What Is The Difference Between Laminated And Tempered Glass For Glass Balustrades?

29 March 2019
 Categories: , Blog

Glass balustrades add a sleek touch to a deck area, opening up the view so you can sit back and relax without feeling closed in. You can also unwind more knowing that the glass used is safe and secure as regulations guide its use. Two common types are laminated and toughened glass.

The Characteristics Of Laminated Glass

The primary safety feature of laminated glass is the harmless way it breaks in an accident. This breaking pattern is due to how it's manufactured. Laminated glass consists of two glass sheets that are bound with a resin interlayer; the result is one robust glass panel with several layers. If laminated glass fractures, the interlayer typically holds all the broken pieces in place. This is why it is also commonly used for car windscreens. As far as custom glass balustrades go, laminated glass is only suitable for fully framed models. Alternatively, if the decking is less than a metre high, then laminated glass is usually allowable. Your contractor can provide specific advice for your local region.

How Tempered Glass Reacts

Another type of safety glass is toughened glass. The benefits of this are twofold. It is about four or five times stronger than ordinary glass for a start, which makes breakage unlikely. However, if it does so, it crumbles into harmless blunt fragments rather than sharp pointy shards. Thus, injuries are unlikely no matter what.  

To produce these characteristics, toughened glass undergoes a specific quenching process. An oven heats the glass until it's molten. Cold blasts of air then swiftly cool its surface; however, the inner section cools more slowly. This temperature difference between the inner and outer parts causes chemical reactions within the glass that strengthen it. The tempering process also produces the internal structure that safely disintegrates during an accident. One notable feature of toughened glass is that you can't retrim it in any way after this process. So you need to make sure that all measurements are precise if it is being cut to order. Similarly to laminated glass, toughened glass is allowable for decks that are less than a metre to the ground below. It is likewise excellent for fully framed balustrades.

Both types of glass break reliably, and while they are strong, toughened glass is typically stronger. However, ultimately the strength of glass does depend on its thickness. The thicker a glass sheet is, the stronger it becomes. A hybrid type you might come across is laminated-toughened glass; this unites both processes. A resin interlayer bonds together two tempered glass sheets, producing the accumulative benefits for a double dose of safety. Laminated-toughened glass is a possible solution for semi-frameless and frameless models that protect a height that is higher than one metre, so long as an expert contractor or engineer participates in the design.