Impact-resistant glass is often advertised as security glass. Many home and business owners install it on their windows hoping to prevent burglars from smashing the glass and entering their property. But is it really burglar proof or is it just a half measure? Here’s a short answer:
Impact windows are NOT burglar proof. But it takes more effort and noise to break impact-resistant glass than regular glass. In order to smash an impact window to enter your home, the burglar will have to use more force and hit the glass for longer, which increases their risk of being heard.
Why does impact resistant glass remain in place?
Mainly because it’s treated with a layer of PVB (polyvinyl butral) or EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate) which prevents it from shattering into many small pieces.
This layer is often sandwiched between two glass panels. So impact resistant glass usually consists of two glass panels.
In this way it’s very similar to a standard windshield. Instead of having dangerous shards of glass flying all around the place, the window will crack in a spider-web pattern.
Of course, repeated hits will eventually loosen the shards, but it would require more time and effort.
How to make a regular window impact-resistant?
A regular glass panel will shatter in the conventional way because there’s no adhesive holding the shards in place.
But you can use a layer of security window film to get a similar or even better impact-resistance, depending on the film you install.
The film is usually a layer of tough plastic with a strong self-adhesive backside. The backside is attached to the glass so that it covers the entire glass panel.
The adhesive will keep the glass shards in place and some more expensive security films can even contain smaller bullets from breaking through, when combined with a thick glass panel.
Check out my full security window film guide where I share the best DIY installation process and film recommendations.
What type of a window frame is required?
Impact-resistant glass can be placed in any standard window frame; aluminum, steel, vinyl or wood.
If you want the strongest quality, the best option are aluminum and steel frames. But they’re also the most expensive options.
Wooden frames provide good insulation and often look very nice, but they need to be regularly painted and the maintenance costs can be high in the long run.
Vinyl is a solid option and it’s the most cost-effective one, requiring very little maintenance.
Protection against storms and hurricanes
If you live in a windy area that’s susceptible to hurricanes, investing in impact windows can be really worth it.
Strong winds can throw objects on the window, and in case of regular glass the shards can potentially injure people who are nearby when it happens.
Water could also more easily break into your home if you have only regular glass in place. Both of these risks are reduced by using impact-resistant glass or security window film.
But there’s also a huge structural advantage. Because impact windows can prevent sudden and extreme air pressure changes during these dangerous scenarios.
It’s the sudden increase in air pressure entering the house that can blow off a roof or cause a total collapse of the walls.
By increasing the impact resistance of your windows you can better protect yourself against the elements as well as burglars.
Hurricane Resistant vs Impact Resistant Window
While standard impact windows can provide some protection against hurricanes and storms, they’re not as strong as the actual hurricane resistant windows.
The difference can be found in multiple areas: the thickness of the glass, stronger frame and glazing.
The strongest windows usually contain a very strong glazing of PVB combined with a layer of PET (polyethylene terephthalate).
The best windows contain two layers of PVB-treated glass with a PET film in-between. They usually cost between $40 and $60 per square foot of glass area (frame included).
Which option should you go for?
Hurricane-resistant windows are quite expensive, and not really necessary unless you live in an area that has a high risk of severe storms.
For keeping burglars at bay, standard PVB or EVA glazing sandwiched between two glass panels is a good alternative.
So are security window films, which you can easily install by yourself on any glass surface.
Also keep in mind that this isn’t the only way to secure your windows against burglars.
There are many other security devices and tricks available suchh as steel grills, window locks and barricades, security cameras and many others.
Check out my window security guide to learn more about these options.