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The Difference Between Tempered and Ceramic Glass


 Feb 1, 2022    Fireplace Doors

The Difference Between Tempered and Ceramic Glass

When looking for new doors for your wood stove and fireplace, you’ll commonly come across two different types of glass options – tempered and ceramic. It’s important to know there’s a big difference between tempered and ceramic glass doors and what they’re each used for.

Finding the right type of glass for your wood stove, fireplace and other appliances can be a confusing and overwhelming process. To help give you a better idea of what to look for when shopping online for your wood stove glass door or fireplace replacement glass, we’re breaking down the difference between tempered and ceramic glass.

What Is Tempered Glass? 

Tempered glass is a type of glass that has been either chemically treated or heat-treated to reinforce and strengthen an otherwise ordinary glass panel. The strength of tempered glass panels separates them from standard panels. Tempered glass is capable of withstanding nearly four times the normal amount of pressure as untreated glass panels. Ordinary glass breaks at about 6,000 pounds per square inch (PSI) whereas tempered glass can withstand up to 24,000 PSI of pressure.

infographic for facts about tempered glass

How Is Tempered Glass Made? 

To create a reinforced tempered glass panel capable of withstanding more pressure and higher temperatures, glass panels are heated to over 600 degrees before they’re rapidly cooled. The cooling process, also known as quenching, is typically performed using specialized air nozzles aimed at the panels from various angles. 

This extreme heating and cooling process is known as tempering, and it applies to other everyday materials such as steel and cast iron. With glass, tempering is used to reduce the hardness of the material while creating compression. The result is a reinforced glass panel that is much more capable of withstanding pressure, high temperatures and fluctuations in temperature. 

Since the high temperatures radiating from your fireplace or wood-burning stove are enough to break an ordinary piece of glass in a matter of minutes, tempered glass is all the more important for your fireplace doors and other hearth accessories. But tempering isn’t enough to create glass doors capable of withstanding the intense, direct heat of wood-burning stoves and certain types of heat-producing fireplaces, leading to a need for a more diverse type of glass. And this is where ceramics come into play.

What Is Ceramic Glass? 

Ceramic glass is referred to as a “glass” but it’s not glass in the true sense. Instead, the glass used in your wood stove door is a transparent ceramic. Modern ceramic glass as we know it, also called PyroCeram, was invented in 1952 by Dr. S Donald Stookey, a scientist at the Corning cookware corporation. And like many of humanity’s greatest inventions, ceramic glass was discovered by accident as Dr. Stookey was attempting to precipitate silver. Corning quickly realized they had an extremely tolerant, fireproof glass material capable of withstanding extreme temperatures, and soon ceramic glass was introduced into everyday American life.

Since glass ceramics are capable of easily withstanding high temperatures up to 1400 degrees, it’s an ideal material for making a range of household products.

How Is Ceramic Glass Made?

Ceramic glass is formed in a two-step process that differs slightly from ordinary glass making by introducing a special nucleating agent to the raw materials used to make glass. The special nucleating agent promotes crystallization in the glass, and the result is a material that has properties similar to glass but with the heat-resistant capabilities of ceramic.

However, this doesn’t make ceramic glass the default best choice for all of your wood-burning fireplace glass doors. It’s still important to know which type of glass you need for your appliances as well as your other fireplace and wood stove accessories.

infographic for facts about ceramic glass

Finding the Right Type of Glass for Your Fireplace or Wood Burning Stove

wood stove windowIt’s important to understand that exposing the wrong type of glass to the extreme heat associated with your fireplace or wood-burning stove is extremely dangerous.

Installing the wrong type of glass in your heating appliances will cause the glass to crack, shatter and even explode as it’s not capable of withstanding the heat. This makes choosing the right type of glass replacement for your wood-burning fireplaces and heating stoves vital to your safety and the safety of your household. 

Whether you need new glass for your decorative fireplace doors or you need a wood stove glass replacement, there are several things to consider including:

  • Heater ratings: Household heating appliances are rated using British Thermal Units (BTUs) that reflect an appliance's overall heat-producing capabilities and thermal output. Appliances such as wood stoves and direct vent fireplaces with BTU ratings above 18,000 are manufactured with ceramic glass features for safety. 

  • Type of appliance: Understanding if your home has a masonry fireplace or zero clearance fireplace installed helps you determine the type of replacement glass you need. Likewise, wood stoves are available in a range of shapes, sizes and designs, so having this information ahead of time will help you find the right replacement parts including glass doors. 

