It's easy to make the mistake of thinking that one piece of glass is just like another. To the untrained eye, one glass window pane, counter top, or shower door may look just like another. But how that glass is strengthened and treated after it's manufactured and before you install it in your home can make a big difference, no matter where you're installing the glass. Different types of glass can affect your safety, your security, and your comfort in different ways. Take a look at two common methods for strengthening glass and the different ways you can use them in your home.
After a pane of glass is manufactured, the manufacturers may treat it in one of several ways in order to strengthen it. Tempering is one of those treatment methods. To temper glass, the newly manufactured and cooled glass is fabricated, which means that it's cut or drilled into its final shape. This is done before the glass is tempered because trying to fabricate already tempered glass will cause it to shatter. Once the glass is fabricated, it is heated to more than 1100 degrees Fahrenheit and then cooled rapidly. This rapidly cooled glass is then left in a state of high compression and tension.
The purpose for using this method of strengthening is to provide a kind of built-in safety mechanism. When tempered glass breaks, it doesn't break into jagged pieces that can cause deep and serious cuts. Instead, it shatters into many very small square pieces. While there's no way to fix broken tempered glass, you're much less likely to sustain serious cuts if you're near it when it breaks or if you try to clean it up.
While tempered glass can be used for windows, doing so means that if someone wants to break in, all they have to do is hit the right spot and the glass will shatter harmlessly, allowing the intruder access. For that reason, it may not be the best choice for ground floor windows or glass doors, especially if you're worried about break-ins. Tempered glass may be a good choice for a glass coffee table or countertop, though, because you won't have to worry about being pierced by jagged glass if it breaks.
Tempered glass is also commonly used for glass shower doors. If you choose a tempered glass shower door, though, be warned that occasionally, tempered glass can shatter spontaneously. This can happen because of tiny cracks that occur during installation or use, or because of imperfections in the glass. While tempered glass is still a safer choice than glass that will break in a jagged pattern, it's unpleasant to be standing in the shower and suddenly be ambushed by a shower of tiny glass pieces, and you may sustain small cuts this way.
Laminated glass usually starts out as two separate panes of glass that are the same size and the same shape. These panes are sandwiched together in between a thin laminate film made of polyvinyl butryal. The panes and laminating film are then heated in an autoclave in order to fuse the materials into one solid pane.
The extra glass and laminating film combine to make laminated glass a particularly strong type of glass. It can provide better insulation than most types of glass, and it provides security. Laminated glass is actually quite difficult to break. It may crack, but it's unlikely to shatter, and shards of laminated glass can't be easily removed. If you have questions about the manufacturing process, you can contact companies like Glasshopper Schor Glass and otherwise.
Laminated glass is a good choice for windows and glass doors when security is an important concern. Even if you're not convinced that you need the added security provided by laminated glass, you might be interested in its insulating and soundproofing properties. Laminated glass is used to make some of the most energy efficient glass windows and doors, and it's also good for keeping the neighborhood and traffic noise out.
In many areas, building codes specify what kind of glass can be used in windows and doors for safety, so be sure to check the codes in your area when you're working on a building project. For the glass inside the home, safety should still be your primary concern. Knowing how to choose between tempered and laminated glass could keep you from getting badly hurt.