Tempered Glass vs. ‘Regular’ Glass



coffee tables,shower doors

Between tempered glass and the regular stuff, the words alone make you want to choose the former over the latter – after all, it’s tempered, man.

But, what does that even mean? What if you want your glass without all the bells and whistles? Is non-tempered glass really that bad? Is there really that much of a difference?

Tempered Glass, Definition

Tempered glass is glass that has been heated so as to make it stronger, more resistant to temperature damage and more likely to break cleanly, which can help minimize injury.

Tempering glass is about as straightforward as it sounds. After it is cut, polished and cleaned, the glass is passed through a tempering oven that heats it to around 600ºF. Once heated, it's cooled with rapid blasts of cold air that causes the surface of the glass to contract, which is what makes it stronger.

Tempered Glass, Purpose

Oh, we're talking about some useful stuff right here. Also called “toughened” glass, it’s used in shower doors/stalls, cookware, coffee tables, window glass (for buildings and vehicles) and many other applications. And, you definitely want this stuff made of tempered glass, because if and when these things break it can cause big problems.

Tempered glass breaks into small, dull chunks, which is a good thing. And, this is an important feature because at the end of the day toughened glass isn’t that much tougher than regular glass. At best, it’s going to be 10 times stronger, but keep in mind – it’s still glass. The stuff is inherently fragile, unless ...

Tempered Glass, Contradictions

While tempered glass can be as much as 10 times stronger than regular glass, it is not safety glass. Safety glass is made by bonding two pieces of glass together with a vinyl layer in between that a) helps the glass absorb shock and b) keeps the chunks together if it does happen to break.

In fact, this is the same way they produce bulletproof glass, although it contains a polycarbonate layer that makes it super strong.

NOTE: Don’t expect tempered glass to perform this way. It will disappoint you.

Tempered Glass, Your Friend

It’s always worth it to spend the extra money for tempered glass when it comes to those products that commonly feature it. The cost difference isn’t extravagant when compared with the gains in strength and safety, so always consider it when you’re in the market for, oh, more or less anything made of glass.

The DreamLine "ENIGMA-X" frameless shower door features ANSI-certified tempered glass and Clear Glass protective anti-limescale coating.

This mod coffee table from Dainolite features two tempered glass shelves and legs finished in satin chrome. 

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