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Tempered Glass Safety Requirements

John Landers
Table of Contents

Tempered glass safety requirements provide safeguards for people and animals in areas where regular glasses tend to present a danger. Tempered glass has characteristics that make it as much as five time stronger than standard glass. Tempered glass will not break into dangerous, sharp shards when broken.

Tempered safety glass minimizes the probability of injuries or fatalities.

Instead, tempered glass panels tends to shatter into oval-shaped pebbles all at once.


In 1977, the Consumer Product Safety Commission adopted standards requiring installers and builders to use safety glazing materials that meet certain specifications for a wide variety of interior and exterior doors, including closets and bathrooms. The International Code Council has incorporated the standards for International Building Code (IBC), which most local building code department employ. The IBC mandates the use of tempered glass in specific areas and structures.


New construction should meet the building code requirements for the installation of tempered glass in windows and doors located in certain areas. Many existing structure and additions, such as porches deck or rooms may require the use of tempered glass in the remodeled areas as determined by the codes.

Walls and Fences

The International Building Code states that the fencing and walls encasing spas, hot tubs or swimming pools must have tempered glass in places where the bottom of the glazing sets less than 60 inches above the walking surface and within 60 inches horizontally from the water's edge. This rule applies to single and multiple glazing.

Stairways and Landings

Installers must use tempered glass in close proximity to staircases or landings. Building codes mandate the installation of safety glass within 60 inches horizontally of the bottom step of a staircase in all directions. This becomes necessary when the exposed glass surface lies less than 60 inches above the nose or the step’s edge. In addition, tempered glass must be used parallel to ramps, staircases and landings that reach within 3 feet horizontally of a walking surface. This requirement pertains to areas where the exposed surface of the glass sits 60 inches above the level of the adjoining walk in the middle of a particular staircase. This applies even to lawn or deck surfaces. The regulations require the landing to extend a minimum of 36 inches beyond the edge of the stair. The codes require tempered glass 36 inches horizontally and 60 inches vertically of all landings.

Door/Adjacent Panel

Any stationary or operable glass panel located next to a door, and with the vertical border within a 24-inch arch of a closed door and less than 60 inches above the floor surface, must have safety glass. The same rules apply for sliding glass doors.