Glazing glass doors and windows with safety glass is an excellent way to improve building occupant safety wherever there is a risk of glass hazards.
Unless you’re a glazing industry expert, you might think the terms safety glass and tempered glass are interchangeable, but that’s not the case.
Do You Know the Difference Between Safety Glass and Tempered Glass?
Safety glass, or safety glazing to be more precise, is a broad term that can be used to refer to a number of different glazing products, including some that aren’t even glass.
The key here is that all of these products can be used to improve human safety and reduce the risk of injury from glass hazards. Some glazing products serve the dual purpose of improving both safety and security, while others are only intended for making your glass safer.
Tempered glass is just one specific type of safety glass, and it is ONLY designed to make glass safer for people to be around in the event that it breaks. It is NOT built to make commercial facilities more secure.
This is why tempered glass is often also referred to as tempered safety glass. There is no such thing as tempered security glass.
To sum up, tempered glass is safety glass, but not all safety glass is tempered glass.
How does tempered glass improve safety?
Tempered glass is treated with extremely high heat and a special cooling process, which changes the way the glass shatters when it breaks.
Rather than breaking apart into sharp, jagged shards, which can fly dangerously towards people, tempered safety glass crumbles apart into small, granular pieces. These pieces present very little risk of injury, even when handled, as they are not sharp enough to cut you.
This is why tempered glass is used for passenger vehicle side windows, glass furniture, glass doors in appliances, and architectural glass, such as railings, staircases, and walkways.
Any glass surfaces that humans are in close proximity to or have contact with that could potentially break and cause injury are where tempered glass is most commonly found.
What about other types of safety glass vs tempered glass?
There are no other types of safety glass that crumble when they break the same way that tempered glass does.
However, many types of safety and security glazing are designed to either hold the existing glass in place when it breaks or create a barrier to prevent it from breaking in the first place, in order to mitigate the risk of sharp shards of glass flying dangerously inwards.
Safety glazing products are suitable for many different types of commercial buildings, such as:
- Office buildings
- High-end retailers
- Government facilities
- Places of worship
- Hospitality businesses
- Certain types of luxury residential buildings
Types of Safety Glass (And Other Glazing Products)
The products discussed below are some of the most commonly found types of safety and security glazing. As you’ll see, they’re very different from tempered safety glass, and have unique intended purposes.
These glazing products can all be used to improve safety where glass breakage is a concern, and some can also be used to protect commercial properties against a full range of security threats.
- Wired safety glass
- Safety and security window film
- Laminated security glass
- Polycarbonate security glazing
Wired safety glass
Wired safety glass has wire mesh built into the glass, which helps hold the glass in place if broken. Wired glass has been used for many decades to prevent glass from falling during a fire.
This type of safety glass is most commonly found in older schools and various other old buildings. It is less common than tempered glass nowadays.
Safety and security window film
Safety and security window film is a special poly-based coating that is applied directly to glass surfaces to reinforce them.
This type of window film does not prevent the glass from breaking, but it helps retain the broken shards in place, making it much safer for people on the inside.
Safety and security window film is most effective when used to improve safety, but it can also enhance a building’s security by delaying and deterring forced entry and burglary.
Laminated security glass
Laminated security glass is a special type of reinforced glass that consists of two or more layers of thick, strong glass laminated on top of a thermoplastic interlayer.
This interlayer holds the layers of glass in place even when broken, and is very hard to break in the first place, making it a superior product to tempered glass when it comes to safety and security.
Laminated security glass can be used for similar applications to tempered safety glass, such as glass storefronts, but it differs in that it provides a high level of impact protection.
Although security laminates are not unbreakable, they are very resistant to forced entry attempts, and even the most determined would-be intruders will find it difficult to get through them.
This strength and durability makes laminated security glass a good choice when you want to protect a business or facility from burglary, rioting and looting, storm damage, active threats, and more.
Polycarbonate security glazing
Polycarbonate security glazing is the best of the best when it comes to both safety and security.
Because this type of glazing is made entirely from polycarbonate, a type of plastic, and does not actually contain any glass, it is virtually unbreakable.
Polycarbonate glazing shields can be retrofitted in front of existing glass doors and windows to protect the glass behind it from all manner of impacts. In most cases, the existing glass remains uncompromised, even after repeated impacts.
With the right surface coating, polycarbonate security glazing looks and feels very similar to standard window glass. It is ideal for all types of commercial applications, from specialty retail stores to glass office buildings.
Let Campbell Help You Improve Your Safety and Security
Campbell Window Film offers a wide variety of safety and security glazing and installation services. Contact us today for your free consultation.