Have you ever wondered what you could do to make your home safer? Picture this: you’re curled up on the couch watching a late-night thriller movie, and the home invasion scene comes on. As the villain effortlessly breaks through the terrified homeowner’s window, you glance over at your living room window, and suddenly you’re concerned about your safety.
I know the feeling. I’ve been there, double-checking my locks and leaving a light on because I’m worried that someone might break in. It felt like I could do nothing to make my house safer, but get this: I was wrong.
That’s right – there is something that you can do to make your windows 4-5 times stronger. And you know what? All you need to do is choose a different type of glass – tempered glass.
Maybe you think that you have already taken other steps to secure your house. Great, but don’t stop reading just yet, because tempered glass does more than help keep bad guys out. We will also be sharing how this type of glass can protect you and your family from accidental injury.
Want to find out more about this special glass and how it works? First off, let’s start by introducing the world of glass. Frankly, most of us don’t know much about glass, and we assume it is all created equal. But consider this: there are many types of glass, and each is designed for a different purpose.
By now, you’re probably wondering what type of glass is used in everyday windows and how to tell if your existing windows are regular glass or tempered glass. But before we go into how to identify the type of glass you have, we need to learn about both kinds.
What Kind of Glass is Used in Windows and Doors?
The standard glass that you can expect to find in basic home windows is called annealed glass. It is a softer glass cooled slowly during production to help it withstand temperature fluctuations.
A stronger type of glass that can also be found in homes and businesses is tempered or toughened glass. It is a type of safety glass that gains its strength from the rapid heating and cooling process that it goes through during production.
International building codes require that tempered glass be used in specific locations such as shower doors, hot tubs, and stairs where the risk of someone falling into the glass is higher. Even though it is more expensive than other standard glass types, it is the safest option.
What Makes Tempered Glass a Good Choice?
Tempered glass is a preferred window material choice for two reasons: durability and safety.
Want to see just how much abuse a tempered window can take? Baseballs and golf balls may bounce off a tempered glass window, but they shattered the annealed glass. Keep that in mind the next time you see a flock of neighborhood kids headed down the street to play baseball.
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This type of glass is stronger than standard glass. Fair warning: even a tempered glass window can be broken, but if it does break, it breaks much differently than annealed glass. This is where your family’s safety comes into play.
Annealed glass breaks into pieces with sharp edges that can get embedded in little feet and hands. If your elderly parent or your little child falls through an annealed glass window, they will end up with nasty cuts making it a potential danger to your family.
This is where the tempered glass fits in. When tempered glass breaks, it breaks into small, smoother, and more rounded pieces than annealed glass. Your loved ones are much less likely to cut themselves on the smooth edges of broken glass.
Related article: What Glass is Best for Skylights? A Guide to Skylights
How to Tell if Glass is Tempered
So how do you tell if you already have tempered glass windows? According to Hunker, there are ways to know if your glass is genuinely tempered, and it’s easier than you think.
You start by checking for an etched stamp in one of the window corners that says “Tempered” or “Temp.”
No stamp? Don’t stop yet because there is still a chance your window is tempered, and the window frame hides the stamp.
Wait for a sunny day, then put on a pair of polarized sunglasses and look at the window in question. If it is tempered, you will see a series of dark, shadowy lines across the glass. These are leftovers from the rollers that the window pane sat on during tempering.
The Bottom Line
In the end, it all comes to the client’s preferences and needs. What is essential is having a professional installation and an efficient window or door. To recap, the most common types of glass used in homes are annealed and tempered. Tempered glass is specially treated to be stronger and safer than annealed glass, so it is used in more high-risk locations where it is mandated by building code. Expect tempered glass to break less easily and, if it does break, to be less sharp and dangerous.
Now go take a look at your current windows and see if they are tempered, and while doing it, you can double-check if your seal is working correctly. If not, give us a call, and we will walk you through how to make your home safer with tempered glass.
Note: This post was originally published on August 22, 2019. It was updated on January 25, 2022 to reflect improvements in technology and the industry.