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Tempered Glass vs. Plexiglass: Which Is the Most Cost-Effective COVID-19 Workplace Solution?

Lower costs, quicker and easier production, and other long-term benefits make tempered glass a more efficient workplace solution than plexiglass for businesses adapting to a COVID-19 world.
Published June 03, 2020

Tempered Glass vs. Plexiglass: Which Is the Most Cost-Effective COVID-19 Workplace Solution? - Text GraphicAs the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to threaten the health and safety of people worldwide, the federal government and state and local municipalities across the United States are mandating new workplace requirements with phased-in reopenings. To effectively protect employers, employees, and clients, designers and architects must now rethink commercial office layouts with these measures in mind.

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Tempered glass and plexiglass dividers and partitions have consequently pivoted toward personal protective equipment (PPE) applications in compliance with U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) social distancing mandates and other regulations.  

There’s common misconceptions surrounding these two materials, however, among these, that plexiglass costs less, is quicker to implement, and stronger than tempered glass. 

These statements couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Plexiglass has become less available, its prices have increased, and perhaps most importantly, COVID-19 survives longer on it than tempered glass. 

Below we’ll explain why tempered glass is more cost effective, longer lasting, and more expeditiously produced than plexiglass.

Pricing-Comparison-Tempered-Glass-much-cheaper-than-Plexiglass?noresizeTempered Glass - $5.00/sq. ft. $150-200/installation | Plexiglass - $10/sq. ft. $300-500/installation

 

Pricing

COVID-19 is increasing demand for plexiglass due to its perception as a quick and effective way to retrofit the workplace with protective barriers. The material has been touted as a cheaper alternative to tempered glass.

As we mentioned earlier, however, this simply isn’t the case

Glass prices have leveled off throughout the last several years. Plexiglass has become more expensive, especially recently, as business owners search for ways to combat COVID-19.  

Giancarlo Lanzano, executive vice president at Mt. Vernon, N.Y.-based commercial construction firm DGC Capital Contracting, recently told Fox Business News that plexiglass prices have skyrocketed 500 to 600 percent since the pandemic, with companies eyeing other options, such as tempered glass. 

Peter Smuda, Director of Architectural Solutions at Core Office Interiors, an interiors solutions provider and Dillmeier Glass partner with locations in Houston, and Austin, Texas, says those plexiglass requests are accompanied by substantial sticker shock. 

“All of the numbers seemed high in comparison to glass,” he says. “I thought, ‘Hold on a minute, this is really high compared to the glass I have been quoting for years.’ It was double, if not more.”

The eight-year glass industry veteran, says a quick calculation proves glass to be the more affordable and beneficial alternative. 

Standard plexiglass prices are typically $10 per square foot. But with the high demand of plexiglass, costs can be upwards of $30 per square foot.

“A 2-foot plexiglass panel was priced at $30 a square foot [without any edging, polishing, etc.],” explains Smuda. “Even with the cheapest glass option with related customizations, you’ll pay less than you would with plexiglass.”

“Just a sheet of tempered glass can start at $5.00 per square foot,” he continues. “Customizations and glass thickness will add to that number, but it will still be less than plexiglass.”

Durability & Long-Term Benefits

A typical plexiglass installation at a supermarket check out runs approximately $300 to $500. This is also similar for office workplaces. 

“Just a sheet of tempered glass can start at $5.00 per square foot. Customizations and glass thickness will add to that number, but it will still be less than plexiglass."

Tempered glass costs around $150 to $200, lasts longer, and has a long list of other advantages. 

“People think plexiglass is a lower price [than glass] but the reality is the opposite,” explains Smuda. “It looks better, costs less, is easier to clean, and the virus doesn’t last as long on it.” 

 

Lead Times

Many plastics distributors are experiencing challenges obtaining plexiglass, with some companies reportedly experiencing six-week delivery backlogs

Working with a U.S.-based commercial glass fabricator such as Dillmeier Glass ensures expeditious deliveries to meet any project deadline or COVID-19-related specification. 

Plexiglass has become less available, its prices have increased, and perhaps most importantly, COVID-19 survives longer on it than tempered glass.

Smuda says most Dillmeier Glass shipments arrive at Core's offices within seven to 10 days. 

Dillmeier Glass Company

Learn more about how we can work together to transform workplace environments and safeguard team members and clients in a COVID-19 world.


Contact us for a free quote and assistance on customizing a tempered glass divider or partition solution for your business or project.

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