Many people may not think of a broken window as a big deal, but they can be expensive and dangerous. If you have a reason to believe that your windows are vulnerable to any kind of threat, you might want to consider investing in window security film.
Window security film is a protective layer for your windows that makes them more resistant to breakage. It provides several benefits, including UV protection and privacy as well as extra security. It does not, however, render windows bulletproof.
If you are considering getting a window security film for your windows, there are many things that you should know. Read on to figure out whether this would be a worthy investment for you.
Window security film is a plastic film that you apply over the surface of your windowpane. It has a few different features:
- It is thin and micro-layered.
- It makes the glass harder to break.
- Even if the glass does break, it keeps the pieces in place when the glass would otherwise shatter into several pieces.
- Putting it on top of windows is a relatively simple process, although it is recommended that you have a professional do it.
Window security film works in a way that is comparable to automotive windshield glass. It stops the glass from shattering completely upon impact, even if something hits it hard and causes a crack or hole. It is also like laminated security glass, which consists of a PVB (polyvinyl butyral) layer between two layers of glass, melded together within an autoclave.
The main difference between laminated security glass and window security film on a window is that the window security film is something you can just add on top of existing glass.
Other benefits of using window security film include:
- Options for privacy. There are security films that are tinted so that people on the outside will not be able to see valuables inside the building or know which rooms are occupied.
- Temperature control. Tinted window security film also blocks direct sunlight rays that can cause buildings to overheat in the summer and helps keep warm air in the building when it is cold. This can help you save money on electricity.
- UV protection. There are window security films that also function to block out ultraviolet light. This light is not only potentially damaging to your skin and eyes, but it can also cause furniture, carpet, and even artwork in your home to fade and discolor.
Window security film does provide a substantial level of protection. It can help in the following ways:
It makes it harder to break the windows. In case an intruder is trying to get in, it can delay their entry. They will have to use much more force to get in, which will give you time to hide and call the authorities.
- It holds the glass in place if the windows are broken. This way, it is less likely that stray shards of glass will cause injury to people in the building.
There are many situations in which you would benefit from using window security films, such as forced entry attempts, vandalism, accidents, and severe weather.
While window security film can be useful and has become stronger over the years, it does not render your windows completely shatterproof or bulletproof. It just makes them harder to break. If you are in the unfortunate situation where you are in a building that is vulnerable to gunfire, you will need something more durable for your windows.
In situations where you want powerful protection against glass breakage, here are some other options:
- DefenseLite is a window glazing solution that is 250 times stronger than glass. Rather than being a security film that you would apply, it is a heavy gauge architectural-grade polycarbonate that you would put over your window for protection.
- BulletShield is an even more durable version of DefenseLite. It has been tested extensively, and it has demonstrated an ability to protect windows from all sorts of blows, including those dealt by hammers and hatchets.
- Bulletproof glass is the most indestructible glass that you can buy. Specifically, you would want UL-rated bullet-resistant glass. UL will give the material a rating between 1 and 8, with the higher ratings indicating that the glass can stop more bullets.
- Glass with ratings of 4 to 8 will usually be reserved for military and government facilities.
- Glass with ratings between 1 and 3 will be sufficient for most people who are looking to make their home or business safer
On average, window security film can delay forced entry by about 30 to 45 seconds. In contrast, DefenseLite, BulletShield, and bulletproof glass can prevent most of these forced entry attempts altogether. If you want to make your glass shatterproof, you could choose one of these options over window security film.
Window security film is more affordable than DefenseLite, BulletShield, or bulletproof glass. Typically, when it comes to security, the more expensive the material is, the better it will be at protecting you.
Since it is an investment, you should only use window security film if you have had a comprehensive security assessment done. The assessment will tell you whether you need it, as well as where you should use it and the type of security film that would be optimal for you.
Many organizations conduct these assessments. They involve a thorough review of not only physical security but also technological systems and policies (if you are having a business assessed). The costs can vary based on the level of expertise of the assessor and the tasks that need to be done, typically ranging from $1,000 to $50,000.
These assessments can involve several components, such as:
- Vulnerability Assessment. This is a security review that will use different tools to scan all systems for weaknesses or gaps in security. This will also include the provision of an assessment document and a comprehensive improvement plan.
- Penetration Test. Here, an expert will show you potential security breaches by taking advantage of vulnerabilities in the system.
- Security Posture Review. This is a simple, non-invasive review of policies and procedures that assesses current security measures.
The security assessment will likely include an analysis of the types of threats that your windows may face, such as:
- Forced entry attempts
- Vandalization attempts
- Severe weather
The security assessment will not be able to tell you how likely accidents are. Still, they can tell you how likely you are to be the victim of a crime that may involve your windows being broken, given your area of residence. You can also research the weather in your area to see which weather issues you may encounter.
