Bathroom window safety glass is required if the bottom edge of the window is within 60” from the tub or shower standing surface.
This bathroom window safety glass requirement has been with us since 1991 edition of the Uniform Building Code. However, almost every single home inspection I perform in a new construction or gut-rehabbed properties fails on the bathroom window… obviously; it’s not an important requirement.
Anyway, for your own safety (not the developers), if you have a window on one of the shower or bathtub surrounding walls and its bottom section of the glass starts less than 60” from the standing surface, look at the corners of the glass. There should be a permanently etched label confirming that your bathroom window safety glass / tempered glass is installed.
On occasions, in custom windows, there might be a removable label applied. If there’s no label or visible etching on your bathroom window glass surface, assume that it is not a safety / tempered type of glass and slipping or falling onto such window may result in serious injury.
There are 2 types of bathroom window safety glass than can be used as long as they meet 16 CFR 1201 Class II impact standard (400ft lb) :
- Laminated glass – it’s a sandwiched sheet of plastic foil between the glass panes. If broken, plastic holds pieces of glass together and prevents injury.
- Tempered glass – it’s heat treated during the manufacturing process. If broken, crumbles into small pieces, just like the car door glass sections.
Wire reinforced glass is no longer permitted for use as a bathroom window safety glass.
Tempered Glass in Bathrooms
Other areas in the bathroom that require use of tempered glass are enclosures (including walls and doors) surrounding tubs / hot tubs, showers, spas, whirlpools, saunas, and steam rooms. The same standard as for windows is required.
Custom, decorative pieces of glass manufactured for some of those applications might not have any markings / labels that would clearly state type of the installed glass. If you know the manufacturer – ask for the safety glass certificate.
Glass blocks (windows or walls) installed in the bathrooms are considered masonry not glass.
If you just purchased a brand new property, and there’s no etching on the glass surface, request a certificate from the developer / window company, check with your local building department. Don’t just assume that the bathroom window safety glass has been installed.