Why Do Glass Pool Fences Explode?

May 8, 2022

Glass pool fences have been in the media for exploding. So, you may be wondering what are glass pool fences made of and what causes them to explode?


What Are Glass Pool Fences Made From?

Glass pool fences are made of safety glass, which has undergone a strengthening process to make it much less vulnerable to breaking than regular glass. There are two types of safety glass to choose from with different characteristics; toughened glass and laminated glass.

Toughened glass (also known as tempered glass) is made by heating a piece of pre-cut glass to a very high temperature inside a tempering furnace, then rapidly cooling it down. This causes the glass to become 4 to 5 times stronger than normal glass. Tempered glass is strong, safe and has good resistance to temperature fluctuations. It is also the most affordable type of safety glass available. Tempered glass is a lot less likely to break than normal glass and in the event of it breaking, it is designed to shatter into small blunt pieces. These small blunt pieces are less likely to cause injury than sharp shards from standard glass breakages.

Laminated glass is created by taking two pieces of tempered glass and then using high temperature and pressure to join the pieces together to create an interlayer (toughened glass sandwich). The interlayer provides a number of additional benefits over standard toughened glass including better UV resistance and sound blocking. If laminated glass breaks, the connecting interlayer ensures the glass stays locked in place rather than shattering into pieces.


Why Do Glass Fences Explode?

While it is very rare for a properly installed glass fence panel to explode, it can happen. Toughened and laminated glass are not indestructible and faults can lead to the glass fence shattering. The faults include:

  • Manufacturing Defects – During the manufacturing process, microscopic pebbles called nickel sulphide inclusions (or stones) can become trapped in the glass. This can alter the structure of the glass so when the glass expands or contracts during temperature fluctuation, the pebbles weaken the glass causing it to shatter.
  • Glass Expansion & Wind Deflection – Safety glass is designed to safely expand and contract during temperature fluctuations without shattering. It should also be able to withstand high winds without issue. Problems can occur if the glass fence installer does not allow adequate space around the perimeter of the post to allow for expansion, contraction and wind deflection. Inadequate post and frame fixture spacing can lead to breakage. 
  • Installation Errors – While poorly installed posts or frames are one key installation error, the most common installation error is improper handling of the panels. This can lead to tiny nicks or chips in the glass, particularly at the edges and corners. These tiny imperfections create internal stresses, which worsen over time as the glass repeatedly expands and contracts and eventually leads to breakages.
  • Improper Thickness – A pane that is either too thin or too thick can be more prone to shattering.


Are Glass Pool Fences Safe?

No building material is impervious to faults or breakages. To ensure your pool fence is as safe as possible, you should ensure that it is made from toughened or laminated glass that meets the Australian Standards and is installed by an experienced installer. While images or videos of exploding fences may look shocking, it’s important to remember that the glass pieces you see on the ground are small blunt pieces that are unlikely to cause injury. Breakages of glass fence panels can certainly be unsightly, they are unlikely to cause injury to anyone in the vicinity as long as they are dealt with appropriately.


If you’re looking for a high-quality glass fencing installer in Sydney, contact the Sydney Frameless Glass team today for more information or a FREE quote.

Get Your FREE Estimate Today Make An Enquiry

    Need Help? Call And Ask For Details

    For further information or to organise a FREE measure and quote you can contact Sydney Frameless Glass on 1300 388 920.