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Glass railing is an environmentally friendly option. Glass is recyclable and chemically inert, making it an environmentally friendly choice for railing construction. While iron and other metals can oxidize and emit harmful substances over time, glass is completely safe for long-term use in your home or business. Glass railing adds openness, makes spaces feel larger, and allows for better light flow. It adds luxury and value to a home while also being extremely safe and functional when designed and installed correctly.
There are four main glass types mentioned when considering a glass railing system: plexiglass, annealed glass, tempered glass, and laminated glass. Plexiglass is a clear, plastic-based sheet that is frequently used to save money and take advantage of its flexibility. When looking for a glass railing, you may come across the term annealed glass, but this is a softer type of glass that is not suitable for safe use.
Tempered glass, also known as toughened glass, is the most common type of glass railing. It is made by strengthening glass through a heating and quenching process. Finally, laminated glass is the crowning achievement of any glass railing. It is made up of two tempered panels joined together by a middle vinyl layer, resulting in a panel with unparalleled strength.
Tempered glass aka toughened glass, is 4x stronger than annealed glass with the same thickness and configuration. Tempered glass deforms into small fragments when broken, reducing the possibility of serious injury when compared to annealed glass. Tempered glass complies with all safety glazing standards, including the federal safety glazing standard, CPSC 16 CFR, because it fractures into many small pieces and tends to vacate the opening more than heat-strengthened and annealed glass.
Laminated glass is a versatile glazing material that can be used in a wide range of applications. Under heat and pressure, two or more liters of glass are permanently bonded with layers of polyvinyl butyral interlayer to form a single construction.
Annealing is the process of slowly cooling glass after it has been formed to relieve internal stress. Internal tension will remain if it is not slowly cooled, making it unstable and prone to breakage. The process is carried out in a Lehr, which is a temperature-controlled kiln. When exposed to a small temperature change or mechanical shock, unannealed glass is prone to cracking or shattering. Annealed glass is frequently used in windows. It is not classified as safety glass. When broken, it produces shards with sharp edges and points that can cause serious injuries.
Heat-strengthened glass is designed for general glazing applications where additional strength to withstand wind load and thermal stress is required. Heat-strengthened glass does not require the resilience of fully tempered glass and is aimed at applications where a safety glass product is not required.
If you want a strong and break-resistant glass railing, tempered glass is the way to go. Laminated glass, on the other hand, is ideal for flexibility, UV resistance, and sound absorption. Contact us if you need outdoor or indoor glass railings.