Laminated Glass Vs Toughened Glass – Which Should You Choose?

Laminated glass and toughened glass are two types of safety glass. Often, people are mistaken when it comes to the differences between the two, or they believe that they’re the same thing. In actual fact, they’re very different, and are used for different purposes – even if they do look the same.

Safety glass is typically used on external windows and doors, glass balustrades, glass shelving and vehicle windows. Essentially, it’s used anywhere that it could cause immediate injury if broken.

Safety glass is usually toughened or laminated, but you can also find other variants too, such as wire mesh glass. These all offer the same end result in terms of protection from injury but they’re created differently and used for a variety of different products.

What is laminated glass?

Laminated Glass - KLG Glass

Laminated glass consists of 2 sheets of glass that have a layer of plastic sandwiched between them. This layer of plastic is called polyvinyl butyral. Polyvinyl butyral acts as a barrier between the 2 sheets of glass and prevents them from breaking into shards or shattering into little pieces. The resistance to penetration provides additional security and the added layer also offers ultraviolet light protection, so prevents fading from sunlight.

Is laminated glass tempered?

Laminated glass and tempered glass are two different things. Tempered glass is standard glass that has been heat-treated to make it more durable.

Is laminated glass more secure?

As laminated glass has a layer of polyvinyl butyral between two sheets of glass, it makes it an incredibly secure glass-type. This material is used externally to heighten security which helps prevents break-ins.

Can laminated glass be cut?

Laminated glass can be cut to size. It is tricky to do though, and requires a professional to do it. Laminated glass can also be etched and sandblasted with your choice of design, unlike toughened glass.

How does laminated glass shatter?

Laminated glass doesn’t shatter. If laminated glass receives heavy impact, the glass will break however the plastic holds the glass in place. Removing any danger from broken glass.

What is laminated glass used for?

Laminated glass is typically used anywhere that human impact may occur and falling glass could add further danger. Laminated glass is used for:

  • Car windscreens
  • Glass floors
  • Glass balustrades
  • Full length internal and external windows and doors
  • Skylights
  • Public spaces where glass is used such as bar shelves and shop windows

Laminated glass isn’t as strong as toughened glass on initial impact, however it’s advantage over toughened glass is that it won’t fall to pieces when hit. The plastic sheet between the two sheets of glass acts as a barrier and will hold the glass in place until a replacement is found.

What is toughened glass?

toughened glass - KLG Glass

Toughened glass is similar to tempered glass and follows the same strengthening process. However it’s much stronger. Toughened glass is designed to shatter into “break safe” fragments rather than shards, reducing the chances of injury.

Toughened glass is heated to high temperatures and then rapidly cooled to solidify it. It can also be heat-soaked and laminated if necessary.

Is toughened glass fire resistant?

Not all toughened glass is fire resistant. Standard toughened glass isn’t. You shouldn’t use toughened glass for doors if the door is a fire exit. However, you can purchase toughened glass that has been specifically designed for this purpose.

Can toughened glass be cut?

Toughened glass can be cut. And, like laminated glass, toughened glass can be cut to size, but not in the conventional sense.

Toughened glass cutting is a long and lengthy process. The glass must be heated to 500-degrees Celsius and slowly cooled. Once cool, the glass can then be cut. However, we recommend that any toughened glass is made to measure in the first instance to prevent issues.

How strong is toughened glass?

Toughened glass can be shattered with impact; it breaks up into hundreds of tiny pieces rather than shards, meaning it’s less likely to cause injury. However, the material is incredibly strong.

Toughened glass is stronger than you might think. For perspective, toughened glass is 5 times stronger than standard glass.

Can toughened glass be recycled?

Toughened glass cannot be recycled. Toughened glass has a much higher melting point than any other glass. If you recycle toughened glass there will still be large portions of unmelted glass which then causes quality issues for manufacturers.

What is toughened glass used for?

Toughened glass is used in places where human injury needs to be reduced, this is primarily for public services and public buildings. Toughened glass is used for:

  • Phone booths
  • Bus stops
  • Glass shelves
  • Splashbacks for kitchens
  • Showerscreens

Toughened glass is the strongest form of glass. When compared to laminated glass, it takes a lot more force to break toughened glass than it does laminated. However, when toughened glass is broken, it will shatter into hundreds of tiny pieces.

Toughened and laminated glass are incredibly durable and provide safety to yourself, loved ones and the public. They are both created to prevent harm coming to human life if broken.

Which type of glass that you use largely comes down to personal preference. Both types of glass have their pros and cons and both are suitable for use in critical locations in the home. If you plan on using one of these glass-types, but you’re not sure which type would be best for you, please don’t hesitate to give us a call.

What is Safety Glass and What are Its Uses?

