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When and why to use tempered glass? [A complete guide]

The manufacturing process of tempered glass ensures that it resists shattering into jagged pieces that can cause cuts and other severe injuries. Because of its safety features, the glass has many applications, especially in areas where there is a high risk of accidental breakage and vandalism

Making this type of glass involves a series of chemical changes to the glass through temperature changes. These chemical changes effectively make the glass less fragile and prevent it from splintering. When force has been applied the glass just crumbles. 

Building codes for glass surfaces need to be met whether a new place is being built or windows are replaced during home or building renovations. 

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What does the building code specify? 

According to the International Building Code (2406.4.3) safety glass (tempered) must be used when the following conditions are met: 

  • When an exposed area of each pane is greater than 9 square feet.
  • If the bottom edge of the glazing is less than 18 inches from the floor.
  • If the top edge of the glazing is greater than 36 inches from the floor.
  • When one or more walking surfaces are within 36 inches of the plane of the glazing. These measurements must be taken horizontally and in a straight line of the plane of the glazing.

Areas where to use Tempered Glass

Tempered glass is used in commercial interiors and can be used in many areas of the home for added safety: 


It must be used in all wet areas within a bathroom. These areas include showers, bathtubs, saunas, spas, and whirlpools. These rules apply to decks and swimming pools too also which need to be made of safety glass if the bottom edge is 60 inches above a standing surface or walkway and within 60 inches of the water.

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Any fixed, sliding, swinging or other doors need to have this type of glass fitted. The same applies to any glass within 24 inches of a doorway if the glass is 60 inches or less above the walking surface. If the glass opening is less than 3 inches, the rule does not apply or if the glass is for decorative purposes. 


If a stairway, landing, or ramp has a glass wall adjacent to within 5 feet of the top or bottom and 60 inches or less above the walking surface, then it must be made of safety glass. Also, all glass stair rails and baluster panels must be made of tempered glazing.  


All fixed and movable windows that are bigger than 9 square feet and have a bottom edge of fewer than 18 inches above the floor and a top edge over 36 inches from the floor, must be fitted with hardened glass. 


The mirrored glass on large surfaces in the home, especially on closet doors and next to stairs and landings, should also be made of strong glass. 

Other applications

Shelves, table tops, fixtures, and partitions, particularly in stores, offices, museums, and restaurants. 

When to use Tempered Glass?

1. When Safety is essential

To knowing what does tempered glass mean then Tempered glass is stronger and resists breakage under many difficult conditions. It is used on large surfaces where breakage is inevitable because of constant use, or in cars and trucks to prevent injuries from glass shards in the event of an accident. This is because the glazing does not shatter into razor-sharp slivers, but crumbles evenly. This ensures that no dangerous pieces of sharp glass fly around in the air if the glass is shattered. 

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In the event of the glass shattering, it is much easier to clean up ensuring that there are no pieces left behind to cause injuries. 

The heat applied during the manufacturing process of the glazing makes it heat resistant and the glass cannot weaken or melt in a fire. If it does shatter, no pieces of shards will fly around. That is why tempered glass is used in areas where strict fire codes must be adhered to, including public buildings, laboratories, and fire engines. 

2. High chances of earthquake, tornadoes, or hurricanes

The wind speed during tornadoes and hurricanes can shatter glass and cause shards of glass to fly around dangerously. Climate change has caused an increase in the occurrence of these storms across most of the eastern side of the U.S., especially Florida, Texas, Kansas, and Oklahoma. In these areas impact, resistant windows are essential for protection. 

In areas where earthquakes are prevalent, buildings structures are often shaken and twisted during a tremor. Glass is a brittle material and it is not pliable and therefore, cannot tolerate this type of movement. Therefore, it is the first thing to be destroyed during an earthquake, creating dangerous conditions during and after it. 

3. Size of the glass is large

Tempering does not allow the glass to be cut and therefore it is manufactured according to specific sizes. If the glass is too big for any space, there is nothing that can be done. There is only one exception, and that is if the glass is up to ¼” too big, then a 1/8” can be taken off its edges. Therefore, careful measurements are essential.

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4. Have sufficient budget

Tempered glazing does cost about four times more than plate glass, but it is also much stronger and more durable. This is created by the process of heating the glass to approximately 700 °C and then immediately cooling it.

It also has high thermal strength and can withstand temperatures changes of up to 250°C, but none of the basic characteristics of the glass are changed, and it has the same light transmission and solar radiant heat properties. 

Order tempered glass and mirrors for all your surfaces 

Use the custom cut tool to choose the type, size, and dimension of the glass. Also provide all the details like thickness, measurements, referred edging and it will be delivered to your doorstep in perfect condition. The company claims to meet every safety glazing requirement and its tempered glazing is certified by the Safety Glazing Certification Council, the third-party independent testing agency. 

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