Security Window Films: An Important Part of a Layered Defense Plan
Security window film retro-fits should be considered as part of any safety plan where ‘forced entry’ mitigation is identified as a priority. Installed properly on existing glass, security window film impedes entry into a building, home or storefront through windows and doors providing for enhanced reaction times. “Buying time” with secured glass leads directly to increased occupant safety and reduced loss of inventory & critical assets.
Film Basics & Professional Recommendations : Security Window Films 101
In general, ‘safety’ or ‘security’ films are constructed with tough layers of high-grade polyester creating a thick laminate of 4 to 14 mils. The films are installed on the interior surface of existing glass and adhered with a strong, glue-like backing. The film application process is similar to the mechanics of wallpapering, but on glass surfaces. The films are installed using a water and soap solution – not a paste – and take up to 30-60 days to fully cure before dry.
Most security films are impregnated with UV inhibitors to guard against the sun’s harmful UV radiation, protecting the film laminate and adhesive backing from degradation over time. Most film manufacturers offer strong product warranties of 10-15 years when installed by a certified technician.
Applied on the interior surface of window, door and lobby glass, these films are safe to clean with commercial cleaners and are available in clear (near invisible) and tinted versions. Tinted security films offer visual security as well as physical protection by creating one-way visibility through glass from the interior view (see below image). During the daytime, building occupants are able to view out through doors and windows without being seen from the exterior.
High quality security films can be installed by certified professionals for as little as 6-10$ per square foot of glass treated. Costs will vary depending on gauge of film, whether an attachment or anchoring system is used and the size and scope of the installation project. Security film with anchoring systems (described below) costs between 10-18$ psf , can typically be installed off hours and within a day or two once turn-key crews arrive on site.
What Security Films Will Not Do:
Security window films will not strengthen, keep from breaking or make glass ‘bullet proof‘. The best way to describe the performance of installed security window films is to compare the results to the performance of a broken windshield after a car collision. Upon impact, the glass will break, but the shards of glass are kept together through the lamination process – often times held in place – protecting occupants from glass fragmentation.
For ‘forced entry’ events, security window films are proven to significantly slow access through glass, buying time for occupants to respond. Often, criminals confronted with secured glass flee the scene once realizing that entry to the space is unexpectedly impeded (see videos).
Maximum Protection Window Film Systems
For enhanced protection, Window Film Depot recommends that clients and security professionals have security films anchored to the window frame with either a structural caulk, like 3M’s IPA system or a mechanical attachment system, like the ‘no-bar’ system developed by Hanita Coatings from Israel (pictured below).
The film-with-anchor system increases overall performance by making it substantially more difficult to gain entrance through a window or door opening once the glass is shattered by impact. With this two part film-with-anchor system, the broken glass with security film applied is fastened to the frame making access to the space considerably more difficult to gain.
When considering security window films as part of your safety plan, it’s critical to understand the benefits as well as the limitations of these important products. The best designed system retro-fitted properly to your existing windows and doors is an important layer of defense effective at its primary purpose – buying time.
For more information, please contact:
Jeff Franson, CEO, Window Film Depot 404-313-1291