Glass is a fantastic invention. It allows us to see into the outside world without having the deal with the weather, while at the same time allowing light to disperse through the interior of a building. Modern architecture wouldn’t be the same without it!

But for all of its considerable advantages, glass does have some downsides – the most obvious of which is its fragility. Without proper treatment, the delicate material has a habit of shattering into razor-sharp fragments with the slightest force.

Fortunately, the technology has come a long way over time and among the most notable improvements has been the development of reinforced, or safety glass as it’s commonly known. This is a special sort of toughened glass that’s been designed to limit the danger without compromising aesthetics. Let’s take a look at it!

What are the Different Types of Safety Glass?

Safety glass comes in several different sorts, of which two stand out as noteworthy: Laminated glass and tempered glass.

Laminated Glass

This sort of glass consists of two panels, between which sits a layer of plastic. In the event of an impact, this layer of plastic holds the fragments in place. This makes it difficult for an intruder to gain access. Also limiting the risk of accidental injury. As such, it’s ideal for settings where security is paramount.

Toughened Glass

Toughened glass is formed under special conditions. It’s heated to around 650°C before being chilled under controlled conditions. This results in a difference in tension between the outside and interior of the panel: the outer layers are squashed while the interior is stretched. This results in a glass that’s much stronger than usual.

Toughened, or ‘tempered’ glass panels are thus widespread in commercial settings. When they shatter, the tension between the interior and exterior causes the panel to crumble into tiny blunt chunks rather than large jagged shards, significantly reducing the chances of injury.

Another variety of safety glass is ‘Georgian wired’. This is constructed in much the same way as laminated glass, except that the interior panel holding everything in place is a wire mesh rather than a transparent plastic sheet. Georgian wired glass is weaker than other varieties, because the wires impinge upon the structure of the surrounding glass, weakening the panel. As such, it’s rarely used today, and serves as a historical curiosity.

Where Should Safety Glass Be Used?

There are several places where safety glass is mandatory. These include safety-critical locations like car windscreens. After all, collisions are unpleasant enough without adding flying shards of glass to the mix. But you’ll also find safety glass panels in museums, shops, glass tables, telephone boxes, bus shelters and fishtanks.

In buildings, safety glass is mandatory in certain places, these are called ‘critical areas’. Critical areas include:

  • Glazed door less than 1500mm from floor level.
  • Any glazed area in a window less than 800mm from floor level.

Windows within 300mm of the door are treated as sidelights, and thus subject to the higher 1500mm limit.

Is it Possible to Cut Safety Glass?

Once toughened glass is tempered, its size and shape cannot be changed. Cut into it and you’ll cause it to shatter into thousands of tiny opaque chunks. While it may be possible to remove a few millimetres from the edge of a piece, this could cause the tempered glass to weaken and ultimately break later down the line. The best solution is to get the glass cut-to-size from the very beginning. Fail to do this, and the chances are that your project will be needlessly delayed.

Laminated glass, on the other hand, can be cut. But it’s a job that requires precision and skill. You’ll need to score the glass on either side before gently moving the panels until they snap along the line. If this sounds a little risky, then it’s probably a better idea to bring a professional in to do the job.

Can you Drill Safety Glass?

Toughened glass is as impossible to drill as it is to cut: it will shatter as soon as the pressure within the glass reaches tipping point. In the case of untampered, laminated glass, two holes must be made on either side of the pane to stop chip marks emanating from the ‘exit wound’ as the drill passes through.

Will Safety Glass Shatter?

One of the major advantages of safety glass is that it will shatter evenly into small pieces, each of which has fewer sharp edges than those that result from a standard window breaking. Businesses prefer it for reasons of liability – if a display case is made from safety glass, it’s far less likely to injure a customer who trips and falls into it.

It’s worth noting that not all shatter-marks are the same. This is especially so in the case of laminated glass. Edge damage which occurs during manufacture, or during a poor installation, will spread to form a visible crack over the course of months or years. For this reason, it’s worth paying the little bit extra required to get the window professionally installed.

Can Safety Glass be Recycled?

When safety glass does break, it tends to be slightly more difficult to recycle than standard windows, which in turn are more difficult to recycle than, say, glass bottles. This is because the glass has a different melting point, and thus is more difficult to separate into usable raw materials.

Don’t chuck it in with the rest of your recycling. Instead, look for a specialist facility, and ask whether they can take the glass off your hands.


So, what have we learned? Safety glass comes in several different sorts to suit a range of purposes. If you’re shopping for a ground-floor door or window, then the chances are that you’ll need toughened (or ‘tempered’ glass). This will shatter into tiny blunt pieces rather than large sharp ones. Proper manufacturing and installation methods will reduce the likelihood of cracks developing after the glass is in place.