvantage is it cannot be cut or repaired after it has been through the tempering process, so you must be 100% certain of its design and measurements. On the other hand, laminated glass is repairable, making it a better option for certain applications.

Tempered Glass vs. Laminated Glass: Key Differences

Both laminated and tempered glass offer excellent optical clarity and will provide many years of satisfactory service when used for doors or windows. When deciding on toughened glass, you’ll want to consider the following parameters to determine if laminated or tempered glass is best suited for the job.

#1. Manufacturing Process

The primary difference between laminated and tempered glass lies in their manufacturing process. Laminated glass is made by bonding one or two layers of glass with a resin layer, often called polyvinyl butyral (PVB). The interlayer holds the glass together, even when it is broken or impacted by a large force.

Tempered glass, conversely, is produced by toughening standard glass to make it stronger. Subjecting the glass to heat, pressure, and chemical treatments produces a better balance of internal stress and makes it more resistant to force. However, tempered glass is still prone to shattering when hit with great force.

#2. Common Applications

Laminated glass is an excellent option for homeowners and commercial building owners who desire greater security, i.e., a laminate glass door. It can also be used in windows of tall structures, balconies, skylights, vehicle windshields, and frameless glass railings. Additionally, some business owners may request laminated glass to reduce outside noise levels.

Are car windows tempered glass? Yes, many are. Tempered glass is ideal for windshield and interior safety glass applications such as shower doors, tub doors, hotel conference rooms, and commercial buildings with large windows. It ensures a clear view of the outdoors and protects building occupants from harsh weather conditions. It’s even possible to get tempered safety glass front doors.

#3. Strength & Durability

laminated vs tempered glass

Let’s look at laminated safety glass vs. tempered glass regarding strength.

Laminated glass is incredibly strong, made up of glass layers with a resin interlayer, and undergoing pressure and heat treatment, which makes it up to 100 times stiffer than regular glass. However, even stronger than laminated glass is tempered glass, which has gone through extra heat, pressure, and chemical treatment, allowing it to withstand greater impacts and forces.

Even though laminated glass is unlikely to shatter, it does not have the same strength as tempered glass and it needs some force to break it. Ultimately, tempered glass is the stronger option, providing better protection and safety.

#4. Customization Options

Customization options for laminated glass include different thicknesses, colors, tinted and reflective glass, acid-etched glass, sandblasted glass, and various types of lamination (i.e., PVB and EVA). Additionally, laminated glass can be textured or patterned with multiple designs and shapes.

Tempered glass can also be customized in various ways, including thickness, shape, size, edge type, color, and tint. Many manufacturers offer additional features, such as anti-glare, anti-fingerprint, and anti-scratch coatings. Some glass may also be customized with decorative etchings, printed logos, and other images.

#5. Price

The cost difference between laminated and toughened glass depends on the type and thickness of the glass, as well as the size and complexity of the project.

Laminated glass usually costs more due to its complex manufacturing process and materials. To make laminated glass, resin, and glass panes are required, along with heating and pressure treatments.

Even though tempered glass is more expensive to buy than standard glass, it is still less costly than laminated glass. Cost should also be considered when deciding between laminated or tempered glass for your building.

Laminated Glass vs. Tempered Glass: Which One to Choose?

Both types of glass are safe and come in various thicknesses and colors or tints. Tempered glass is usually the first option when considering strength and breakage resistance. However, laminated glass is often the better choice for flexibility, UV resistance, security, and sound considerations.

Both tempered glass and laminated glass are easy to clean and maintain. However, it is essential to remember you cannot cut tempered glass after it has undergone the tempering process, as piercing the surface will cause the glass to explode. On the other hand, laminated glass can typically be cut and sized at any time without issue, which may benefit specific projects.

Safety Glass vs. Regular Glass: Speak to Specialists!

At Apex Window Werks, we are glass experts. As a leading window glass replacement company, we specialize in laminated and tempered glass and can help you choose the one best suited for your residence or business. Whether you’re looking for safety, security, or aesthetic appeal, our company has the right glass solution for your needs.

If you need to replace windows, build from scratch, or create a custom solution, we have the tools to provide you with suitable safety glass. Book an appointment for more information about our safety glass services.

Nina Tsoy

Nina Tsoy

With over 15 years of experience in the window repair, replacement, and manufacturing business, Nina is in charge for strategic solutions and exceptional operational performance at Apex Window Werks. This allows her to offer innovative techniques and solutions to address any window-related problem, all while adhering to industry standards and best practices.

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