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What is Tempered Glass? Meaning, Strength, and Uses

Different levels of tempered glass thickness

Tempered glass — tough and resistant to scratch — is useful in many different sectors: the construction industry, commercial products, and even household appliances. But what is tempered glass and what makes it so strong and useful? Read this article to the end to find out. We have everything there’s to know about tempered glass explained.

What is Tempered Glass?

Tempered glass is used to mean a very tough type of glass that’s been strengthened in a furnace using heat, and that’s not easy to break. And when broken, it does in so in small rounded pieces instead of sharp pieces, which also makes it a safety glass. Here is why heat tempered glass is called so and the materials used to make it.

Tempered Glass Meaning

So what does tempered glass mean? Tempering means the process of strengthening or toughening a material. When used in the context of glass, it signifies the use of heat and specially controlled conditions to toughen ordinary glass — which is also called float glass — and make it hard to break among other properties.

What is Tempered Glass Made of?

You might be surprised that the tempered glass raw material is just ordinary glass, or the normal annealed glass that you often see and use. This is glass that’s made using these materials: sand (silicone dioxide), soda ash, and limestone as the main ingredients. During the tempering process, heat is use to make this glass hard, often without the need to add any other material.

Tempered glass display
Tempered glass display

What Does Tempered Glass Look Like?

Tempered glass looks like normal glass when viewed superficially using the eyes. When viewed from a polarizing glass, however, one can notice the many stress lines that distinguish from normal glass. Another way to identify tempered glass is by its smooth edges and finish.

That being said, tempered glass manufacturers will normally label their products with an authorization stamp. This makes the glass easy to identify. Besides the stamp, you may want to know if tempered glass has any distinct color or thickness. So does it?

Tempered Glass Color

Tempered is glass clear, with its clarity surpassing that of heat or chemically-strengthened types of glass. However, and depending on the application requirements— aesthetics or otherwise — this type of glass may be tinted or colored as required. Common tempered glass color options include bronze gray, blue and green.

How Thick is Tempered Glass?

As thick as per the application needs! Tempered glass thickness depends on its intended purpose. Because it can still break, the glass is thinner for less demanding environments and thicker when needed to withstand larger forces. The thickness of tempered glass typically ranges from 1/8’’ to about 1” or 3mm to around 25mm.

Different levels of tempered glass thickness
Different levels of tempered glass thickness

Tempered Glass Strength

Tempered glass is known for its incredible strength when compared to ordinary glass or other type of strengthened glasses. This is what makes it so versatile and useful in a broad range of settings, including the construction industry. That’s because it can stand up to higher greater loads or impact forces and temperature changes. But how strong is tempered glass and why is it so strong?

How Strong is Tempered Glass?

Very strong! When compared to ordinary glass (annealed glass), tempered glass is about 4-5 times stronger. In fact, tempered glass can withstand loads of up to about 24, 000 PSI before it can break.

Compare that to the strength of normal glass, which will break at around 6, 000 PSI, and you can see how strong tempered glass is. The strength of tempered glass allows it to excellently stand up to impact, scratch, and high heat levels.

Why is Tempered Glass Stronger?

The strength of tempered glass comes from the method used to make it: normal annealed glass is heated in a special furnace to temperatures exceeding 600° Celsius. This softens its entire structure. Its surface is then suddenly and quickly cooled, usually with the help of special air blasters.

As a result, the inside of the glass solidifies faster the outside. This causes it to pull on the outer, creating extreme tension between the two parts. These tensional forces are what toughen tempered glass to give it exceptional strength.

Can Tempered Glass Break?

While tempered glass is extremely hard and strong, it can still break. But that’s only if the force acting on it is too high than normal (and above 24, 000 PSI), or if the temperature is on the extreme side and above 350°C.

Such forces and heat levels are rare, especially when it comes to the common application situations for the material. Speaking of applications, where is tempered glass used? Continue reading to find out.

Broken tempered glass
Broken tempered glass

What is Tempered Glass used for?

After we’ve talked about its many characteristics and benefits, where is tempered glass required? The answer is anywhere where glass is needed but ordinary glass would not work. This makes tempered glass to have many uses, from household products to commercial and industrial usage needs. Common uses of tempered glass include the following.

Table Top

Due to its incredible strength, it’s usually preferred to use tempered glass for table tops. This can be a dinning or coffee table top, or any other type. Using tempered glass for coffee table top, dining, or any other type of table offers both aesthetic and safety benefits.


In the construction industry, the use of tempered glass for building doors and windows is common practice. This type of glass offers a material that can withstand knocks, the stress caused by strong winds, and temperature fluctuations. That’s in addition to the clear view that it allows from inside buildings, and the fact that it resists scratches.


When it comes to tempered glass applications in the automotive world, you will normally find it used on side or passenger windows and rear windscreens. Here, it offers safety benefits. In the event of an accident, the glass will break into small rounded and blunt pieces. It also makes the glass too hard for intruders to break.


Tempered glass, owing to its ability to withstand high level of heat without breaking, is often used to make cookware. You’ll also find it on the glass parts of kitchen appliances. In addition to the hardness advantage, using tempered glass for cooking ware and kitchen appliances provides for a surface that are easy to clean and, therefore, hygienic.


Tempered glass is a preferred material for making aquariums. Using tempered glass for aquarium walls and base construction means the following: a tough material that won’t break easily and a clear view of the inside space.

Other tempered glass uses include the construction of shower enclosures, glass railings, building partitions, basketball backboards, and more.

A fence made of tempered glass


Tempered glass is a kind of tough glass that can stand up to loads and impact forces or extreme temperature fluctuations. This glass also offers exceptional clarity and is often used where both clarity and strength are needed.

The many benefits of tempered glass make it a common material in many settings, from households and commercial settings to industrial facilities. In our next article, we take a look at how this type of glass is manufactured.

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