Windshield Glass: Tempered vs. Laminate – What Are the Differences?

tempered vs laminate windshield glass

Not all glass is created equal. In fact, there are two common types of glass that are found in the safety category for various uses, like automobiles for example. The two main break-resistant glasses are tempered and laminate. In order to choose the right one for each specific application, it is important to fully grasp their differences. 

Tempered Glass

Tempered glass is a type of safety glass that is manufactured through heat or chemicals to strengthen it. It is called tempered glass because the process of using heat is actually called tempering and makes the glass up to four times stronger than other types of annealed glass that are the same size and thickness.

In addition to strength, tempered glass is popular because it can bend much further and easier than others without breaking. It also is known to be wind resistant, and if successfully broken, it shatters into small round cubes, rather than sharp and pointy shards. Tempered glass is often used for auto glass, as well as skyscrapers, and computer and phone screens.

Laminated Glass

Laminated glass, as the name suggests, is two or more panes of glass adhered together by a layer of plastic or polyvinyl butyral (PVB), almost as if being laminated. It can be best described as a laminated glass layered cake, i.e., glass, plastic, glass, plastic, glass, and so on. 

Laminated glass has the benefit of protection from UV radiation and has soundproofing qualities. Additionally, the plastic layer can be clear or tinted, depending on preference and use. More than anything, however, laminated glass is most popular because if broken, the pieces of glass will stick to the plastic layer, rather than falling to the floor or worse - a driver’s face or body. In addition to windshields, laminated glass is often used for skylights and glass floors, railings, and facades.

Tempered vs. Laminated Glass

Although both tempered and laminated glass is used in automobile vehicles, they serve different purposes. Because tempered glass cannot be repaired, laminated glass is preferred for windshields and tempered is used for rear and passenger seat windows. Both types of safety glass were developed in the early 1900s. Laminated glass was patented for vehicles in 1909 after two women were severely injured by glass debris after an automotive accident.

When in doubt, it is best to ask a Glass America professional. During a consultation, your technician will be able to determine the type of glass needed for the specific make and model of your vehicle. No matter what, your vehicle will be getting the most durable safety glass possible!
Contact your local Glass America today!