Most Popular Window Security Film
Some people may think that this is as simple as laying contact paper down on a surface. However, there is a bit more to it. Therefore, you may want to consider hiring professionals for this job.
Generally, a professional will install the film on a retrofit basis. They will:
- Measure the window carefully
- Cut the film to fit the window
- Apply the film to the glass using a special adhesive
There are a few different methods of installation that may be appropriate, depending on the situation:
- Daylight method. The film is applied to the window with a tiny gap between the film and frame. This method provides a significant amount of protection against flying shards of glass and forced entry in most cases. Still, some experts feel that it does not provide adequate protection against very aggressive attacks.
- Anchored method. This method involves a material used to attach the film to the window, which makes the security film more effective. There are two types of anchored methods: wet method and mechanical method.
- Wet method. With this method, the installer will utilize an adhesive sealant around every edge of the frame, creating a very tight connection. This involves a smaller gap than the daylight method does.
- Mechanical method. This method involves overlapping the film over the window frame and attaching it using a device, such as metal batten strips.
There are a few common mistakes that people make when applying window security film. These are as follows:
- Not taking glass breakage sensors into account. These are a component of many burglar alarm systems; they can tell you when a window has been broken. If you use window security film, the effectiveness of these devices can be reduced. It is essential to notify the alarm company before you have the film installed and test the sensors after installation.
- Not cleaning the glass. Make sure that you clean the glass well. Even little pieces of dirt or debris can cause a big problem with a layer that you are planning to apply permanently. It can create a dirty, unattractive appearance. More importantly, it can make it difficult for the film to properly adhere to the glass, making it much less effective.
- Using chemicals to clean the glass. Too many people make the mistake of using rubbing alcohol or other chemicals to clean their windows. These will leave residue on the glass surface, making it difficult for the film to adhere properly. If your windows are filthy, you should wash them with soap and water or water and vinegar. Afterward, use a glass cleaner to remove any streaks.
- Failing to make sure the window is dry. You must make sure that the window is completely dry after you clean it before applying the film. Otherwise, it might be a challenge trying to get the film to adhere to the window.
- Failing to remove air bubbles. If there are air bubbles between the film in the window, this might make it easy for the film to peel off. Also, it will make the film itself more visible, which most people do not want.
- Waiting too long to apply the film after cleaning the window. Once you have cleaned your windows, you will want to apply the security film as soon as possible. If you allow too much time to pass, more debris will cling to the windows.
Some consumers are under the impression that security films cannot be installed on dual-pane or Low-E glass, but this is not true. There are a plethora of products specifically designed to be installed on dual-pane, such as the KESPEN One Way Window Film, and Low-E glass designs, including the rabbitgoo Window Privacy Film.
It is highly recommended to install window film onto Low-E glass. With the right window films made explicitly for Low-E glass, you can increase the window’s performance without sacrificing light. It is also easier to install on Low-E glass, as you can use lighter and clearer films which are generally less expensive.
However, not all types of window security films indeed work with all types of glass designs. For instance, reflective window films work best with dual-pane windows. Purchasing a non-compatible window film can lead to trouble, such as thermal stress on the glass or seals. Always do your research when purchasing a window film.
There are many different types of window security films you can choose from. Of course, this also means that the prices can vary widely.
Window security films are made for windows of many different sizes. The bigger the sheet of film, the more it is going to cost.
Before you order your film, make sure that you measure your windows precisely. If you are in doubt, get a film that you know is larger than your window. Once you have it, you will be able to trim it down so that it fits your window.
In many cases, you will be able to get a long roll of film that you cut as needed for each one of your windows. If you have several windows in your building, this may be more economical for you.
Thicker security films are going to cost more because they are made from more material. However, the thicker the film, the more durable and effective it will be when it comes to protecting your windows. Most of the time, you will be able to see the thickness of the film (it should be specified in the product description) before you decide to purchase it.
There are many types of window security films available, such as:
- Standard clear films
- Tinted films
- UV protection films
- Anti-graffiti films
Anti-graffiti window security film is designed to prevent any damage to your window that could be caused by vandalism, such as graffiti. If vandals spray paint, etch, or otherwise tag the window, the damage will be absorbed by the film rather than the glass itself. This film is designed to be removed and replaced as soon as the damage has happened.
Some windows are going to be easier to cover with film than others. You may elect to do this yourself, or you may find it easier to hire a professional for the job.
Here are some of the things you need to consider regarding the installation of the film:
- Removing the older film. Old window security film must be removed before adding the new film.
- Access to the windows. You must make sure that there is clear access to each window you want to cover.
- Types of windows. Some windows are harder to cover with film than others. For example, small French windows will take much more time to work on than large windows without dividers.
