When a beautiful pane of standard glass breaks, it instantly transforms into many long, jagged shards. These knife-like pieces are very dangerous, which is why every Houston glass company must comply with the International Residential Code (IRC) when installing new glass in residences. The IRC says that tempered glass requirements must be followed in certain situations to lessen the possibility of injury from the shards.
What is Tempered Glass?
Tempered glass, also called safety glass, is created by heating sheets of glass until they are very hot. Then, the glass is cooled quickly. This tempered glass will crumble into small, rounded pieces if it is broken. The tempering process effectively eliminates the shards and reduces the chance for injury when a window breaks. The IRC has specific residential building codes regarding when Houston residential glass must be tempered for safety.
In fixed, swinging, sliding or bi-fold doors, all glass panels have to be made using tempered glass. Safety glass is mandatory within 24 inches of the door if the panel is less than 60 inches above the floor or pavement. Decorative glass or windows smaller than 3 square inches are exempt from this rule.
Any window that has a surface area greater than 9 square feet must be made from tempered glass if four other conditions are met.
- The bottom edge is less than 18 inches above the floor.
- The top edge is more than 36 inches above the floor.
- There is a walking area within 36 inches of the glass.
- The exposed glass surface is less than 60 inches above any walkway.
Builders are required to use safety glass next to stairways, ramps, and landings providing that the glass is less than 60 inches above the walkway. Tempered glass is also required if the surface is within 60 inches of the bottom tread of the stairway and if the glass is fewer than 60 inches higher than the nose of the bottom tread.
Due to the risk of slipping and falling in wet areas, all glass located in a bathroom or close to a sauna or hot tub must be safety glass if the bottom of the glass is less than 60 inches from the edge of the water and less than 60 inches above the walkway.
Give Northwest Glass and Mirror a call if you would like to talk about IRC regulations regarding the use of tempered glass. We can be reached at 281-463-7801. We will help you design a bathroom, doorway, stairway or sauna enclosure that meets IRC standards. We are also available for Houston commercial glass installations.