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What's The Difference Between Tempered And Ceramic Glass?

When the glass breaks in your fireplace glass door, or your wood stove window - you'll need to know which type of glass your heating unit will need to replace it.

 Apr 29, 2020    Fireplace Doors, Choosing Your Door, Masonry Doors, Manufactured Doors

Ceramic Glass vs. Tempered Glass

You see it all the time in action movies: a skylight shatters sending thousands of deadly shards of glass showering on the hero who miraculously isn’t hurt. The reality, though, is that if that had happened to the skylight, it wouldn't be so dramatic or deadly.  Most skylights today are made from tempered glass, the same glass on most of our fireplace doors!

Although the glass is a safer glass to use due to the shattering and the withstand, it is still important to be informed and to make an educated purchase. The glass on your fireplace or stove serves many purposes but it's good to know all the ins and outs of the glass and how to choose. Let's get this started!

Glass Education

Tempered glass is made with your safety in mind. When broken it does shatter but in smaller, harmless pieces. Tempered glass is also much more durable than ordinary, annealed glass. Ordinary glass breaks at about 6,000 psi (pounds per square inch) while tempered glass generally breaks at 24,000 psi. Tempered glass is made using a heat process (or in some cases a chemical process) that creates tension and compression in the glass. This gives the glass the durability it needs to stand up to the heat of your fireplace!

Ceramic glass is a little different. Formed in a two-step process, ceramic glass (called PyroCeram) encourages crystaline growth in the second phase of production. In this process the growth of crystals is controlled, allowing uniform growth within the glass. Ordinarily, crystal growth isn’t a good thing, but with ceramic glass, you get the advantages of glass with the durability of ceramics. This may not seem like such a big deal, but consider that your wood stove's glass window is made out of ceramic glass due to its durability and its ability to withstand extreme heat.  Originally ceramic glass wasn’t even designed for cooktops or fireplace doors and stoves, but telescopes!

Ceramic glass is most commonly used with wood, coal and pellet stoves because ceramic glass can withstand continuous temperatures exceeding 1000° F. Wood burning stoves are used with the door closed, so it’s important that the glass used in the window be able to handle the intense heat put off by the stove. Ceramic glass is also used with fireplace inserts and some masonry fireplace doors when manufacturers think that the heat may exceed what tempered glass can handle. 

Tempered glass is far more common when it comes to fireplace doors! Since you shouldn’t burn your fireplace with the fireplace doors closed, tempered glass isn’t exposed to the extreme heat that could potentially damage or shatter it. It tends to be less expensive than ceramic glass, making it easier to replace damaged panels on your fireplace door.

                                                                 

First Things First

There are many steps to making the conscious decision of which type of glass to purchase for your fireplace or stove. But before you can take the leap you need to know which type of glass you need. The easiest way to tell what type you need is to know what your fireplace or stove is, what it burns, if the doors are open or closed, etc. We don't want to linger too much as there is so much information out there regarding your type of fireplace or stove. We just want to touch base as this is imperative to know when making the decision. This will also help in telling the differences between the types of glass options.

There are many ways to tell what type of fireplace or stove you have. To make it a simple and short description of those differences...here's an awesome video!

                                                                                     

 This video goes over the basics for how to tell what type of fireplace you have. Once you have determined this then you will be ready to start the glass shopping process. A general rule for the glass you need for your fireplace is that if you have a prefab fireplace, you cannot place ceramic glass on the fireplace! With a masonry fireplace you have options depending on what you want and what you are doing. Generally, it's based on if you are looking to keep your doors open or closed which we will touch on later.

Next, you have the stove options. Unfortunately, we don't have a nifty video to help figure this out but we have a pretty easy way to do so. The type of stove you have varies on the manufacturer and whatnot but that isn't really important when replacing the glass on the stove. With the exception of if there is information regarding this via your manual. If your manual says to use a specific type of glass, then that is what you should do. Outside of the manual or manufacturer, you can tell by the type of stove it is. For example, if the stove burns wood, coal, or pellets. It is more common for stoves to use ceramic glass as the front glass or door does not open. 

Love Is An Open Door

A big player in the glass differences for your fireplace or stove is whether or not the doors open, what your preference is for the doors to be open or closed, or what is the safest option. Open or closed doors while using a fire is a pretty great debate in preference but there is a ton more that goes into this type of decision. This decision is highly impacted by the types of glass that are being used within the fireplace or stove. 

As safety is our top priority, you should know this information prior to making a glass replacement. We strive to make sure your home and loved ones are safe with your fireplace or stove. Therefore, we always try to advise to always keep your fireplace or stove doors open while burning as this can cause the glass to shatter. Don't worry though, we know that some don't have an option to open the doors where the glass lies. This is ok because these fireplaces or stoves were made with that in mind!

Starting off is the stove. Stoves mostly are loaded via the top or back of the equipment and usually have a glass opening on the front so you can still enjoy a relaxing scene inside the stove. The stove is made to withstand this type of heat and the glass is ceramic which allows the glass to withstand that temperature without shattering. Keep in mind that each time you heat glass the glass expands and could eventually cause the glass to break at some point way in the future. Just remember to note that there are precautions you can take to avoid this by caring for your glass and purchasing glass at 1/8" shy of your mounting surface. 

Finishing up with all other options which includes fireplaces of all kinds. A fireplace is an in between when it comes to what type of glass to use. You will want to make sure you are following any manual suggestions or reaching out to your local professional to verify what type of glass you may need. Just remember a fireplace gets very hot and it can be unsafe to close the doors on your fireplace as they are mostly tempered glass. To sum this section up to move on here is another information video on this subject to help you decide!

                                                                                   

Replace The Glass

Now that you are armed with the knowledge of glass and how it's used safely, we want to touch on how to replace your fireplace door glass. This is just a small section with an informational video that goes over the steps to replace your glass. We want to give you all the tools you will need to make this smooth and easy and most importantly safe. We also have some information that you can read by clicking here.

                                 

Make It Easy 


There are many benefits to both ceramic and tempered glass. For example, with ceramic glass, you get a glass that’ll handle extreme temperatures, more so than any other glass. Tempered glass is more economical and pretty durable as well. Most ceramic glass has a lower CTE, meaning it won’t expand as much. While this can be a nice benefit, it doesn’t really apply to most fireplace doors and only matters with fire products that get very hot. 

Ultimately it all depends on what you have and what you want, but to avoid violating the warranty and potentially damaging your fireplace door, remember to only put the type of glass on your door that it’s designed for. If your zero-clearance fireplace door has tempered glass (they all do) please don’t order the ceramic glass. The same thing applies to your fire product that uses ceramic glass! 

Let us know how we can help make your fire products safe today! Fireplace Doors Online has everything you need to repair your ceramic or tempered fireplace glass! We have a U.S. based customer service team trained in fireplaces and fire products, so we can help direct you to the product you need to make your fireplace safe for years to come.


FAQ's

Is ceramic glass stronger?

  • Ceramic glass isn't exactly stronger perse. Ceramic can withstand a higher heat compared to tempered glass and is made to be used in items that are closed off. Keep in mind that ceramic class can shatter as well if exposed to an extreme heat.

What is the best way to clean my glass?

  • There are many ways to clean your fireplace or stove glass but we have a handy little guide to give you the best cleaning options for your glass. You can click HERE to view the guide. Remember caring for your glass is super important in keeping your glass up to par and safe!

Last updated on April 29th 2020.

Comments

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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