- Necessary extra equipment. Some windows are too high for you to be able to reach them using a ladder. In these situations, you might need extra equipment, such as scaffolding, scissor lifts, or swing stage equipment.
- Accommodations for hired workers. If you are hiring an installation company for the job, you might need to provide them with overnight accommodations and pay for their travel time.
Some consumers fear that window films can cause windows to break, and they are not entirely wrong, as glass can break under stress.
There are a few different stressors that can lead to breakage, such as:
- Thermal stress (absorbing sun radiation)
- Tensile stress (from weight)
- Mechanical flexing stress (from wind)
- Impact stress (from objects)
- Twisting stress (window frame sagging)
Window security films will benefit your window as they will stave off mechanical and impact stresses. However, window films can cause thermal stress when they are not manufactured or installed correctly.
Since they work to absorb UV rays, some with up to 99% protection, they can cause excess stress on the window when there are flaws in manufacturing or not installed correctly. Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence, especially when an individual tries to install the window film on their own. As a result, plenty of manufacturers have created a 5-year warranty that replaces both windows and films if thermal breakage occurs.
Another important question asked by consumers is how long the window security films last. Several factors determine how long window films last:
- The type of film.
- The type of glass.
- Overall construction and compass orientation of the glass.
- Where the home is located.
High-quality window security films can last up to 25 years. Most manufacturers include warranties with their films so that, if your film is damaged, it can be replaced.
Proper care of your window security film can increase its lifespan and avoid scratches, cracks, and other misfortunes. Here are some useful tips for taking care of window films:
- Always be gentle when caring for security films. You want to avoid using any type of abrasive material. These items can cause instant damage to the film. Do not use excessive pressure, either.
- Use regular window cleaning solutions. Just because you are cleaning a window with a film on top does not mean you should change the materials usually used. Continue to use regular window cleaning solutions, such as Windex or mild soap and water.
- Consider using a squeegee. A squeegee is an excellent device to use when cleaning solution off of the film. Start from top to bottom and wipe when the squeegee becomes dirty. Do not use paper towels as they can be damaging.
- Clean in the direction of the splice. If your film has a splice, always clean in the direction of the splice and use extra caution to avoid further damage.
- Never let the film air dry. Films are not designed to remain wet for extended periods. Make sure that after cleaning, the film is dried off entirely.
The following are a few window security films that people have found to be very useful, although what you will choose will depend on your specific priorities and needs.
- Cost-Effective Option
- Protection against small chips and scratches.
- Made with 4MIL, a thinner yet quality film for security.
- Easily applied on the inside.
- Transparent, yet provides 99% UV light rejection.
This is a very economical option for those who do not have a lot of money to spend. It will provide you with protection, as long as you are not anticipating significant disasters. It is perfect for people who just want to protect their windows from little chips or scratches.
- Made with 8MIL, high-quality, and durable film material.
- Absorbs impact readily, from break-ins to baseballs.
- Holds shattered glass together for safety.
- Temper or non-tempered.
- Blocks 99% of UV light.
If you want a thicker and stronger option from BDF, this is the one for you, at 8 MIL. It is very good at absorbing impacts from break-in attempts and baseballs that might fly in from the backyard. It holds shattered glass together, which is essential for your safety. You can apply it to both tempered and non-tempered glass. It is clear and blocks out 99% of UV light.
- Colored film with a stained glass appearance.
- Extra privacy from frosted appearance.
- Blocks 96% of UV light.
- Applied easily using static cling.
This is an excellent option for someone who wants a colored film that will spruce up their home. It has the appearance of stained, frosted glass, which is not only attractive but also gives you plenty of privacy as it makes it very hard for people to look in. It is incredibly affordable, giving you class without taking lots of cash.
This film blocks out 96% of UV rays, which protects your skin and also prevents unnecessary damage to your furniture. It adheres to your window using static cling, so you do not have to use any glue that could be sticky or toxic.
- Provides a white orchid pattern on the window.
- Effortless to install.
- More for privacy than durability.
- Blocks UV rays.
This is another fantastic option if you want an attractive window to look at. It gives you a white orchid pattern that can liven the decor within your home. It is also effortless to install, and you don’t need to hire professionals for this particular film. This film is primarily for those who want privacy, rather than the most durable security film available.
You do not need to use any adhesive for this wild film, either. It also functions to reduce the transfer of heat into your home and block UV rays.
Windows can brighten up a home. They allow light into the building, and they can make the atmosphere more cheerful. They can save you a lot of money on electricity since you get much of your light from outside. However, they also make a building more vulnerable since they provide easy ways for someone to break in or cause damage to your home.
Therefore, it is worth looking into window security films and what it can do for you. Even though it is not the very best option in terms of security alone, for many, it is the best affordable option.