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Thick Glass vs. Thin Glass

Thick glass is stronger than thin glass, but it may not be right for every glass fabrication project.
Published October 20, 2016

Thick Glass vs. Thin Glass

When you're ordering custom glass products, you’ll often be asked: What type of thickness are you looking for? You might think that the thicker the glass the better it is because it's stronger, but it really depends on what the finished product is going to be.

First, let’s look at a range of thickness:

  • 1/8” (3mm)
  • 3/16” (5mm)
  • 1/4” (6mm)
  • 3/8” (10mm)
  • 1/2” (12mm)
  • 5/8” (16mm)
  • 3/4" (19mm)
  • 1” (25mm)

Each type of glass thickness has its own purposes and its own benefits.

Thick glass is definitely stronger than thin glass. It comes with more pronounced edges, and it's less likely to bow or warp under stress. But there is a trade-off. Thick glass is heavier and more expensive than thin glass, so its robust composition may not be the right choice for certain projects. Sometimes, lighter glass is the preferred material instead.

What products require thick glass?

The thickest glass you can temper is 1” glass, which is commonly used in table tops, museum exhibits, counters and reception desks. Thick-tempered glass can also be used for retail stores and food services where the products are showcased and sturdiness is required. Thicker glass is prefered for frameless, UV-bonded glass for vitrines, jewelry cases, hoods and cubes because the thicker glass edge has more surface area for UV-bonding glass to glass. Many interior glass applications, such as modular walls, also require thicker glass because it won't bend under stress.

To bring their ideas to life, architects and designers with high-end retail clients typically request 3/8” and 1/2" glass for custom, low-iron retail fixtures, UV-bonded jewelry cases or modular office walls.

But that’s not all thick glass is used for.

Ever notice the glass at a hockey rink? It's usually 1/2" thick glass because it must withstand a lot of stress in this type of arena without cracking. Another common choice is 5/8" thick glass.

What products require thin glass?

The thinnest piece of glass that can be tempered is 1/8” thick. But its delicate nature makes it more susceptible to breakage so it won't work for some projects. For example, although retail stores are filled with fixtures crafted from thicker glass, many designers opt for 1/4" glass—which is still thin, but stronger—when they're choosing glass for display cases, counters and vitrines. In general, glass 1/4" thick is the most popular option.

As long as you consider their characteristics carefully, you’ll be able to choose which glass thickness is just right for the project you’re working on.


The Dillmeier Glass Company specializes in commercial interiors and creates custom glass products of various thicknesses. If you're looking for a glass fabrication company to work with on your next project, contact us today.

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