riot glass logo

AP100-BR-LV2

Ballistic Glazing - UL 752 Level 2

Learn More

AP125BR-LV6

Ballistic Glazing - UL 752 Level 6

Learn More

AP25

AR Polycarbonate Sheets

Learn More

AP375

Containment and Safety Glazing

Learn More

AP50BR

Ballistic Glazing - HPW Level A

Learn More

AP75BR-LV1

Ballistic Glazing - UL 752 Level 1

Learn More

ArmorPlast® Gen I Series


Learn More

ArmorPlast® Gen II Series


Learn More

ArmorPlast® IGU Series


Learn More

J Series

Ballistic & Forced Entry Grade Sub-framing

Learn More

RG2-LS

Ballistic Glazing UL 752 Level 2

Learn More

RG3-LS

Ballistic Glazing - UL 752 Level 3

Learn More

RG4-LS

Ballistic Glazing - UL 752 Level 4

Learn More

RG5-LS

Ballistic Glazing - UL 752 Level 5

Learn More

RG7-LS

Ballistic Glazing - UL 752 Level 7

Learn More
Our Solutions

Riot Glass® retrofit systems consist of custom-made security glass and framing designs that provide maximum protection against forced entry and ballistic threats.

view security solutions

Forced Entry

Virtually unbreakable retrofit solutions

Learn More

Bulletproof Protection

Ideal protection against active threats

Learn More

Hurricane & Windstorm

Great protection against storm damage

Learn More

Energy Efficiency

Sustainable, reliable and affordable Low-E solutions

Learn More

Blast Mitigation

Security window film to a complete retrofit

Learn More

Sound Attenuation

Window glazing ideal for blocking external noise

Learn More
Our Clientele

Riot Glass® can be used to secure any building. Virtually invisible yet nearly indestructible, it blends seamlessly in almost any existing window, door, or
storefront.

see more

Safety Glass Windows: What Are They Made of and How Do They Work?

Written By: Brad CampbellMarch 23, 2023

Safety glass windows are windows made of special glass that’s stronger and safer than standard window glass, or annealed glass.

Most of the time, what people are referring to when they talk about safety glass is tempered safety glass.

This is a special type of glass that’s designed to not only be stronger than annealed glass, but also much safer when it breaks apart, thereby reducing the risk of glass-related injury.

However, before you decide what type of safety glass windows are right for you and your property, it’s important to understand the limitations of tempered glass and know what alternatives might be better.

The Low-Down on Tempered Safety Glass Windows

How are tempered safety glass windows different from annealed glass windows?

Tempered glass windows actually start their lives out as sheets of annealed glass, but they undergo an additional heating and cooling process known as tempering.

During the tempering process, a sheet of glass is heated up in special tempering ovens to temperatures of over 1148° F (600° C).

The glass is then rapidly cooled using high-pressure air nozzles or, sometimes, a chemical cooling treatment.

This tempering process makes the glass about four to five times stronger than the original annealed glass, but that’s not the main effect of tempering.

The biggest change that tempering makes to glass has to do with the way it breaks.

When standard annealed windows break, they shatter apart unpredictably into large, sharp, jagged shards, which can quite easily cause serious injury to anyone who comes into contact with them.

hole through glass on red door window

Tempered safety glass windows, on the other hand, crumble apart into thousands of tiny, relatively harmless granular chunks of glass when broken.

This is what makes tempered glass a type of safety glass — it’s much less likely to cause injury to anyone nearby when it shatters than annealed glass is.

Tempered safety glass facts:

  • Starts as sheets of annealed glass
  • Sheets get heated up in tempering ovens that reach temperatures of 1148° F+
  • Glass is then rapidly cooled using high-pressure air or chemicals
  • Tempered glass is four to five times stronger than annealed glass
  • Tempered glass crumbles into granular pieces instead of shattering into shards

What are the best applications for tempered safety glass windows?

