Commercial and Residential Glass Installer and Manufacturer Resource

Options That Deliver For Commercial Glass Doors

Feb 3, 2023 3:07:00 PM / by Greg Martell

Commercial glass types often used for exterior doors include: 

  1. Tempered glass
  2. Laminated glass 
  3. Fire-rated glass
  4. Decorative glass 

commericial door

Most commercial entry doors feature glass. With the exception of the hardware, some are even made entirely of glass. 

Whether it’s providing a window for light to enter a space, allowing those inside to see out, or even adding to a building’s appearance, commercial glass plays a big role in a door’s function

Depending on a door’s placement and intended use, the selection of the commercial glass type used also makes a big difference in a door’s longevity and safety

Getting the most from commercial glass doors, especially storefront doors, starts with the proper glass selection.


4 Commercial Glass Types for Exterior Doors

With a wide variety of options, there’s a glass type for almost every kind of commercial door. 

Commercial glass types often used for exterior doors include: 

  1. Tempered glass
  2. Laminated glass 
  3. Fire-rated glass
  4. Decorative glass 

Each type of commercial glass has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to understand which one will best suit your situation before selecting the right material.


Tempered Glass

Tempered glass is among the strongest glass options available

Through a heat-treating process -- which brings panes to temperatures over 1,000℉ before being quickly cooled -- glass sheets become 4-5x stronger than traditional glass.

With its enhanced strength, tempered glass is more durable and able to deflect blunt impacts without breaking. 

In the event of a breakage, tempered glass doesn’t shatter into jagged shards. Rather, tempered glass breaks into small, pebble-like pieces. Those in the immediate area of a broken tempered glass pane are not at risk of getting hurt by large pieces of broken glass. 

Tempered glass is also heat resistant, providing a level of shielding from a fire’s intense heat. 

Tempered glass’ strength and security make it an ideal choice in high-traffic areas. 


Laminated Glass

Another material known for strength, laminated glass panes also stand up well to the demands of a door. 

Made by bonding a clear, vinyl interlayer between at least two plies of glass, laminated glass panes offer increased integrity against heavy or direct blows. Using a special polycarbonate layer, laminated glass can be bulletproof

In the event the glass does break, its pieces don’t shatter and fall out of place. Thanks to the interlayer, broken glass pieces remain within the pane. This drastically reduces the chance for injury from jagged shards. 

With its additional layers, laminated glass also reduces noise -- an important feature to consider for spaces located on busy streets and thoroughfares.   


Fire-Rated Glass

For one of the most extreme situations -- a building fire -- fire-rated glass is one of the best commercial glass choices for protecting people and property. 

There are two categories of fire-rated glass: fire-protective glass and fire-resistant glass.

From a safety perspective, it’s important to understand the differences between both types for fire-rated glass doors.  

Fire-protective glass blocks the spread of fire and smoke and does offer some protection from radiant heat. This glass type is usually not made from glass, but rather a clear ceramic. Some fire-protective glass is a specialty tempered glass. 

Fire-resistant glass offers the most protection during a fire. Like fire-protective glass, fire-resistant glass helps contain the spread of flames and smoke. Comprising multiple layers of glass in a sheet, fire-resistant glass also blocks radiant heat. In the event of a fire, those passing by a commercial door with fire-resistant glass will not be exposed to the blaze’s intense heat -- a key factor for doors in escape routes.  


Decorative Glass  

Not every door is meant strictly for utility purposes. Sometimes, a storefront door contributes to or complements a building’s aesthetics. This is particularly true for doors installed at historic buildings or part of restoration projects.   

Using patterned glass on a door is an easy way to achieve a certain look. For instance,  depending on the style, patterned glass can even provide an element of privacy by obscuring clarity. 

With a period-appropriate door style coupled with a carefully selected patterned glass, a commercial glass entry door blends seamlessly into the surrounding structure. 

Is durability a concern? Some patterned glass types are temperable. Your glass manufacturer will point you in the right direction. 

In buildings with modern design schemes, two-way commercial mirror glass pairs well -- and is unique. While providing a sleek aesthetic, two-way mirror glass, such as Mirropane, still allows for light transmission into a space and unobstructed viewing of the area on its other side. 


Getting the Most From Your Commercial Glass Doors

When it comes to commercial glass doors, there are a variety of types available that can provide the necessary functionality, safety, security, and aesthetic appeal. 

From tempered glass to fire-rated glass, laminated glass, and decorative glass, there’s an option available that meets your needs.

See What We Offer

Grab your free digital copy of our catalog to learn more about the various styles available for commercial glass doors:

New call-to-action

(Editor's note: This article was originally published in January 2021 and was recently updated.)


Topics: Commercial Glass, Custom Glass, Tempered Glass, Fire Rated Glass, Coated glass

Written by Greg Martell