Window glass allows a home, office, or virtually any other structure to capitalize on natural light, while offering a relaxing view of the world outside. Yet all glass represents a potential safety threat if broken. For that reason, many homeowners - especially those with young children - opt to install so-called safety glass in their home.
Many people fail to realize safety glass is a somewhat generic term, one used in describing several different kinds of glass. Two of the most common kinds of safety glass are actually called laminated glass and tempered glass.
If you would like to improve your knowledge of these two types of safety glass, read on. This article will outline how these varieties of glass act to reduce the chances of harm should one of your windows break.
Laminated glass consists of two layers of glass separated by a layer of laminate, usually either polyvinyl butyral or ethylene-vinyl acetate. This sticky layer of laminate holds the glass together, even if shattered. It also helps to increase the strength of the glass, thus reducing the amount of breakage in the event of a serious impact.
The automotive industry has long used laminated glass to construct windshields. Architects also opt for laminated glass when building skylights. And these days, more and more homeowners choose to utilize laminated glass as a material for window glazing. Naturally, the safety benefits of laminated glass play heavily in such a decision.
Yet laminated glass also has benefits that extend far beyond the world of safety. For one thing, laminated glass acts to reduce sound levels. A single sheet of 6.5 millimeter laminated glass has been shown to reduce noise levels by up to 32 decibels. For those who live in noisy urban areas, that kind of difference can be quite transformative, increasing your day-to-day level of tranquility.
Laminated glass also reduces the amounts of UV rays that pass through the glass by up to 95 percent. As a result, your furniture, wall hangings, and other objects won't suffer from bleaching or discoloration.
Tempered glass takes another approach to increasing safety. This type of glass boasts a resistance to impact related damage up to five times greater than that of standard glass. Such incredible strength stems from the manner in which the glass is fabricated, specifically during the cooling phase.
All glass starts out in a molten state, during which time it is poured into molds that govern its ultimate shape. The glass must then be carefully cooled. Regular window glass is cooled only once, at moderate temperatures. Tempered glass, on the other hand, follows this up by heating the glass a second time and then cooling it very rapidly. This causes the outer surfaces of the glass to cool more quickly than the interior.
As the outside surfaces of the glass cool, they contract. This places the glass in the middle under a much greater degree of compressive force. This force remains even after the center of the glass has cooled. It causes the resulting sheet of glass to have a much greater degree of structural integrity, boosting its ability to resist shattering or cracking.
The manufacturing process of tempered glass also affects how it behaves if it does shatter. Instead of breaking into sharp, jagged pieces, tempered glass will shatter into small blocks. Compared to regular glass shards, these tiny chunks of glass pose a much less safety risk.
The nature of tempered glass makes it much more damage-resistant than even laminated glass. As a result, tempered glass tends to come with a somewhat higher price tag. For an even higher premium, you can opt for laminated tempered glass, which incorporates the best aspects of both types of safety glass.
The type of glass you choose for your home can make a huge difference on your family's safety. For more information about the best glass choice for you, please contact the glazing experts at Economy Glass Inc.