Glass surfaces are vulnerable to many accidents like fires, explosions and earthquakes. They’re the first ones to break because they’re the thinnest line between the interior and exterior of a house or building.
Due to being the weakest line of protection from the outside world, they’re also more susceptible to break in attempts orchestrated by burglars and kidnappers.
The risks of these unfortunate situations can be reduced or completely avoided by covering glass surfaces with window security film in order to make them stronger and more resistant. Here’s a more detailed look on how security film can help in various situations:
Benefits of Window Security Film
Oftentimes burglars will break through the window or glass door by smashing the glass surface. Even if you have advanced locks installed on entry points, they won’t do much if the glass can be easily broken and your home opened from the inside.
Burglars can use a tactical pen with a glass shattering end, a hammer that you left in the yard while you were fixing the bird house or a plain old rock.
Window security film can keep the broken glass in place for longer, so that more force and noise have to be made for any break in attempt. There are also some shatter-proof and bullet-proof films that require drastic amount of effort to break through. The best ones are mentioned below.
Standard glass panels will brake into large shards when confronted by high temperatures. This can be dangerous for those standing next to a window or glass door at the moment it happens.
The large shards can also make it more dangerous to exit in case of an emergency. Window security film can keep the glass shards in place and ensure a safer emergency exit without large spiky glass getting in the way.
A strong explosion will shatter regular glass with ease. The sharp pieces can fly all over the place and cause serious damage to everyone in area.
The explosion could originally happen somewhere else, at a neighbors place or some building down the street. But if it’s strong enough the result could still be tragic for nearby residents as glass shards fly across the living rooms in search of flesh.
Strong ground vibrations can also result in broken glass. If you live in an area that is prone to seismic activity, security film or stronger, tempered glass panels can definitely be a worthwhile investment even from a strictly financial angle.
There are transparent and privacy window films. The latter are available in many different designs that can also be highly decorative. Some are see-through from the inside to the outside as well. However, keep in mind that most privacy window films are not meant for security purposes.
So if that’s your main concern make sure that they’re primarily designed for security. Even so, basic privacy film can still add some protection as it will hold the glass together better than if there was nothing.
There isn’t much we can do about other people’s negligence or harmful intentions, or the whims of Mother Nature. However, we have power over one facet of reality; the amount of effort we’re willing to place into our own home security. We can reduce the dangers from mostly uncontrollable events by covering glass surfaces with reliable security film.
But what makes a window security film effective? Here are the main features to look for.
Buyer’s Guide for Window Security Film
The thickness of the film is important for its security benefits, and is often the determining factor in pricing. The general rule is the thicker the better. However, there are some exceptions to the rule.
The higher priced security films are often designed to be thinner and stronger at the same time than their thicker competitors, hence the bigger price tag.
These are typically used by military, FBI, large corporations, governments, banks etc. But they’re available for homeowners who aren’t afraid to spend a little extra as well. This is a security film that belongs in that category. It’s not too thick but it’s virtually shatterproof.
For low-to-medium priced security film, 4 mil is the minimum that provides tangible security benefits. I would personally not go for less than 8 mil thickness, and for extra protection there are some 12 mil thick options as well.
Static cling vs. adhesive
You’ll find these two different application methods when buying window film. Usually security window film will have a strong adhesive backing, while privacy film can sometimes have a static “cling” instead. Here are the main differences:
Static cling: When pressed onto a surface, it reacts like a mini suction cup to ‘like surfaces’, or items with similar cohesive force.
Smooth, non-porous surfaces work best for cling, such as windows or glass display cases. The best part about static cling film is that it can be re-positioned or removed fairly easily.
The main downside is that it’s not as protective of the surface since it doesn’t adhere to it as strongly as a film with a self-adhesive backside.
The other significant downside is that the cling can be jeopardized by dust and other small particles building up underneath it.
Adhesive cling: Refers to pressure sensitive adhesives that bond to the surface more strongly. This is the preferred option for security.
This type of film is also more versatile because it can stick better to various surfaces, not just completely smooth ones. They’re less impacted by environmental factors and can last longer. It’s also easier to die cut them.
The main downside is that they’re more difficult to re-position or remove due to adhering more strongly to the surface.
Make sure that you buy a large enough sheet or roll of film for your window or multiple windows. It can be difficult to find the 100% correct dimensions, so you might have to trim it down with a razor blade to fit your glass surface.
Here is a good video tutorial that you can follow. You should be as precise as you can when trimming down, but it’s not a surgical operation. As long as you can fit it on the surface and cover 95 percent of the surface or more, it will provide all the benefits and look good as well.
Best Window Security Films
I recommend using one of the following 4 films for security against forced break-ins. But they’re not designed for improving privacy, since they’re transparent. The only exception is the extra dark BDF film which combines security and some privacy benefits, but only during daytime.
This doesn’t mean you have to choose between one or the other. You can combine security film and privacy film by placing the privacy film on top of the security film. Or use curtains or blinds. You can also check the best privacy films in the following section of this article.