As we mentioned above, the main benefit of tempered safety glass windows is the way that they crumble harmlessly when broken, instead of shattering into sharp, jagged shards that can fly dangerously inwards.

Because of this, tempered safety glass is best used wherever human safety is a concern. In other words, it should be used wherever humans come into frequent close contact with glass surfaces that could potentially break.

Examples of tempered glass applications:

  • Passenger vehicle windows
  • Shower and tub enclosures
  • Glass appliances
  • Glass furniture
  • Architectural feature glass (stairways, railings, partitions, etc.)

Is tempered safety glass also good for security?

In addition to the applications listed above, tempered glass is also commonly used for things like storefront doors, windows, and display cases, to reduce the risk of glass-related injury should they accidentally get broken.

glass storefront

However, many commercial property owners also make the mistake of thinking that, because it’s stronger than annealed glass, tempered glass can be used to improve security and protect against threats like burglary and smash-and-grab theft.

The reality is that tempered glass can be broken incredibly easily, and it should never be relied upon as a security solution to prevent forced entry or protect against other threats.

All it takes is a few blows from a hammer, a bat, a crow bar, or another heavy hand tool to completely crumble a storefront window or display case made from tempered safety glass, and the intruders can then step right through and grab what they want.

In fact, intruders will probably be thankful for tempered glass during their break-ins, because they are much less likely to get hurt on their way in!

The Best Alternative to Tempered Safety Glass Windows When Security Is a Concern: Riot Glass®

What is Riot Glass®?

Riot Glass® is a line of 100% unique security glazing products that use specific formulations of polycarbonates, acrylics, other plastics, and security laminates to achieve a level of impact resistance and security that’s unmatched.

These security glazing shields use retrofittable framing adapters that allow them to be placed on top of, behind, or instead of almost any existing windows, creating a protective barrier that hardens commercial facilities against forced entry, burglary, and other common threats.

Riot Glass® defends businesses and commercial properties against:

  • Forced entry
  • Burglary
  • Smash-and-grab theft
  • Vandalism
  • Rioting and looting
  • Storm damage
  • Accidental impacts

Does Riot Glass® provide the same benefits as safety glass?

Wherever human safety is a concern, installing Riot Glass® is far better than using tempered safety glass windows.

Unlike tempered glass, which is designed to break, Riot Glass® is built to withstand repeated high-force impacts. This makes it the ideal all-in-one safety and security glass for businesses and commercial facilities of all types.

glass store front

Whether you’re worried about flying storm debris, forced entry attempts, or any other types of impacts that could break a window, Riot Glass® creates a virtually unbreakable barrier to protect your property and those inside.

Even if impacts do manage to crack Riot Glass® glazing shields, they won’t shatter dangerously inwards and they will continue to protect any existing glass behind.

How can I get Riot Glass® installed instead of safety glass windows?

As we mentioned, Riot Glass® is a retrofittable solution, meaning you don’t have to pull out and replace your property’s existing glass (unless you want to).

Riot Glass® is available in a wide variety of thicknesses and compositions, from 1/4” containment-grade, polycarbonate security glazing, to 1”+ ballistic-grade (bullet-resistant) glass-clad polycarbonate (GCP) models.

Whatever your safety and security needs are, we can help you find the right Riot Glass® product to meet your goals and budget. We can also work with your local glass contractor anywhere in the country to get Riot Glass® delivered and installed.

Contact us today for a free consultation!

Related Articles

HOW CAN WE HELP YOU?

Contact us

By clicking submit I agree to receiving marketing and promotional materials
riot glass logo
HQ & Tech Center

17941 Brookshire Lane
Huntington Beach, CA 92647
(800) 580-2303
info@riotglass.com

Manufacturing & Operations

1661 Glenlake Ave, Itasca, IL 60143

Interested in becoming a dealer?
Email us: info@riotglass.com

crosschevron-up linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram