Windows are typically the weakest point in any building: the only thing guarding the opening is a pane of glass, and glass is notoriously breakable. If you like the light and air a window affords but don't want to compromise on security, it may be worth your while to invest in laminated glass. Laminated glass consists of several glass panes-regular or specially strengthened-bonded together with a layer of plastic to enhance structural integrity and reduce breakability. Because of its durability, laminated glass is standard in car windshields, curtain walls, skylights, and prisons, but it's also become popular for windows and storm-door panels in private homes. Easy to install and available in a variety of designs, strengths, and shades, laminated glass lets you custom-glaze your home or your skyscraper for maximum protection.
It's easy enough for a burglar to smash a regular pane of glass and climb into your house, but if your window is made of laminated glass, that burglar will have a much harder time of it. Laminated glass can be designed to resist anything from a crowbar to a handgun to a bomb-and even if the glass does break, the fragments stay bonded together, so you don't have to worry about injuries from flying glass shards. With the world on high terror alert these days, bulletproof and blast-proof laminated glass can go a long way toward protecting civilians and their property from terrorist threats as well as petty crime.
It's not just humans who try to shatter your windows; hurricanes, earthquakes, and other natural disasters can really do a number on glass panes. Laminated glass has been known to stand up to gale-force winds, seismic activity, and flying debris-and again, even if it breaks, it doesn't shatter everywhere and add shrapnel to your list of problems. Laminated glass is also more fire-resistant than regular glass and can buy you valuable time in the event of a fire. It can also keep out the heat from a nearby blaze-a neighbor's house, for instance, or a forest fire. While standard laminated glass isn't necessarily fireproof, you can get special fire-resistant wired plate glass that can keep fire at bay for up to an hour. In large buildings that may take a long time to evacuate, fire-resistant glass can make all the difference.
For the energy-conscious, laminated glass can be a blessing. Regular windows let in a lot of heat and harmful ultraviolet rays. Low-E laminated glass panes can control the amount of heat and light coming in through the windows, so you save on cooling costs. You can also get special tinted glass to keep out UV rays and protect both you and your furniture from long-term UV damage.
In addition to security and energy applications, laminated glass has other advantages:
- Soundproofing and noise reduction. The thicker the glass, the harder it is for sound to come in. Double-pane laminated glass with an air gap in between the panes can effectively keep out noise from construction sites, blaring radios, or city traffic.
- Weather-resistance. Laminated glass, especially in a sealed frame, is excellent for keeping the elements outside where they belong.
- Aesthetics. As mentioned before, you can get laminated windows in a wide array of shapes, tints, and materials to fit the décor of your home or office. You can even get printed sheets glazed into your windows for a unique façade effect or an unusual conversation piece. With all the window styles available today, you don't have to give up aesthetics for security.
In short, laminated glass can give you the extra protection you need in your windows-be it from heat, housebreakers, or hurricanes-so you can sit back safely and just enjoy the view.