1. BDF Security Window Film
I actually have some experience with it which is why I place it on the #1 spot. I came in contact with this product when I was working in an office building as a security guard. This film was installed on exterior ground-floor windows of the building. A few weeks later there was an accident. Someone threw a rock at one of the windows and it cracked, but the glass stayed in place.
I didn’t see the event when it happened. But judging by the size of the rock that was probably used and the large crack that it left on the window, I’m pretty sure that it would’ve shattered completely if it weren’t for the film. Was it a break-in attempt or someone got fired and decided to exact revenge on the poor window? Only God knows.
Having said that, I’m not sure if it was 4 mil or 8 mil thick because I wasn’t really paying attention to this detail at the time. But if you want to be on the safe side, I suggest going with the thicker option anyway.
This film has a strong adhesive so it takes very little effort to stick it unto the surface. For easier installation, the manufacturer recommends using A LOT of soap/water mixture to soak both the adhesive side and window.
There are 13 different dimensions available on Amazon. As the product description states, it can be used on un-tempered and tempered glass. It’s a fully transparent, crystal clear window film, and it provides 99% UV rejection.
However there is also an extra dark 8 mil BDF film for security AND privacy. When it’s bright outside, you can’t see inside the home. But when it’s dark outside and the lights are turned on inside, you can see inside. So it’s more of a daytime privacy. It’s fully non-reflective.
One customer reviewer posted his glass door covered with this security film in the comment section. I’m not allowed to share it here, but you can click on the link above to see it on the product page.
2. Gordon Glass 12 Mil Security Window Film
Installing it is pretty much the same as the BDF film. It has a strong adhesive backside so just stick it on the surface and you’re good to go.
However, it’s available in only one dimension: 30 x 25 ft. If you order more, it’s sent as one continuous roll up to 50 ft. So you might have to do some extra trimming with this one.
According to users, trimming it with razors will take time and plenty of razors, since the film is quite thick. Trimming with scissors is easier and takes less time.
Gordon Glass also has the same type of security film in 8 mil thickness in a 60″ wide x 10 ft roll. In this case, if multiple quantities are ordered they ship it as one continuous roll up to 98 ft. I’d personally go with BDF that is 8 mil thick instead, simply because more people have tried it and had great experience with it.
3. VViViD 12 Mil Shatterproof Window Film
The film is coated with a rubber-based adhesive that spreads impact over a large surface area so it might add some additional security when compared to other films.
But the most important practical difference is that it’s available in 6 different sizes so you can order the amount you need more precisely.
Many users have given this security film on Amazon great reviews, while a few of them had issues. One user claims that installation was difficult and that it left folds on some places which he couldn’t straighten out. Another one has had similar experience, stating that there were bubbles and some lines as well.
One user claims that he got BDF that is 8 mil thick (my first recommendation) and this security film. When he compared them he realized that the BDF film was actually thicker than this supposedly 12 mil one!
Keep in mind that these poor reviews are still in the minority and most users are happy with it. But.. if you don’t want to take any chances, the other products on this list seem to be more reliable when we analyze the overall user experience.
4. ShatterGard Security Film 36×25
This USA made security film is the best one on the market. It’s used by the FBI, Best Buy, The US Military, Bank of America and a host of other large institutions and corporations. The reason why it’s so popular (and a bit more expensive) is its powerful resistance to violent blows and bullets.
It’s not fully bullet proof but it can reduce their impact substantially. It was reported by the manufacturer that it was able to stop some small caliber bullets from penetrating a protected window.
However, it wasn’t made clear if it was tempered glass or not, so there could be other factors that helped in stopping the bullet. Officially it’s not bullet-proof, but we can assume that it comes closer to being so than other security films on the market.
It also won’t effect any glass shadder alarms if you have them installed. In other words, the alarm will still go off if someone tries to break in despite of not being able to break through the glass.
It would take a lot of force to break through this glass film, making it essentially burglar proof. Unless your home is vacant and in the wilderness of course. Because in that case the intruder would have a lot of time and wouldn’t have to worry about making noise.
But in a regular neighborhood this window film provides close to 100% security as far as windows or glass doors are concerned. It’s also fully transparent, basically invisible, so it doesn’t ruin the view in any way.
ShatterGard film comes with installation instructions, all the necessary installation tools and a lifetime warranty. Almost every user review that I’ve seen (and you can read them on the product page) has mentioned that it’s very easy to install. Sometimes poorer quality film can leave bubbles, fold or be difficult to trim down. But this film doesn’t seem to have any of those problems.
I can’t really find any faults with this security film, other than the price, which might be too much for some people’s budget. But if you’re willing to invest in it, it can definitely pay off down the road thanks to both improved longevity and better security and safety benefits. You can check the current price and more reviews on Amazon.
Best Window Privacy Film
If you want to improve the privacy of your home or business, you should definitely invest in privacy film or thick curtains or shades.
Break-ins usually happen after careful planning by the perpetrator. An intruder will monitor the daily routine of the residents and inspect the interior of the target through windows and glass doors. He looks for valuables such as expensive electronics, ways of taking them out without being noticed and other security weaknesses that can be exploited.
