If you’re thinking about your next commercial door install at your business, exterior double doors made of glass are a great option. They let in natural light, are easily automated, and allow easy traffic in and out of your business. But glass doors aren’t just glass doors. They can be just glass, but they’re likely a type of safety glass: tempered or laminate.
Tempered glass is glass that has been heat and pressure treated to strengthen it and make it resistant to breaking. When it does break, it shatters into really tiny pieces, not dangerous large shards.
Laminated glass is two glass panes joined by a plastic layer in the middle. When this glass breaks, it doesn’t shatter; it stays together because it’s stuck to the plastic layer.

Pros of Tempered Glass Storefront Doors and Windows

Tempered glass is considered the strongest type of safety glass because of its resistance to breakage. However, it is more often used in interior contexts than storefront doors and windows. But if you’re looking to install storefront doors and windows that can stand up to weather and rioting, and that break safely when they can’t, tempered glass is the way to go.
(An interesting fact about the tempering process for glass, is that it’s not a new process. People have been tempering volcanic glass for thousands of years in order to make projectile points like spearheads much stronger than their non-heat treated counterparts. So, this method of strengthening glass is about as tried and true as you can get.)

Pros of Laminated Commercial Glass Entry Doors

Laminated glass is often used in contexts like glass entry doors and car windshields because it doesn’t shatter. Also, unlike tempered glass, when it breaks it doesn’t shatter into pieces. And while not as strong as tempered glass, it’s still 5-10x stronger than regular glass. The plastic layer in the middle can also be treated for UV protection, or tinted. Another thing is you can cut laminated glass after fabrication. You cannot, however, cut tempered glass after fabrication, as the surface would explode. So if you’re installing tempered glass on your commercial glass entry doors, be sure you measure really well beforehand.

Can Regular Glass Stand up to Safety Glass?

Not really. Standard glass is fine for residential uses like old window panes, transom windows and stained glass windows. But it’s not great for anything that’s going to see a lot of impact, wear and tear, weather, etc. Even residents in places with extreme weather (like Florida’s hurricanes) almost always choose safety glass when replacing doors and windows. Yes, it’s more expensive than regular glass. But one installation of safety glass isn’t more expensive than several installations of regular glass that keeps breaking. And we’re just talking about regular residential situations. So if you’re looking at a new storefront door and window install, definitely pick laminated or tempered glass.