How Toughened Glass Works: And Why Your Bathroom Needs It

by Editor on May 3, 2013

Impey

If you’ve had a shower enclosure fitted in your bathroom in the last few years, chances are the door’s made out of toughened glass (also known as safety glass, or tempered glass). Nowadays, the majority of good-quality pivot shower enclosures use toughened glass because it’s safer and more reliable. But what exactly makes it different to normal glass?

Don’t Try This At Home

The main difference between toughened glass and normal glass is the way it disintegrates when broken.

The process used to create the safety glass gives it balanced internal stresses. This means that it won’t shatter across existing ‘stress lines’ like the untempered glass that used to be used in pivot shower doors.

So when a tempered glass door breaks, you don’t end up with sharp, jagged shards of glass which can easily cause injury. Instead, the glass smashes into many, many tiny pieces, which are less sharp than typical glass shards, and thus much less likely to injure anyone.

And, of course, it’s called ‘toughened glass’ for a reason. The toughened glass used in pivot shower enclosures today is stronger than traditional glass – perhaps ‘shatters-into-loads-of-tiny-pieces glass’ didn’t have the same ring to it.

How It’s Made

As we’ve seen, toughened glass is often called ‘tempered glass’, and it’s this name that gives us clues to its manufacturing method.

To create a piece of toughened glass, you start with a normal piece of glass, cut to shape. Then it’s tempered.

The tempering process involves heating the glass in a furnace to more than 600 degrees Celsius, then rapidly cooling it.

There are complicated reactions going on in the glass itself, but to cut a long story short, the glass ‘evens out’ its surface and internal stresses in an effort to deal with the sudden changes in temperature.

The result? Much stronger glass that’s perfect for pivot shower enclosures.

Why You Need It In Your Bathroom

We’ve look at the benefits of toughened glass in general, and the processes used to create it. But why is it so essential for the bathroom?

Well, the numerous benefits can be summed up in one word: Safety.

Imagine you slip whilst showering. A shower enclosure fitted with old-fashioned glass could spell disaster – you could fall through the glass door and injure yourself catastrophically.

If your enclosure’s fitted with toughened glass, though, you’re much less likely to break the glass when you fall. Not only is it stronger, but it’s often fitted with a special film so that, if it does break, the glass is less likely to fall out.

And if the worst does happen, and the glass does break, the tiny, granular pieces of glass are much less likely to cause further injury than the jagged shards associated with traditional glass.

The last word: if you’re looking for pivot shower enclosures, toughened glass is a must.

About the Author

Louisa Jenkins is a blogger with a passion for interior design. She regularly provides her words of wisdom on a number of features in the bathroom – ranging from double ended baths to pivot shower enclosures.

photo by: KBBNewsPics

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