Does Window Security Film Really Work?
Essential window film information for homeowners, business owners, and building owners who want to improve the comfort, safety, and energy efficiency of their buildings.
This article will cover everything you need to know about security window films.
Without glass windows and doors, our homes and offices would be similar to prison cells. The glass in our homes allows us to feel connected to the outside world and provide light and warmth to our homes and offices. However, in terms of security, glass windows are among the most significant weak points in our buildings today.
Glass is relatively weak in terms of resistance to impact and force. It can be broken with simple tools and minimal force, allowing entry into your home or office.
Tempered glass is even easier to break. See the image below. With a simple tool, the glass can be easily broken into small pieces and pushed out of the way with little effort.
This is important because most doors, sliding doors, and windows around doors are made from tempered glass due to building construction codes for safety purposes. This applies to homes and commercial buildings.
Security window films are used to enhance the safety of regular glass by strengthening it. They're used to help protect against break-ins, vandalism, accidents, terrorist bomb attacks, and natural disasters. Some security film types can also reduce heat to a building or minimize the damaging effects of ultraviolet rays.
So are security films worth it? We absolutely believe they are!
Tempered glass breaks into small little pieces when broken.
Using a small punch tool can easily shatter the entire glass piece.
Let’s discuss the cons of security window film.
Security window film is not bulletproof! We repeat, it is not bulletproof!
The truth is there is no such thing as bulletproof window film, despite many deceptive ads and videos that mislead consumers. It can, however, reduce the time it takes for an active shooter to gain entry into a building. This can help increase the time occupants have to flee to safety.
Window film does not stop the glass from breaking.
Customers often misunderstand that security window film will stop the glass from breaking during an impact. This is not true. The glass will still break and shatter. However, the window film will hold the shattered glass together, not allowing glass shards to fall out of the window frame.
Security film for windows works similar to automotive windshield glass. The windshield's lamination keeps the glass from shattering upon impact, just like a rock that hits your windshield may cause a hole or chip, but the overall glass piece remains intact.
Security window film is not an impenetrable barrier!
Another misconception we often face is customers believe once the film is installed, the glass windows are impenetrable. Security film is no substitute for a security door or metal guards. The window film provides precious time to get help and escape from danger or alert you of danger. Given enough time, effort, and proper tools, it's possible to still break through the security film.
Often burglarers are looking to take advantage of easy opportunities. They want to make a quick escape, so anytime you can increase the effort needed to break-in increases your chances of avoiding being a victim. If a window does not break or shatter as expected, the thief could be startled. This causes confusion, and many will choose to leave the scene immediately instead of pursuing what they’re after.
Any slow down that discourages intruders is valuable. With security window film, they have to chip away at it until they can make a hole big enough. That extra time and activity make it more likely you or a neighbor will notice what’s going on.
Security window film is not a good option for every window.
If your glass is old or particularly vulnerable, window film may not add much strength to the window. For example, if you have old window frames that are rotted or damaged, they may not be strong enough to resist any impact.
See how the glass is still broken upon impact
but the film holds the glass together.
What are the pros of security window film?
Security window films when installed correctly are hard to notice on the glass once installed. They do not reduce the amount of light entering through your windows and they do not obstruct your views.
However, some of the thicker window films can be slightly more noticeable and may have a slightly hazy appearance in direct sunlight. Your professional installation company should be able to provide you with samples and discuss the possibility of a visibility issue.
Security window film also comes with privacy options for buildings with windows that open to public-facing streets that require strengthening to protect people and property from bad actors. Often burglars will scope out homes and businesses by looking through windows for enticing valuables.
Burglars may also look for indicators that a building is empty or someone is home alone. With privacy security films for windows, it becomes near impossible for intruders to see targets or know which rooms are occupied. Window films can also be used to change the look of your building or be decorative in nature.
Another benefit of security window film is its ability to hold the glass in place when impacted. This provides a layer of protection and minimizes injury from broken glass due to earthquakes, burglaries, or accidents.
In the case of an attempted burglary, anything that would delay entry is a benefit. Security window film can make your windows hard to break into. This can give your windows up to 3 minutes of delay. Those extra minutes are valuable. The longer it takes for an intruder to enter the building, the less likely they will succeed. It also gives you time to respond by exiting, turning on security lights, or calling the authorities.
