Houston Commercial Glass: Plexiglass vs. Safety Glass

Whether you’re looking for Houston commercial glass for your storefront windows or for glass shelving for merchandise, it’s important to know your options. Safety glass and plexiglass are popular options for a huge range of commercial applications. In this article, we’ll discuss the difference between safety glass and plexiglass as well as the pros and cons for each.

What is the Difference Between Plexiglass and Safety Houston Commercial Glass?

piece of Houston commercial glass with water droplets on it
Our team can help you choose the right type of Houston commercial glass for your building.

You’ve probably heard of plexiglass and safety glass before, but what’s the real difference? After all, all these options are tougher than standard glass that is easy to break.

First of all, plexiglass isn’t glass at all. Instead, it’s made out of clear acrylic, which is a type of plastic. Plexiglass, also known as acrylic glass, is usually formed into sheets by heating up the plastic which helps soften it. Once it cools down, it hardens into a hard, clear sheet that looks similar to glass. 

Safety glass can mean one of two things: either the glass is tempered or it’s laminated. Both of these options help strengthen the glass. Tempered glass is made stronger than normal glass typically by heating it up and quickly cooling it down. You can also make tempered glass by soaking glass sheets in special chemicals, though this is a more expensive and therefore less popular process. Laminated glass is actually two or more pieces of glass with a hard plastic layer sandwiched between them to provide added strength and stability. 

Which One is Better for My Building?

Now you know the difference between plexiglass and safety glass, you might wonder which one is better. Of course, this really depends on where you’re using it. Each option has its pros and its cons. Your Houston glass company can help you decide which one will be better for your specific needs and budget. 

In general, plexiglass is going to be a little less expensive than safety glass, weighs much less, and can also help reduce glare. It’s also incredibly strong, taking about 10,000 pounds of pressure per square inch (psi) to shatter. Compare this to annealed glass you might find in your home’s windows, which takes about 6,000 psi to shatter. When it does break, it does so in small, round pieces to help prevent injuries. However, it’s also important to note that plexiglass is more vulnerable to scratching, particularly if you use the wrong cleaning products or tools. 

Tempered glass is a strengthened Houston commercial glass option that you might choose for your building. This type of glass takes between 10,000 and 24,000 psi to shatter. Therefore, tempered glass and plexiglass have similar strength to resisting force. It’s much less likely to scratch compared to plexiglass and also breaks into round pieces. However, it’s also much heavier than acrylic glass, which can make it more difficult to transport and install. 

Laminated glass takes about 9,400 psi to break, and the special plastic inner layer helps keep the glass together to stop it from shattering when hit with enough force. If you’ve ever seen a shattered windshield, you’ll know what we mean. The glass will typically stay in place even after cracking, which makes it a great solution for high security areas. 

Solutions from our Industry-Leading Houston Glass Company

Need glass? Our experts at Northwest Glass & Mirror are here to provide you with the solutions you need! We’re a full-service glass company in Houston. Whether you need tough glass for your store’s windows or are looking for Houston residential glass options to help beautify your home, our team can help you replace, install, restore, or repair all types of glass. We’re proud to have been serving the greater Houston area since 1978 by providing outstanding craftsmanship and service. Call us now at (281) 463-7801 for more information and a free quote!