Shower enclosures these days are available in a variety of glass thicknesses. Does the thickness of the glass necessarily affect the overall quality or safety of a glass shower enclosure?
In recent years we have seen the thickness of shower glass increase from around 3mm up to 10mm on some products. All glass used in the construction of shower enclosures for sale in the UK must be tempered safety glass as standard. This is independent of the country of manufacture and is intended to reduce the risk of injury should the glass break or shatter in any way. Tempered safety glass (also known as toughened glass) is a form of glass treatment that will ensure that the broken glass in a broken glass shower panel does not shatter into sharp shards. Instead, it will literally shatter into thousands of very small pieces without the cutting ability of untreated glass. This is not to say that a broken glass unit cannot cause injury, just that it is much less likely to do so.
Many people think that the actual thickness of the glass is a direct indicator of its safety. This is not the case in the UK as all showers will have toughened safety glass which breaks in the same way regardless of thickness.
However, is thickness an indicator of quality?
Well, in terms of actual “feel” and movement, thicker glass showers have a more weighted feel. Sliding doors, for example, can wobble a bit with use when built with 3 or 4mm glass. Whereas a 6 or 8mm glass sliding shower door may be more solid and move less when opening or closing. This is not to say that the glass itself is of better quality, just that the motion of opening shower doors can benefit from using thicker glass. Another factor that will add to the solid feel of a moving shower door is its hinges or sliding mechanism. As thicker glass means an increase in weight, this is why the mechanisms used to move shower doors need to be of stronger construction than those required for thinner glass. This will also help give a thicker glass shower door a better ‘feel’ in its opening and closing action.
Frameless shower screens. Another area of the shower that benefits from thicker glass is the construction of ‘frameless’ and ‘semi-frameless’ shower enclosures. Frameless or minimalist looking showers are very popular and more elegant to look at. However, by removing much of the shell, the overall rigidity and quality feel of the enclosure is diminished. This is countered by the use of thicker 6 or 8mm glass, which is inherently stronger and can accept stronger hinges and corner braces.
Therefore, the actual thickness of the shower glass is not a direct indicator of overall quality. However, it is true that shower enclosures using 6mm, 8mm or even 10mm glass will likely have a better overall construction and offer a better feel for opening and closing than those using thinner glass units.