All security window films have UV protection and reduce almost all the UV light coming in through your windows. This can help prolong your interior valuables and furniture. While it's not as effective as solar control films, it’s a welcome additional feature for most customers.
How are security window films made?
Window security film is made up of one or more layers of polyester film that has been laminated together with unique adhesives. They can range in thickness from 4 mils to 15 mils or higher.
Generally, the thicker the film, the more durable and less likely it is to be broken, torn, or punctured. Thinner films are more often used for tinting or solar protection when optical quality is of high importance.
However, some manufacturers make thinner films with nanotechnology that are even stronger than thicker films, but the cost is higher.
For example, there are eight mil thick nano-layered films that test as well as 15 mil standard security films. These multilayer thin security films are beneficial because the tear strength is higher than traditional security films, making them stronger to resist bomb blasts, forced entry, and extreme weather events.
It’s an essential topic of conversation when it comes to security window films. With thicker security films, often you start to lose a little optical quality. In most cases, this is not important, but it’s a topic to consider in making a decision.
What are the costs of window security film?
The cost of the security film varies depending on several factors. There are different types of protective films with other benefits and different price points. We’ve written a comprehensive pricing article that helps explain these factors here.
With that said, we estimate that the average cost is as low as $7 per square foot and can go as high as $15 per square foot or higher. For example, adding a security film to a 3' x 5' window will cost you $105 to $225 or more, depending on the installation.
You may also want to consider adding anchoring to your security window film installation, depending on your windows and the type of glass being treated with the film. An excellent example of this would be for installation on tempered glass, as we discussed in this article. Adding attachments or anchoring to the installation will increase the cost.
Alternatives to security window film
Cover your windows - Covering your windows with blinds, shades, curtains, or privacy window film so a potential thief cannot see inside is a simple yet effective way to prevent theft. If a burglar can look inside, they might see valuables that would entice them to break in.
Make Windows Hard To Get To - Planting thorny shrubs and bushes under your windows can make them less attractive to peer through or enter your dwelling through. Rose bushes won't just make your landscaping more attractive, but they can also be a great deterrent.
Install Window Lock- Key-operated locks are probably the best locks. However, you need to be very careful about how you will exit through the windows in case of an emergency, and in some areas, this could be against building codes.
Window Guards - One option to make your windows more secure is to install window guards or security screens. These can provide excellent security yet still allow residents emergency evacuation of the home. Just be sure to have the keys readily at hand. And as stated above, if you have more than one window guard, have them all keyed to the same key. You want to make it difficult for intruders to get in but easy for you to get out in an emergency.
Window grills and bars are not attractive and remind us of the dangers in the world and lower your home's value and appearance. There are the various accordion and scissor grilles that will protect without sealing off your escape route. Besides, many of our customers find our Crimsafe screens are an attractive alternative to bars and grilles. You can research which types will fit your home.
What are the security window film options?
Installing safety films is one of the security measures we highly encourage our customers to invest in. However, just like any security measure, it's not perfect. It's a great deterrent for burglars whose mindset is simply breaking in through windows. Unfortunately, most burglars gain access to homes using different methods. For example, some simply kick down doors. If you want protection from that, we have a strong solution that allows you to prevent this but also get air flow using our Crimsafe security screens.
We offer several types of security window film to suit different needs. The biggest question you’ll need to ask yourself is whether you want a safety film for security reasons or if you want it to offer sun protection as well.
Ultra Prestige Series
The Ultra Prestige Series offers the most comprehensive coverage through 3M’s protective film series. This protective film is made using a multi-layered process that creates a solid product. When a hole is punched through a window with this coating, it won’t expand or stretch open past the initial gap. This film rejects up to 60% of the heat coming through your window, which provides a drastic reduction in cooling requirements. Also, it filters out 97% of the sun’s infrared rays and 99.9% of harmful UV rays.
The Ultra Series doesn’t include sun protection. It’s designed to be a clear, nearly invisible film. This makes it an excellent option for anyone living in a moderate climate who doesn't want to reduce sunshine in their home. However, if you’re interested in sun protection, the Ultra Series can be combined with tinted film to offer sun control.
