No one knows exactly when people first began to use glass. Currently, physical proof of the use of this material can be traced back to around 3100 BC in ancient Egypt. 

The glass-making process has undoubtedly changed a lot since the techniques used by our early ancestors. Today, modern technology has made it possible to create many different types that you can choose from to fit a variety of purposes.

A common question that we encounter during our free consultations is regarding the difference between tempered and regular glass.

Learning more about how they are made and their various uses help you understand why we recommend each type.

What Makes the Two Types Different?

Both regular and tempered glass are made with similar materials. Sand, recycled materials, soda ash and limestone, are used to make the panes that we put into windows and doors today.

The main difference between the two types comes down to the manufacturing processes that are used. Regular glass is created using an annealing process that involves heating the materials to the stress relief point. Then, the molten materials are allowed to cool at a controlled rate that allows for some degree of strength.

Tempered glass goes through an additional processing technique. A finished piece of regular glass is taken through another step of being heated to an extremely high temperature. 

Once this is complete, the pane is then cooled with high pressured air from nozzles that hit specific parts of the surface. This process is called quenching. The rapid change from hot to cold temperatures strengthens the outer surface of the pane.

What Are the Benefits of Standard Glass?

The most obvious benefit of choosing the standard option is the price. Since it only has to go through one process, this type tends to be less expensive. 

Standard panes are softer and capable of being reworked. This allows for us to do customized edges and other types of reshaping that give glass tabletops and shelves a unique look.

When is Tempered Glass Better?

You’ll want to use this type anywhere that extra strength is required. Tempered panels are ideal in bathrooms where slippery surfaces increase the risk of personal injuries from broken glass. 

Since this type breaks into smaller, less sharp pieces, it is considered safer than the regular kind.

These are also important for use in windows and doors that sit close to the ground surface. In some cases, local building codes and ordinances require tempered glass to be used.

How Can You Tell Them Apart?

The average person might find it hard to tell the difference between the two types at first glance. 

Upon close inspection, you might notice that tempered glass has smoother edges and slight imperfections in the surface due to the intense heating process the materials go through. Fortunately, any surface distortions are mostly imperceptible.

The easiest way to tell the difference is to look for a small stamp that is etched close to the edge. This stamp in tempered glass gives the manufacturer’s name and lets you know that it meets the CPSC standards.

Keep in mind that it might be hidden by framing and decorative accents that are added during installation. Working with a reputable glass installer lets you be certain that you have the right type of glass in your home or commercial building.

There are many factors to consider when choosing between these two types. Your budget, along with the area where the glass is to be placed are the two biggest indicators of which direction to go. 

As always, remember that safety comes first when it comes to glass placement. We can help you stay in compliance with local building codes while also making sure that your selection works beautifully for your needs.