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Is toughened glass necessary?

Wednesday 2nd November, 2016

The clue’s in the name when it comes to safety glass. Whether it’s toughened glass or laminated glass, the number one priority when specifying safety glass for a project has to be the level of risk to safety.

Standard float glass can be pretty strong if it’s thick enough. But if it happens to break, the razor-sharp shards of glass left behind can pose a serious threat to anyone unlucky enough to be near them!

Toughened glass isn’t unbreakable but is around four or five times stronger than standard annealed glass. If it does break, it shatters in its entirety, crumbling into small pebbles that can be easily and safely cleaned up.

When to specify toughened glass

To make the decision over when to specify toughened glass easier (and homes and commercial properties safer), Building Regulations have some pretty specific guidelines.

The regulations are based on the level of risk that someone (especially, although not exclusively, small children) could fall through a particular pane of glass. That risk is generally based around the height of the glazing.

The diagram below outlines Building Regulations with regards to safety glass.


Any pane of glass partly or wholly less than 800mm from floor level should be safety glass (generally toughened glass is specified over laminated glass due to cost). Glass in doors below a 1500mm threshold should be toughened glass, and any glazing within 300mm of a doorway should also be toughened glass up to a height of 1500mm.

So in the diagram above, windows A, C, D, E and F would all need to be toughened glass, while panes B and G could be standard annealed.

The regulations would also cover things like glass balustrades and glass partitions, due to their height from the ground.

Other factors to consider

As well as the risk of someone falling into a pane of glass, another factor to consider when specifying toughened glass is the proximity to heat.

Glass splashbacks in kitchens are required to be made of toughened glass if they are behind a heat source, such as a hob, as exposing standard annealed glass to rapid changes in temperature can cause it to break. Reputable glass suppliers like Tufwell Glass recommend all glass splashbacks are made from toughened glass anyway, to ensure durability and strength.

If you have a glass project in the pipeline and would like advice from the experts and a competitive quote, get in touch with Tufwell Glass.

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