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  • Paulo Ferreira

What is the difference between Float Glass, Toughened Glass and Laminate Glass?

Updated: Apr 21, 2020

We, at Prism Glass, have worked with many different types of glass, partition systems, glazing track and balustrades available in construction. It is essential to understand the different types of glass available, especially from a safety and application perspective. In this article, we look at what the differences are between Float Glass, Toughened Glass and Laminate Glass.

Float Glass

Float Glass (also called Annealed Glass) is used as a base product to produce other types of glass such as Toughened Glass or Laminated Glass. It is manufactured by allowing the molten glass to cool slowly in a controlled environment. Once produced, float glass is cut to the required size, before undergoing further manufacturing processes such as tempering.

Float glass if broken, will shatter into sharp-edged shards. Thus, for safety reasons, special care should be taken when considering using this product. Usually, this glass is suited for smaller applications such as cabinet glass doors, basement windows, tabletops, mirrors and more. Float glass is relatively cheap in comparison to other glass types such as Toughened glass.

Toughened Glass

Toughened Glass is also known as tempered glass or more commonly called safety glass. It's probably the most common type of glass used in glass partitioning. This glass is manufactured using a thermal tempering process, resulting in the glass becoming four to five times stronger and structurally more durable than annealed glass.

It is also safer than annealed glass when broken. Toughened Glass breaks into small chunks or bits of glass, rather than sharp-edged shards that are more likely to cause injury. This characteristic of "crumbling" to smaller pieces when broken is a result of the tension created using different cooling rates between the surface and interior of the glass sheet during manufacture. For more information about Toughened Glass spontaneous breakage, please see our Spontaneous Glass Breakage article.

Toughened Glass cannot be cut after it has been manufactured, it must be cut to size before the toughening process. Thus the glass must be measured accurately before manufacturing to avoid costly wastage. Due to the additional manufacturing processes, Toughened Glass is more expensive than Float Glass.

Toughened and annealed glass break
Above: Toughened Glass break VS Float Glass (Annealed Glass) break.

Laminated Glass

Laminate Glass is made of two sheets (or more) of glass, usually Toughened Glass. The sheets are laminated or bonded together using a plastic interlayer. Laminate glass is available in various thicknesses, and different combinations of glass can be used to create a laminated glass panel.

The interlayer helps keep the glass panel together as one, even when broken. As a result, there is reduced risk of injury due to broken glass. Due to its strength and durability, laminated glass can be used for glass floors, glass balustrades, external glass in areas with a high risk of natural disasters such as hurricanes and security reasons.

Laminate Glass also significantly improves sound reduction when a suitable sound interlayer is used - called Acoustic Glass (Acoustic Glass uses the same production principles as Laminated Glass). Laminate Glass is more expensive than Toughened Glass. For more information see: Acoustic glass partitions - what you need to know.

There are many other types of glass, such as Fire Rated or Fire Resistant Glass. It is essential that the glass you choose not only achieves your required budget but also achieves the results you want and meets building regulation and safety requirements.

If you need help in deciding what glass to order and install or if you need a free no-obligation glass install quote, please write to us today: or call 0208 947 8428. If you would like to see examples of our glass installation projects, please visit our projects page.

About the writer: Paulo Ferreira has extensive experience in project management and worked at Prism Glass for two years, where he managed glass installation projects and day to day operations. He also has extensive experience in financial services. His skills include graphic design, branding, content marketing and blogging.

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