Laminated vs Tempered Glass Windows

A section of broken, tempered safety glass.
  • 8-100 hours
  • Advanced
  • 500-30,000

There are two types of glass you should think about installing in your home to provide extra protection— laminated glass and tempered glass.

Both are treated or coated to be sure they do not cause injury when they break. But, as with almost all materials that can be considered in home improvement, there are several pros and cons to think about.

Laminated Windows

stack of laminated glass sheets

Laminated glass windows are constructed by placing a thin layer of vinyl material between two layers of glass to create a thicker, stronger window.

Laminated windows are considered extremely safe as they do not shatter easily, nor do they break apart into large pieces that could be potentially fatal. It is for this reason that laminated glass is standard for vehicle windshields.

Such windows can be designed to protect from minor explosions or even bullets, and they are considered to be highly effective in preventing theft since they require a great deal of effort (and noise) to break.

For homes in highly noisy environments, laminated windows can also provide a high level of soundproofing and make for a quiet home interior.

Most of the drawbacks to laminated glass actually come from improper installation, so finding a good installer can obviously go a long way to ensuring laminated windows remain beneficial.

Since the noise reduction offered by these windows relies in large part on the air space between the two layers of glass, you must ensure they receive a professional installation if you want adequate soundproofing benefits from it.

Tempered Glass Windows

several sheets of tempered glass

Tempered glass windows are easier to break when compared to laminate windows because they don’t contain a coating to make them shatterproof.

Instead, the glass is tempered by either using chemicals or a special process where it is heated and then rapidly cooled several times so that when it breaks, it forms small granular particles instead of dangerous shards. As such, it’s often called “safety glass.”

Additionally, if tempered glass is shattered, the small granular particles it forms make it far easier to clean up than most anything else. These pieces can be easily and safely swept or vacuumed up for a quick turn-around when replacing the glass.

This type of window also tends to be less expensive than laminated windows but may need to be replaced more often, particularly if installed in a region prone to violent weather or vandalism. They are still much stronger than annealed glass, but still not as tough as the laminated variety.

Another thing to consider with tempered glass that works against it is once the glass has been strengthened, it cannot be cut easily or it might shatter. Thus, customization is very limited with these windows.

When looking to replace windows in your home with something stronger, both of these options are good to consider. Think about the characteristics of each type carefully to choose which will best suit your needs.