Physical Properties

Physical properties

Mechanical properties:


The density of glass is 2,5, which gives flat glass a mass of 2,5 kg per m2 per mm of thickness, or 2500 kg per m3.


Compressive strength

The compressive strength of glass is extremely high: 1000 N/mm2 = 1000 MPa. This means that to shatter a 1 cm cube of glass, it requires a load of some 10 tonnes.


Tensile strength

When glass is deflected, it has one face under compression and the other in tension. Whilst the resistance of glass to compressive stress is extremely high, its resistance to tensile stress is significantly lower.

The resistance to breakage on deflection is in the order of:

  • 40 MPa (N/mm2) for annealed glass
  • 120 MPa for toughened glass (depending on thickness, edgework, holes, notches etc).
  • The increased strength of toughened glass is the result of the toughening process putting both faces under high compression. Dual Seal Glass can advise on appropriate working stresses for different glass types and can calculate suitable thicknesses for architectural applications



Glass is a perfectly elastic material: it does not exhibit permanent deformation, until breakage. However it is fragile, and will break without warning if subjected to excessive stress.


• Young’s modulus, E

This modulus expresses the tensile force thatwould theoretically have to be applied to a glass sample to stretch it by an amount equal to its original length.

It is expressed as a force per unit area.For glass, in accordance with European standards:

E = 70 GPa


• Poisson’s ratio, μ (lateral contraction coefficient)

When a sample is stretched under mechanical stress a decrease in its cross-section is observed. Poisson’s ratio (μ) is the relation between the unit decrease in the direction perpendicular to the axis of the effort and the unit strain in the direction of the effort.
For glass in buildings, the value of coefficient μ is 0.2.


Thermal characteristics

Linear expansion

Linear expansion is expressed by a coefficient measuring the stretch per unit length for a variation of 1 °C. This coefficient is generally given for a temperature range of 20 to 300 °C.

The coefficient of linear expansion for glass is 9 x 10-6 /K.


Thermal stress

Due to the low thermal conductivity of glass, see “Glass and thermal insulation”  , partially heating or cooling a sheet of glass creates stresses, which may cause thermal breakage. When glass is framed, the edges are encased in the rebate, which protects them from direct solar radiant heat. This can cause temperature differentials sufficient to cause thermal breakage.This risk is increased where heat absorbent solar control glasses are used.