Glass countertops, while more expensive, are some of the most beautiful on the market. Not only can you mix and match the colors or styles, but glass counters give any kitchen or bathroom a certain draw many other counters fail to present.
Tempered glass countertops are the most popular grade for this evolving countertop material. Glass that has been tempered has undergone a heat treatment to increase its strength and durability. It may cost more than the other grades, but most homeowners agree that the extra strength is well worth the investment.
If you are thinking of replacing your existing countertop, continue reading, as I explain all there is to know about tempered glass countertops.
Glass Countertop Costs
According to our glass countertop cost estimator, all glass countertops can range from $75 to $105/sf. Know that the $75 minimum cost is well above some of the most prevalent countertop materials. By comparison, the minimum cost per square foot for:
- Quartz - $60/sf
- Granite - $50/sf
- Marble - $40/sf
- Onyx - $40/sf
- Butcher Block - $40/sf
As you might expect, tempered glass counters are more expensive than non-tempered counters due to the extra care and durability.
Nonetheless, there are many other factors that can increase or decrease the total cost of glass counters. Supplies such as sealants and adhesives add an average of $2.45 per finished square foot of surface area. The average cost of labor to install glass countertops is $45.75 per hour. Installations of complex shapes or configurations of glass countertops cost more to install than a basic rectangular or L-shaped areas with one or two seams.
Advantages of Tempered Glass Countertops
With the higher price tag comes a myriad of benefits. First and foremost, tempered glass counters are highly resistant to heat, moisture, staining and mold. When it comes to maintenance, no counter is easier to clean. Additionally, as far as maintenance is concerned, no sealing is needed, something a few other countertops can’t say.
Like others, there are a wide variety of colors, designs and patterns to choose from. In fact, just like a snowflake, experts say no two glass countertops are exactly alike.
Finally, as we move toward a greener earth, glass is an environmentally friendly option, especially if recycled glass is the primary material.
Disadvantages of Tempered Glass Countertops
As you have already heard, all glass counters are expensive. While maintaining tempered glass counters is easy, dirt, fingerprints and watermarks are very noticeable on glass counters.
While tempered is certainly stronger, all glass counters can scratch or chip under high pressure. Needless to say, many pros say homeowners should never cut directly on a glass counter. Make sure you use a cutting board.
Materials for Tempered Glass Countertops
Glass countertops consist of 85% to 95% glass along with a polymer resin or cement that binds the glass together to create a dense, solid surface. Coloring pigments may be added to the binder for an enhanced look. Usually, the glass is laid atop a solid substrate during the installation process.
Glass countertops can be made using all glass or a mixed material, which is made of glass chips embedded in a binder. The primary sub-types of glass countertops are:
- Float Glass: New or recycled glass that is made by floating molten glass on a bed of molten metal. The liquid glass is then poured into forms to create solid sheets ranging from 1/2 to 3 inches thick. The glass may be coated or sealed and pigments may be added before the glass is fully hardened.
- Slump Glass: Pieces of glass are loaded into a mold and then heated just enough to make them adhere to one another.
- Kiln-Fired Glass: Bits of glass are melded together in a mold in a kiln. This allows tiny shards of glass to be reused. The size of the finished piece is limited to the capacity of the kiln.
Some homeowners, perhaps those with a DIY attitude, like to supply their own glass as opposed to a manufacturer. However, just know that once made, you should still have a licensed contractor install the finished product.
Grades of Glass Countertops
Glass countertops are graded based on strength. The glass grades are:
- Tempered Glass: This glass has undergone a heat treatment to increase its strength and durability. Tempered is the most popular grade for glass counters.
- Non-Tempered Glass: This as-is glass has not undergone any strength-enhancing treatments.
- Annealed Glass: This glass may have chemicals added to the resin mixture to enhance hardness and reduce ductility.
Tempered glass counters, while they may not look durable, are strong, hygienic and a luxurious material for any kitchen or bathroom. The upfront costs are high, but the unique look and feel will surely make your kitchen or bathroom stand out from the rest.
Not sure if glass is right for you? Check out the rest of our kitchen remodeling cost estimators.