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What are Laminated Glass Windows?

By Adrien-Luc Sanders
Updated May 16, 2024
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Laminated glass windows are specially constructed windows used for both safety and soundproofing. They create a sandwich by layering vinyl material between two panes of glass, so that the vinyl is laminated on both sides by the glass. The extra layers and the vinyl material create a soundproofing effect. When used in building construction, laminated windows reduce noise that filters in from outside. They also help minimize damage should a window shatter. The layers and increased thickness improve durability, and at times can completely prevent impact breakage.

The majority of laminate processes use heat to bond the two layers of glass to the vinyl layer, to create laminated glass windows. The vinyl is invisible between between the layers, and the three pieces together behave the same as one sheet of glass. This denser layer not only provides additional strength, but creates a thicker barrier for sound waves to penetrate, resulting in the noise-filtering effect.

The design of laminated windows is similar to vehicle safety windows and windshields, and has the same effect in the event of damage or cracking. The vinyl between the two layers of glass acts as an adhesive. Should either the panes shatter, the shards stick to the vinyl rather than falling or flying in various directions. This can prevent injury from flying glass, or from contact with broken glass. This can also make replacing the broken window easier. Often laminated glass windows can be removed in one piece, with lower risk of injury.

Another safety benefit of laminated glass windows is security. Would-be burglars find the glass much more difficult to break due to its density, and the layered design is impervious to many glass-cutting devices. Even if the glass breaks, the vinyl material remains intact and acts as a difficult barrier to penetrate. While it is possible to break laminated windows, home invaders may not find it worth the effort.

The inner layer used in laminated glass windows can also be used for additional benefits. Depending on the material used or treatments applied to the inner layer, laminated windows can provide light-filtering or tinting capabilities. UV-blocking can cut down on direct sunlight and reduce interior heat, as can a color tint applied to the film. Filtering light and heat can avoid problems with furniture, curtains, and carpet fading from sun-bleaching, and can improve energy efficiency from reduced cooling needs during hot months. Color tints can be used additionally for decorative purposes.

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Discussion Comments

By MedicineBall — On Jul 29, 2011

@Almita - I thought about putting in a bay window, but still breaks up the view a lot. I really loved the sprawling view of my picture window -- I'm not sure I want to break it up with frames. Maybe if it was only split into a couple of window it would work.

Good point about the birds. I have sliding glass door leading to my backyard and my cat runs into it sometimes. I started hanging a translucent curtain on it – so now he just plays with that instead. He's the one who chased the bird into the window.

By Almita — On Jul 28, 2011

@MedicineBall - I agree with Calvin77, a lace curtain or something would save a few birds. Picture windows are great, but if they're clear enough for you to see perfectly, the birds can too. It's just like sliding glass doors -- people walk into them all the time. Luckily, the newer ones are safety glass, so you bounce off.

You might also consider changing to a bay window. Bay windows have a built in ledge to sit on and any of the little windows can be easily replaced if they get broken. With laminated glass, it's be a very peaceful place to read a book in the sun.

By Calvin77 — On Jul 28, 2011

@MedicineBall - Laminated glass is a type of safety glass -- so you can get safety and sound muffling together. Laminated windows are clear, so you might end up with another bird flying into it. Adding a lattice or maybe a lace curtain would help with the birds. The good news is that a laminated window isn't going to crack from it. I don't know about a BB though -- your son should probably avoid shooting metal cans near it.

Make sure that you tell whoever installs your new window that it isn't safety glass, just in case they don't notice right away. Better safe than sorry with glass like that.

By MedicineBall — On Jul 27, 2011

I have a giant old window in my dining room but it recently got cracked. My son was shooting his BB gun outside and a BB bounced off of a can and went straight into the window. It just caused a little ship at first, but when it froze the crack started growing.

To top it all off -- a bird flew into the side and the crack spread down the whole thing. I duct taped over it for now, but it looks ugly and isn't safe. The glass is not safety glass either.

I was going to replace it with safety glass, but I'm worried that it might get cracked again. So that brings me to a question: Is laminated glass just like safety glass and how does it do in cold weather?

It would be great if it muffled sound because my dining room window over looks a noisy area, but I don't want to give up using safety glass. Any help?

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