Which Is Better – Toughened Or Laminated Glass?

Glass is an increasingly sought-after material for many homeowners. And being so versatile, architects and specifiers use it for many contemporary design features for new home builds and renovations. But alongside its aesthetic qualities, glass options can also provide crucial security measures against break-ins and household or building safety. The two critical options for this are toughened glass and laminated glass. While they can often be mistaken for each other, with people often thinking they’re the same thing, there are significant differences between them. So which is better – toughened or laminated glass? This article will give you clarity and understanding of both options and guidance on where each should be in use.

What is laminated glass?

Laminated glass comprises two or more separate panes of glass bonded together by a plastic film interlayer made from either EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate) or PVB (polyvinyl butyral). If the laminated glass breaks under force, its design and composition mean the glass remains completely intact. It won’t shatter into thousands of shard-like pieces and won’t leave any hole. Laminated glass has greater UV protection and sound-proofing qualities than standard and toughened glass.

What is toughened glass?

Toughened glass (or tempered glass) is a very different product from laminated glass. Though lightweight, it can be up to five times stronger than standard glass thanks to its manufacturing process, which involves heating the glass to around 650ºC, followed by rapid cooling. The results leave the glass with a tough outer layer that can withstand heavy shock, impact, and extreme temperatures. However, if toughened glass does break, unlike laminated glass, it will shatter but only into small pieces with blunt edges rather than sharp shards.

Toughened glass vs laminated glass

Both toughened and laminated glass are incredibly useful products, but they’re best suited for different uses in different areas.

Toughened glass is more commonly used where strength and heat resistance are needed, without a need for noise or UV resistance. These qualities make it an ideal material for car windows, shower doors,screen doors, or kitchen work surfaces that have plenty of hands-on use. But it also means that if they break and shatter, the glass will naturally break into small clumps without sharp edges for added safety.

Conversely, laminated glass has even more features making it an attractive option for commercial or residential installations. This type of glass focuses on safety, so it’s often the glass type of choice in public spaces or high-traffic areas, commonly used in low windows, glass balustrades, glass stairs, and glass floors. Even if the glass does get broken, its design will hold together and remain intact without shattering into pieces which could fall and cause injury.

Both tempered and laminated glass can also be colour tinted. Manufacturers can add metal oxides for privacy or security or reduce glare, solar heat, and UV damage. Laminated glass can also be colour tinted for the same reasons, but the tint can come from either the glass itself or the EVA/PVB layer between the panes.

But both glass types must meet British legal standards. Your installer will know which is which, but you can look for the official kitemark and the BS code: BS EN 12150 for toughened glass and BS EN 14449 for laminated glass. These BS codes are essential when using both kinds of glass in commercial or residential installations so all materials comply with building regulations.

What are the benefits of toughened glass?

Toughened glass has plenty to offer in the correct installation, and using it is essential where there are safety concerns or glass is specified over a larger area.

Safety

Toughened glass is highly impact-resistant, but if it ever shatters, it can be spectacular – but it can also be reasonably safe as it breaks into small pieces that have blunt edges.

Strength

Toughened glass has exceptional strength and can withstand surface weight of up to 10,000lbs per sq inch, making it five times stronger than regular glass.

Temperature resistance

Toughened glass has a higher thermal strength too, and can withstand extreme temperatures of anywhere up to 250ºC (480ºF).

What are the benefits of laminated glass?

The benefits of laminated glass all centre around its plastic film interlayer, which has a remarkable effect in many ways when specified for smaller or more specific uses:

Safety

Laminated glass is highly impact-resistant, but in the event of damage, the film interlayer between the glass prevents shattering, so the glass stays intact and minimises injury risk.

Security

While not as durable as toughened glass, laminated glass is still hard to penetrate. That’s down to the PVB/EVA film layer between the glass, which can keep your property safe from a break-in.

UV resistance

The film layer in laminated glass will also block a higher percentage of the sun’s harmful UV rays to prevent sun fade and damage to furniture and furnishings.

Noise reduction

The PVB/EVA film layer between the glass panes also helps to provide noise reduction by dampening the soundwaves for a quieter experience.

Common uses for laminated glass

Laminated glass is a versatile, high-performance material used in many applications. It’s in high demand where safety and security are paramount, but a stunning, modern finish is expected. Here are just some of the many common uses for laminated glass in commercial, public, and domestic installations:

  • Glass stairs
  • Glass balustrades
  • Glass floors
  • Glass balconies
  • Glass roofs or skylights

Common uses for toughened glass

Offering a similar high-quality, high-performance, modern finish, toughened glass is regularly specified for areas where safety and security are essential. Thanks to its lightweight properties and temperature resistance, it’s a common material in commercial architecture used over larger internal and external areas and smaller areas in home interiors. Here are just some of the many common uses for toughened glass for these installations:

  • Low-level windows
  • Interior glass walls
  • Glass doors
  • Large shop windows and storefronts
  • Glass roofs or skylights
  • Shelving

Toughened and laminated glass from GlasSpace

So which is better – toughened or laminated glass? Both have similar qualities, with safety and security being key features for both, and choosing between them depends on your needs or preferences and the advice of your specifier or installer. But this guide should have helped you understand the main differences between them.

GlasSpace are certified professionals as designers and manufacturers of specialist frameless glass extensions and structural glass walls, floors, bridges, and staircases. Our team has all the structural glass expertise you need to help you with any questions or installation details. Contact us now for more information and get your free, no-obligation quote today.

GlasSpace is a registered company in England. © GlasSpace 2023. All Rights Reserved.

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