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Thick Glass vs. Thin Glass

Since every glass type has unique purposes and benefits, choosing the best thickness is dependent on application, use case, finished product, and other factors.
Published December 07, 2021

Slabs of glass with text - Thick Glass vs. Thin Glass

Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in October 2016 and has been revised to reflect industry updates.  

When ordering custom glass products, one of the most frequently asked questions is: What type of thickness are you looking for? While it might seem thicker glass is better because it’s stronger, the answer is actually dependent on the application, use case, and finished product.

Because each glass type has its own unique purposes and benefits, there are several considerations when choosing optimal  thickness levels. 

While thick glass is stronger than thin glass, boasts more pronounced edges, and is less likely to bow or warp under stress—there’s still a trade-off. The former is heavier and more expensive than the latter, so its robust composition may not be appropriate for certain projects. Lighter, thinner glass is the preferred material in certain situations.

Below we’ll discuss thickness ranges, differences, specific applications, and more. 

Glass Thickness Ranges & Suitable Applications

Before deciding on required thickness levels, let’s first examine specified ranges with suggested applications:

  • 1/8 Inch (3mm): Frames, Insulated Windows & End Tables
  • 3/16 Inch (5mm): Tabletops, Display Cases & Shelving
  • 1/4 Inch (6mm):Tabletop Covers, Single-Pane Windows, Display Shelves & Shower Doors
  • 3/8 Inch (10mm); 1/2 Inch (12mm): Shower Doors, Tabletops, Walls, Partitions & Railings
  • 5/8 Inch (16mm): Shower Doors, Walls, Partitions & Railings
  • 3/4 Inch (19mm): Shower Doors, Storefronts, Tabletops & Flooring
  • 1 Inch (25mm): Tabletops, Museum Exhibits, Counters & Reception Desks

What products require thick glass?

Commonly used in tabletops, museum exhibits, counters, and reception desks, the highest thickness level for tempered glass measures 1 inch, maximum. Thick-tempered glass is also suited for retail stores, food services, and other industries requiring sturdy, transparent displays. 

Thicker glass cuts are preferable for frameless, UV-bonded vitrines, display cases, hoods, and cubes. The thicker the edge, the more surface area available for UV-bonding glass to glass. Many commercial interior glass applications, such as modular walls, also require thicker glass to withstand high stress.

Architects and designers with high-end retail clients typically request ⅜-inch and ½-inch glass for low-iron retail fixtures, UV-bonded jewelry cases, or modular office walls.

Glass is also typically thicker around areas with high stress levels, such as an ice hockey arena. This application requires thickness of between ½ and ⅝ inches—anything lower could lead to cracking and warping.

Is thick glass harder to break?

In short, yes. While thicker glass can withstand higher stress levels and so-called “smash-and-grab” scenarios, it can still break if improperly tempered, or during inappropriately placed and drilled holes and notches. To ensure correct processes,  review our blog “Glass Tempering Guidelines: 5 FAQs,” or download our handy Tempering Guidelines checklist.

What products require thin glass?

The thinnest piece of glass to withstand tempering is 1/8-inch thick. Because its delicate structure makes it more susceptible to breakage, it won't work for every application or product. Although retail stores boast fixtures crafted from thicker glass, many designers opt for the most popular option—1/4-inch glass—when planning display cases, counters and vitrines.

A reputable glass fabricator can help with project characteristics to ensure the appropriate glass thickness for your project.

 

What are some advantages of thin glass?

Thin glass is lighter, sustainable, and economical, and its low weight and other efficiencies equate to lower freight and shipping costs. These characteristics also position thin glass for use in the solar, architecture, and automotive industries, among others. 

 

Choosing the Best Glass Thickness

When determining the optimal glass thickness for your application and project, it’s best to consult with a reputable, experienced, and knowledgeable fabricator such as Dillmeier Glass Company.


Dillmeier Glass Company can create custom glass products with the dimensions and thickness you need for your application. Contact us today to learn how we can assist with your next commercial interior glass project. 

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