Tempered glass is stronger than your regular annealed glass, but also more expensive. It’s still better to use in specific places, rather than all across your home in general.
But where exactly should you use it? Where is your money best spent in providing extra safety for your family?
(If you missed out on the first part of this set, you might want to check out Tempered Glass 1: Tempered Glass Can Save Your Life. It has the basic information on the material)
The National Building Code of the Philippines (NBCP) and the International Residential Code (IRC) have their prescriptions. NBCP though is sprinkled with errors and apparent contradictions. Both are written in code-speak, that strange dialect you almost need an androgynous priestess to decipher. So they’re not exactly the easiest documents to read.
Hopefully the simplification and illustrations below are easier to understand.
In general you’ll want to temper large glass panes that stand to get accidentally hit, or are located in places where they’ll tend to take more abuse. These are considered hazardous areas and include:
Glass in doors
It doesn’t matter if it’s all glass or in a wood or aluminum frame, if it’s a swing door, a bifold or the moving or fixed parts of a sliding door, it all has to be tempered.
Exceptions are made in the IRC for decorative glass and for panels too small for a 75mm (3 inch) diameter ball to pass through. The NBCP makes an exception for glass that’s less than 1.5 square meters in size, which means roughly 700mm wide for a 2100mm tall door.
Glass around doors
Look for panes within a 600mm or 2 feet arc of either side of a closed door if the bottom of the glass is within 1500mm or 5 feet from the floor. Think of it as the need to protect glass from door slamming, or break-ins.
Exceptions are made for decorative glazing, or if there is an intervening wall between the glass and the door.
Glass in windows
Large windows are better tempered, but it technically only becomes a requirement if all conditions are met:
If the exposed area is greater than .84 square meters or (~9 square feet)
AND the bottom edge is less than 450mm (~18 inches) from the floor
AND the top edge is greater than 900mm (~36 inches) above the floor
AND it’s as as close as 900mm (~36 inches) from the nearest walkway.
In actual terms, this covers floor to ceiling windows with a width of 350mm or wider, or sitting ledge-to-ceiling windows wider than 500mm. (You can have the windows a little bit wider if they only reach a height of 2100mm or about the height of a standard door.)
Exceptions are made for decorative glazing, or if there’s a railing between the walkway and the glass.
Glazing in guards and railings.
If it’s an all glass rail, you better be sure that you’re tempering it.
Glazing next to stairways and ramps
Look for where the bottom of the glass is at least 1500mm from the floor, and 900mm horizontally from the walkway, or within 1500mm from the bottom of a stairway landing. Think of it as situations where you could possibly trip. It’s dangerous enough to be afraid of breaking your neck or your hip, you shouldn’t have to worry about giant shards of broken glass too.
Exceptions are made for glass 450mm behind a guard or railing.
Glass in wet areas
Basically, it covers anywhere you’d be likely to slip and accidentally shove your hand or your head through a pane of glass: within 1500mm or 5 feet of showers, or pools, or saunas where the bottom of the glass is 1500mm or 5 feet from the floor.
This includes shower partitions, windows, and even mirrors if they don’t have a solid backing.
While not exactly in-danger of accidental human impact, skylights still pose a hazard in breakage. As per the IRC, a minimum of heat strengthened or fully tempered glass should work perfectly fine. Laminated glass is safer though, as it shouldn’t leave a gaping hole in your ceiling if things should happen to break.
Other Areas Worth Considering
You might want to extend the logic of hazardous areas to other uses outside of the code as well. Just think of where else it might be as pain in the butt for glass to break.
Consider tempered glass for –
- Framed Tabletops
- Display cases and glass shelves
- Large Overhead lighting fixtures and chandeliers
- Large home aquariums
Law and Enforcement and the Philippines
The codes give you a good idea of where to spend extra to keep your family safe. Having made the decision, you still need to make sure that it’s applied as it should.
As with everything in the Philippines, regulations are treated like suggestions. Some suppliers may be less scrupulous than others and it’s worth understanding the realities and keeping to best practices to make sure you’re getting the protection you deserve.
What are these Philippine realities and best practices when it comes to dealing with tempered glass in the country? Check in next week to find out.
Quick Questions, or have your own stories of running into glass doors?
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