On top of that, glass surfaces can reveal when the home is vacant and when it’s not. But with privacy film or curtains covering the glass, a break-in attempt is a much riskier enterprise. These are some excellent privacy films you can use in a home and business setting.
1. Rabbitgoo 3d Decorative Privacy Window Film (Semi-Private)
First of all it doesn’t require any glue or adhesive because it uses static cling. This makes it easier to re-position or remove from the surface, without it leaving any residue.
It also provides energy saving capabilities due to its heat-control vinyl material. So in winter if retains heat inside, and in summer it keeps heat outside of your home. It blocks 96% UV rays as well.
As far as privacy is concerned, this is more of a semi-private decorative film. It blurs the view from the outside and allows light to come through.
But some movements can still be noticed from the outside, so it’s not recommended for bathrooms or toilet rooms since there are films available that provide maximum privacy.
I think this is a great choice for those who want a mixture of decoration and improved privacy on any glass surface. There are different dimensions available. So I suggest getting the one that’s closest to your window’s requirements and trimming it down with scissors of a knife to fit it in properly.
2. Rabbitgoo Frosted White Window Film (Full Privacy)
It doesn’t contain any adhesives and instead uses static cling. Because of this it can be applied or removed from any glass surface in a couple of minutes or less. It also allows light from the outside to pass in, blocks UV rays and provides extra thermal insulation as well.
One downside is that the privacy is a two way street with this type of privacy film. No one can see inside, but you can’t see outside through this film either. However, this is why it’s a good solution for smaller windows in bathrooms and also glass surfaces that separate one room from another.
On the flip side, this film is really affordable (around $10). See the available dimensions and current price on Amazon.
3. HIDBEA One Way Mirror Glass Film
You probably know at least a few buildings that use a one way mirror glass film. It’s a very popular solution especially for offices, but it can also fit well on some modernly designed homes.
The benefit of this film is a clear view while you are inside, while no one can see you from the outside. As shown on the photo, it provides a mirrored reflection of outside environment and provides full daytime privacy. It also blocks strong sunlight and filters harmful UV, while you can still enjoy the sunshine.
This is also a static cling film, so it’s 100% glue free. It should be installed on the interior side. This can be done by one person even on larger surfaces like sliding glass doors without worrying about bubbles or folds. Due to improved thickness and flexible material, it’s pretty durable and can be removed or reinstalled easily on another surface anytime.
Unlike the decorative film that provides semi-privacy, this one provides it in full. So if privacy is your #1 concern you can solve it completely with this film while keeping your nice view as it is. You can check out the current price, installation and user reviews on Amazon.
Window Security Film Installation Guide
There are two ways you can go about installing window security film; do it yourself or hire a professional. If you want to hire a professional there are two solid options available:
1. Hire a local handyman: Make sure that he/she pays attention to details. This is very important because you want the film to nicely adhere to the window without any bubbles or scratches. Otherwise there’s no point in hiring a professional. So make sure that the pro isn’t in a hurry.
2. DIY: If you want to install the security film by yourself, here’s a simple step-by-step guide:
- Cut a layer of window film slightly larger than the window with scissors
- Set out: squeegee, exacto knife and razor blade
- Lightly remove the dirt on the glass with the razor
- Spray the window with glass cleaner
- Wipe down with a cloth or paper towels
- Put a layer back on the window, then trim it to fit the window by removing excess with the knife (or scissors if it’s more convenient for you)
- Remove the layer and place to the side
- Wipe the glass again to remove any dust from the layer
- Spray the window film application solution onto the glass
- Start to remove the thick protective layer from the film
- Spray the sticky side of the film with the application solution as you slowly remove it
- Place the film on the glass, making sure that it doesn’t fold
- Once the film is secured on the glass surface, spray it from the outside (to keep scratches off for the next step)
- Use the squeegee to push out the air bubbles
- When you’re done, wipe excess solution with a paper towel
Here is a video demonstration of these steps:
As you’re watching, keep in mind that you need to cut only one layer of film for covering one side of the glass surface. The second layer that was cut in the video is not necessary, unless you want to cover both the interior and exterior side of the glass.
Now you might be wondering if you should cover both sides? Manufacturers typically suggest placing the film on only one side. Using it on both sides can definitely add some extra security, but it could also reduce visibility if you don’t align them well. If you’re installing window film for the first time I suggest doing only one side first, and doing the second side later if you want.
The products that were used for installation (window film application solution + flexible card squeegee + utility knife) are available on Amazon: Gila Window Film Complete Installation Kit
Final Words on Glass Security Film
Modern architects use more glass surfaces on a single apartment building than was used to build large cathedrals in the past.
Glass can look amazing and provide a more spacious effect to ones home, especially smaller rooms. But the security problem is obvious, as glass is a relatively thin and vulnerably material. It’s the weakest link in case of natural catastrophes and is often exploited by intruders looking for an easy entry point.
By using security film and privacy film on your glass doors and windows you can minimize the risk of this happening. So I hope this article helps you do exactly that. And if you need more home security tips, check out the home security section of the website.