Alternative to [tempered] glass shower doors


Old 03-02-15, 11:49 AM
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Alternative to [tempered] glass shower doors

We recently renovated our bathroom where we had installed an 8mm frame-less tempered glass shower doors for our tub. 6 months in and one of the doors spontaneously blew up damaging several of the materials around it. Luckily we managed to have everything replaced and most importantly no one was hurt (the explosion occurred when no one was in the bathroom).

Now we are skeptical about these doors, what if my pregnant wife takes a shower and these doors decide to blow up again, or when we give the baby a bath? It ridiculously dangerous if you ask me but then again I can't find and alternative.

What if I tape a decorative film over these doors will that give somewhat of protection when it blows up?

Not sure how they even still sell these products, someone can get seriously hurt if no one already has.

Last edited by ray2047; 03-02-15 at 03:56 PM. Reason: Correct title.
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Old 03-02-15, 12:05 PM
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Over 40 years in the business and that's the first one I've ever heard of one doing that.
Old 03-02-15, 12:11 PM
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Old 03-02-15, 12:14 PM
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Never heard of such a thing. Maybe if there was some sort of flaw in the glass or it had been dinged during or after install, then some sort of temp change or stress just caused it to fail?

I'd have to call this a one in a million.

Ahh, just read the article...guess someone agrees with my 1 in a million statement.

60 complaints over 8 yrs. With literally millions sold and in use. Put some film on the outside if it makes you feel better.
Old 03-02-15, 12:15 PM
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These are some of the pictures I took before I had it all replaced:


Last edited by Ronen Linder; 03-02-15 at 01:10 PM.
Old 03-02-15, 12:17 PM
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Have to be 100 times more likely (or more) to slip and fall and get hurt than have the glass shatter.
Old 03-02-15, 12:27 PM
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Pictures all come up as invalid links.
Old 03-02-15, 01:10 PM
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Yeah got the same error, fixed it now.
Old 03-02-15, 02:45 PM
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It's a fluke, but that is the way tempered glass breaks, it shatters, not cracks. You must have had a hairline defect in one to the hanging roller holes that eventually gave way or a roller slipped. If the door slipped out of the upper track and bounced on the tub deck, this is what the outcome would be.
Old 03-02-15, 03:29 PM
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Judging by the picture and the position the broken pane is in, in relation to the other unbroken one, (fully open) I would wonder if this happened when the door was thrown open and the handle of one door hit the other. (you say no one was in th bathroom... do you leave the doors open like that when its not in use?) Not saying the person was careless, but unless the person using the shower is careful, this could happen again. It could be that a different handle or different handle location could eliminate this problem. Some handles will have a rubber bumper in just the right spot to cushion the blow should they hit.
Old 03-02-15, 05:21 PM
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This is either a result of a manufacturing defect, or more likely an installation defect. There are literally millions of these doors used every day, and this just does not happen. Tempered glass is extremely strong if hit on its face, but if you hit it on the edge, it will shatter like this with little effort. were there any pitches in the frame around the glass, or screws sticking out of the wall jambs?
Old 03-03-15, 05:08 AM
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40 years in the business and I've seen 2 doors with tempered glass break on their own. A tiny defect in the glass can cause this to happen without warning. Putting film on the glass will not help since the glass has no aluminum frame. You can get framed doors with laminated safety glass (2 sheets of glass with a layer of plastic in between) and probably 1/2" frameless with laminated glass.
Old 03-03-15, 09:45 AM
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Little off subject but I remember putting a thin film of mylar on single pane windows. Some were like 9"x13" pane in wood frames. You could take a hammer and whale on it and it would not break. Was said to be able to stop a 22 round.
Old 03-03-15, 12:17 PM
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To actually answer the question you might ask a plastics company about fabricating a door of abrasion-resistant polycarbonate. Or maybe non-abrasion resistant polycarbonate or even acrylic. The plastics won't be as scratch resistant as the glass and may cloud over in time but they won't shatter either. Cost is going to be high.
Old 03-04-15, 06:02 AM
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tempered glass shower doors

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These are a couple of edge pictures of a piece of broken tempered glass.

That bit of haze in the center of the sample is the remainder of the tension layer after the glass has "exploded" into thousands of (relatively) tiny pieces.

When intact, tempered glass has an interior tension layer and an exterior compression layer.

Basically the glass is heated and as it heats it expands. When the glass has reached the appropriate temperature it is rapidly cooled by blowing air on the top and bottom - it's the cooling portion of the cycle that determines the level of temper (in psi for us American types), or whether the final product will be classed as tempered or heat strengthened.

As the exterior of the glass cools, the interior remains hot. So while the exterior is contracting (compression), interior remains expanded (tension).

The surface compression layer is going to be about 21% of the glass to each side of the center tension layer - which is center 58% of the total thickness of the glass prior to release of the tension.

Anytime the boundary layer between the compression layer and the tension layer is penetrated, for any reason whatsoever, you are going to have catastrophic failure.

You cannot cut or drill tempered glass. Not diamond saw, not waterjet (waterjet's are fun to watch with tempered glass), not laser, not underwater, not flaming string, nothing...there is NO special equipment or techniques that allow you to cut or drill tempered glass.

Many people have claimed that they have successfully cut tempered glass; they have not. Anyone who believes that they have cut tempered glass has cut glass that was not tempered no matter if it was labeled tempered of not.

You can do edge work on tempered glass and you can etch tempered glass. Sometimes the glass won't even explode on you. However, don't, its a very bad idea.

Tempered glass can break "spontaneously" for several reasons including (but not exclusively) undetected edge damage, as mentioned in several other posts, and nickel sulfide "inclusions" which are tiny particles of unmelted nickel sulfide that are in the glass near the border of the compression and tension layers.

When the glass is heated the nickel sulfide particle can expand resulting in penetration of the layers and catastrophic failure.

One method thought to limit this type of failure is to "heat-soak" the finished tempered glass prior to sending out to the field. Basically the glass is heated to a specific temperature and held there for a specific amount of time in an attempt to cause inclusion failure before the glass goes into an installed application.

However, not everyone agrees that heat soaking is beneficial and some experts suggest that heat soaking actually increases the chances of field failure for a couple technical reasons related to what happens if a tempered lite with inclusions doesn't fail during the heat soak process.

If you are really concerned, I would agree with Johnam also suggest that you look into laminated glass shower doors. Think broken or cracked windshield in your car to imagine what happens when laminated glass is damaged.

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