To Temper or Not To Temper: That is the Question

Dreamwalls Color Glass Bright Blue

Dreamwalls Color Glass Bright Blue.  Installation: Creative Mirror & Shower

Annealed glass is regular glass that has gone through no other heat treated process. It’s the kind of glass that has a large break pattern or a large crack. Tempered glass is glass that has been heat-treated using a special process that makes it 4 times stronger than annealed glass. It’s more resistant to surface strikes and thermal shock. When should you use watch type in a backsplash?

Solid Glass Backsplash backpainted, behind vent hood.

Solid Glass Backsplash behind vent hood. Installation: Hershey Glass & Mirror

What is thermal shock? In layman’s terms, it’s when temperatures change quickly and drastically in part of an object that is vastly different than the rest of the body. This causes the material to expand or contract at different rates and leads to breakage.

Transitional stylish kitchen with granite countertops and glass backsplash.

Dark, earthtoned backpainted glass backsplash behind stovetop

In marble sinks, you often see thermal shock cracks and breaks when a cold marble sink is suddenly exposed to hot water. In glass backsplashes, thermal shock can occur when the glass is placed behind a cooktop that is very close to the heat source or in proximity of large pots and pans that can heat the glass up very quickly in a localized spot. Tempered glass is more resistant to thermal shock, so if your backsplash is being installed behind a cooktop, we recommend it be tempered.

There are no building codes that we know of that dictate tempered glass in this application. However, it’s just a question you need to address. Tempered glass costs a little more, and prevents easy modifications of the glass in the field, since it can’t be cut later once the glass is tempered; but the time and energy spent replacing it later on may well be worth it.


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