  • Size, shape and design: Finding the right wood stove or fireplace glass replacement depends on the size, shape and design of its doors or windows. Some of your custom or decorative fireplace doors and wood-burning stove windows might be designed for certain types of glass, so understanding this will help you find the right replacement glass.   

As you can see, choosing the right piece of glass depends on different factors, and you’ll want additional information on hand before you start shopping. Generally, you’ll need ceramic glass for your wood stoves and tempered glass for your fireplace doors. Let's explore some of the different reasons why you need ceramic for wood stove glass and tempered glass for fireplace doors.

wood stove repair and replacement parts online

Why You Need Ceramic Glass for Wood Stoves

Due to its ability to hold up against extremely high temperatures, ceramic glass is best for wood-burning stoves or stoves that burn coal or wood pellets. With capabilities to easily withstand continuous high temperatures up to 1400 degrees, ceramic glass is a versatile heat-resistant material ideal for everyday items such as:

  • Cookware, bakeware and small household appliances

  • Gas stoves, electric stoves and oven windows 

  • Wood-burning stove and fireplace doors

wood stove glass door Wood stoves are rated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as ideal choices for efficiently heating your home. Without getting too technical, the EPA rates heating appliances based in large part on the percentage of heat produced by your appliance that heats your home as compared to the amount that is wasted or dissipated.

Maintaining the heat efficiency of your heating appliance is a big reason why you need ceramic for your wood stove glass replacement. 

Ceramic glass is also beneficial for wood-burning fireplace glass doors. Ceramic glass fireplace doors for masonry fireplaces allow you to keep your doors open or closed with a fire burning. Many fireplace owners love the freedom that ceramic glass fireplace doors offer them as they enjoy the peace and tranquility of a roaring fire.

Why You Need Tempered Glass for Fireplace Doors

fireplace glass doorsTempered glass is commonly used anywhere ordinary glass just isn’t going to be strong enough to do the job or meet your needs. That’s why tempered glass is commonly found around your home where ordinary glass isn’t safe such as shower doors, skylights and fireplace doors.

Tempered glass is ideal for fireplace doors and other features around your home where enhanced glass panels are necessary.

Other benefits of tempered glass for fireplace doors are as follows:

  • Affordability: Tempered glass is cheaper to produce than other options such as ceramic glass, making it an affordable option for designing your fireplace doors.
  • Safety: Tempered glass is a safe option for fireplace doors, windows and skylights for its ability to withstand pressure, absorb heat and stand up to the general wear and tear associated with using your fireplace. 
  • Availability: Tempered glass panels are just normal glass panels that have been treated with the tempering process, making them a more widely available glass product for constructing everyday household items.

These are just a few of the benefits of using tempered glass for household items, fireplace doors and other fireplace accessories. You likely have several items around your house that are made using tempered glass instead of normal annealed glass.

How To Tell if Your Broken Glass Is Tempered or Ceramic?

After years of use, it’s common for the glass on your fireplace doors or wood stove windows to break, crack or simply degrade and stop working like originally designed. If you have broken glass on your fireplace doors or wood stove window and aren’t sure what type of glass you need to make repairs, there are easy ways to tell the difference between tempered and ceramic glass.

Ceramic glass panels always break into larger chunks while tempered glass panels shatter and spiderweb into small pieces. At times, identifying the type of replacement glass you need for an item is as easy as inspecting the broken glass on your stove or fireplace doorsYou'll notice clear differences in the ways tempered and ceramic glass panels look after they’ve been broken.


fireplace glass shattered - here's how to tell


Shop Fireplace Doors Online for Your Custom Cut Tempered and Ceramic Glass Replacements

Having the right piece of glass for your doors is vital to keeping your home safe and your appliances in proper working order. If you aren’t sure what to look for, finding the right piece of replacement glass for your fireplace or wood stove doors can be stressful and overwhelming, to say the least.

Don’t let shopping for replacement parts and accessories get you down.

Fireplace Doors Online offers a large selection of custom-cut replacement glass options. Whether you need custom-cut tempered or ceramic glass replacements, rest assured you’ll find everything you need for your fireplace, wood stove and more right from the comfort of your phone or computer at Fireplace Doors Online. We even offer free shipping on all orders inside the continental United States!

Need help placing your order? No problem there, either.

Contact us online or give us a call at 888-986-1535 and a member of our experienced support team will gladly help you find everything you’re looking for to spruce up your fireplace or wood stove!

Last updated on June 24th 2022.


I have a gas fireplace which was in the house we bought. The style of glass door you can’t open when operating, yet twice now the tempered glass door has shattered. What am I suppose to do about it? Thanks.
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