When we built our first home, there were a number of windows that had to be made of tempered glass or safety glass. Due to their location, regular window glass wouldn't be strong enough to provide the needed safety.
For example, our second story balcony walkway ran right next to an enormous glass window. The window went all the way to the balcony floor and was on the second story of a three story opening inside the house. (We affectionately called it “the canyon.”) If someone happened to be walking or running on the balcony and tripped, falling toward the window, they could have easily broken the pane and headed straight down on a path to the floor below.
With tempered glass installed, such an accident wouldn't be likely to incur much damage.
Tempered glass is four times stronger than regular (annealed) glass because it's been through a special heating process during the manufacturing. Usually that means heating the glass to over 1,000 degrees and then quickly cooling it to make a very robust material.
Tempered glass is used for:
- storefront windows
We have frameless shower doors in the master bath. They are, as you can imagine, made of tempered glass. The last thing you want in the shower is shards of glass everywhere. And when they are hung in this manner (with only hinges and a handle — no frame at all), the glass needs to be very strong.
Another advantage of using tempered glass is that it resists scratching. It costs more, but if you have a nice piece of architectural glass that lasts years and years and years, it can be a cost saving measure in the long run.
If you're building your dream home, see where safety glass makes sense and where it is required by code.