The main benefit of the Ultra Series is its superior resistance to impact and tearing. It’s designed to protect windows from a variety of different impacts and attacks. This film alone has repelled burglars and given them cause to give up and move on.
Despite offering less comprehensive coverage than the other two films, the Safety Series does make your windows significantly more robust and less vulnerable to break-ins.
The Safety Series film is made up of a thick adhesive that keeps glass from shattering after an impact and is available in 7, 8, and 14 mil sizes. Like the Ultra Series, the Safety Series can be paired with a sun control film to reduce HVAC costs.
Finally, unlike the other two options, the Safety Series comes with a lifetime warranty from 3M for homeowners and a 10-year warranty for commercial buildings.
Finally, we have another option which is a safety film combined with a frosted film. This is great for areas that need security film but also want to obstruct the view and still allow light to enter the window.
Window film anchoring comes in two variants, mechanical or wet glaze. The window film and anchoring system are only as strong as what they are being attached to. For example, applying a safety window film to tempered glass without an anchoring system will provide very little benefit against forced entry protection. Tempered glass breaks into little pieces when broken. Therefore, if the window film is not anchored to the window frame, the glass has little to support itself once broken.
You can expect that adding anchoring to your window film project will increase the costs of the project but the increased security is well worth the investment.
Which Film is Right For Your Situation?
Choosing the right film means comparing the cost to the benefits. If you’re worried about burglaries or break and entries, then the Safety Series is ideal for you. On the other hand, if your primary concern is break-ins, then the Ultra Series is the best choice.
Finally, if you live in a hot climate, the Ultra Prestige Series will pay for itself with the energy savings it will bring to your home. Of course, it will also offer strong protection against burglars.
Security window film is also good for home renters because it’s relatively inexpensive and won’t hinder you from getting your renters deposit back. You’re not spending too much money on something you’ll leave behind when you move (film is removable but not reusable). Ask permission first, but most landlords will be happy to have it.
Our team is very well educated in these safety window film options and can help determine the best fit for your homes or business. Contact the ClimatePro team for more information.
Does security window film actually work?
We hope through this article’s content, we’ve clearly outlined the cons and pros of security window film in an unbiased manner. Installing safety films is one of the security measures we highly encourage our customers to invest in. We believe it’s a valuable safety solution. Still, just like any security measure, it's not perfect. It's an excellent deterrent for burglars who break in through windows, but burglars can still gain access to homes using different methods. So it’s not the end-all solution. For example, some burglars are brazen and simply kick down doors.
They are also burglars that don't use as much force. They are the most cunning type, gaining access by exploiting your home's weakness. Ideally, we suppose you want to ensure your home's security. In that case, we recommend covering all bases—safety film for your windows, door braces for your doors, and a monitored security system to ensure that if a break-in occurs, it's instantly reported to the proper authorities.
Overall, home security is an evolving field that could be covered in great detail, not included in this article. It doesn't stop with just safety films. Additional measures need to be taken, and it's up to you, as the homeowner or business owner, to assess your security needs and patch any weakness you can find. If you do that continually, you can gain peace of mind knowing that your property is protected.
- None of these solutions are bulletproof. A motivated intruder can still get in. The key is to make it much harder.
- Film is the go-to choice for most people because it’s affordable, and doesn’t involve changing anything else about the window/door.
- If your glass is old or particularly vulnerable, security window film may not work well for you.
- Film is great for renters because it may not forfeit your deposit and you’re not spending large sums of money on something you’ll leave behind when you move (film is removable but not reusable). Get permission first, but most landlords will be happy to have it.
- We estimate that the average cost is as low as $7 per square foot and can go as high as $15 per square foot or higher. For example, adding a security film to a 3' x 5' window will cost you $105 to $225, or more depending on the installation.
- Security films tend to be 4 to 12 mil thick. A mil is one-thousandth of an inch (0.001 inches), so an 8 mil window film is 0.008 inch thick.
- Films can be (near) invisible or more opaque to add privacy as well as security. Not all films labeled “privacy” or “security” actually help with hardening your glass, as some marketers use the word “security” in the sense that privacy = security.
- Some film reduces UV rays, keeping your home cooler and with less sun damage to furniture, flooring, etc.