Tempered glass or plain glass for kitchen cabinets?
April 4, 2007 2:09 AM   Subscribe

Should our kitchen cabinet doors have plain glass or tempered glass?

We just bought new custom cabinet doors, as a somewhat cheaper/easier alternative to replacing our kitchen cabinets. The doors are cut for glass (they look like frames), which we have to buy and install separately. We've called around to numerous glass shops, and called the cabinet door company, and gotten a ridiculously wide range of responses to this question. Some folks say "Of course you need tempered! Otherwise you might get a shard of glass in the arm if the door shatters some time when you slam it." Other's have said "Tempered glass is far more likely to shatter (into lots of "safe" pieces, but still a hassle) upon normal cabinet door use, so get regular glass - you're not likely to break it."

Some places charge a lot more for tempered glass - like 40 bucks extra for a 40 dollar piece of glass. (We've also seen a huge range of glass prices - from 13 dollars a pane to 90 dollars a pane - untempered.)

Extra info:
- These are all upper cabinet doors, and we have 2 boys (6 and 3) who are just starting to use chairs to reach items up high - so they will likely be using these doors in little boy fashion (ie. sort of clumsily/roughly at times).
- The hinges for these doors have a very firm closing action.
- Whatever glass we get will be obscure or frosted - not clear.
posted by chr1sb0y to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you're going to get frosted glass, why not get some variant of Lexan (tm) or other plexiglas-like substance? It will take a baseball hit full-on without breaking.
posted by pjern at 3:37 AM on April 4, 2007

Even if you're looking at using clear glass, Lexan is easy to work with and much clearer than actual glass. The doors will feel a little weird, because it's also much lighter than glass, but you'll know that your kids won't be able to break them.
posted by Davidicus at 4:24 AM on April 4, 2007

Maybe laminated glass would work better for you? Any breakage would be fully contained between the laminating material.
posted by boomchicka at 4:32 AM on April 4, 2007

Tempered glass can shatter "on its own" due to internal stresses developed in the tempering process, particularly if small scratches are developed, or if such tiny defects remain from cutting processes. As boomchika mentioned, you might want to inquire about laminated glass for the application you describe, if Lexan or other plastic alternative isn't suitable.
posted by paulsc at 4:42 AM on April 4, 2007

I'd like to suggest something like Fusion Architectural Panels by Designtex* (stupid flash site, click on Products> Architectural Panels).

There's no chance of shattering, they are made out of resin, a sustainable material and you have tons of options from shiny, plain, glass-like to super modern to natural botanicals in a myriad of colors.

*Full disclosure, I work for Designtex, no discounts unfortunately.
posted by lannanh at 5:13 AM on April 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

If plain glass breaks, it will make a terrible mess, potentially hurting someone and ruining any cooking project nearby. I quite like the look of glass with wire mesh in it, but if you don't, then use some sort of glass that breaks into pellets.
posted by theora55 at 7:50 AM on April 4, 2007

Tempered glass IS more likely to shatter into lots of small (and less dangerous) pieces, but it is also about 5 times stronger than plain glass, so it is less likely to break in the first place.

Tempered glass is what you find in many architectural applications (sliding doors) and the passenger windows of cars. Laminated glass is what you find in the front windshield. If you're set on glass, I would pick either of those over the plain for your situation, though both will be more expensive.
posted by FuzzyVerde at 8:16 AM on April 4, 2007

The first reply had it right IMHO. Sidestep the whole issue by getting Lexan or some other clear plexiglass/plastic.
posted by ilsa at 9:45 AM on April 4, 2007

The problem with Lexan is that it scratches. Don't even look at it funny while holding a Scotch-Brite pad or some Comet, or you'll have one brushed panel amongst ten frosted ones.

n.b. this is based on my experience with automotive Lexan windows/panels. YMMV.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 10:53 AM on April 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

Whatever you get do not put plain glass in those cabinets. It is really dangerous. It breaks easily and shatters into sharp shards. Tempered breaks into tiny little bits that are much less dangerous (why it's required in car windows). It is much stronger, but is also vulnerable to sharp taps. The price is because it has to be tempered (heated to almost melting then cooled) after it has been cut to size.

Taking all that into account, plus having youngsters around I put in another vote for glass-alternatives.
posted by Ookseer at 10:56 AM on April 4, 2007

Best choice: Go with Lexan or similar non-glass substitute.

Second-best choice: Go with tempered glass.
posted by Ynoxas at 11:12 AM on April 4, 2007

Why not have some stained glass panels made? I've made a bunch of cabinet doors for peope with the same reasons you have.
Otherwise, I'd suggest Lami, but since you want it obscured you're more likely to find a style of obscured glass you like if it's not tempered, since I've never seen a frosted tempered piece. They do make frosted Lami.
My favorite disorted glass is blown reamy, click on Reamy (Danziger).
I'm always against frosted glass because it's really just sand blasted glass and it's impossible to really clean.
You'd probably be fine with plain old textured 1/8" glass.
posted by princelyfox at 11:28 AM on April 4, 2007

Response by poster: RESOLUTION: We went with tempered glass. It added about 35 bucks per door (on top of the glass price).
posted by chr1sb0y at 8:09 AM on May 16, 2007

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