In a push to harden schools across the U.S., lawmakers are allocating millions in funds to provide school districts with security glazing materials that help deter and stall attackers. Tennessee is the most recent state to divert funds for school security following the Nashville Covenant School shooting in March 2023. 

The Volunteer State placed aside $230 million for school safety, including $54 million for security upgrades for public and private schools. The upgrades include the installation of “clear, bullet-resistant or entry-resistant film on the glass panel of each exterior entry or basement level window and door.”

While some security window films can help mitigate a ballistic threat by providing additional security, the film does not stop bullets. To do that, bullet-resistant glass is needed. Photo courtesy of Insulgard. 

While some security window films can help mitigate a ballistic threat by providing additional security, the film does not stop bullets. To do that, bullet-resistant glass is needed, says Gerry Sagerman, sales development for Insulgard Products.

“There’s a lot of confusion out there about what some of these security window films can do,” he adds. “There’s not a film out there that I am aware of that is truly bullet resistant; I’m talking about a film that is added to a standard piece of glass, I should say. That’s a concern of ours because there’s a lot of misinformation out there.”

A representative from the International Window Film Association (IWFA) addressed the issue at this past week’s National Glass Association’s Glass Conference

Darrell Smith, IWFA’s executive director, told attendees the association’s stance is that adding security window film to glass that doesn’t have bullet-resistant properties will not make the glass bullet-resistant. 

“If you need to do something immediately … putting a security window film on the glass will slow down entry into the building,” Smith said. However, if a school board has the funding, “laminated glass is the way to go. If you need to do something now, the film will give you some protection and slow them down. That is the only thing you gain. This is a life safety issue, and we all work together there.”

Wade Arnold, commercial sales director for Specialty Fenestration Group, owners of Quikserv and U.S. Bullet Proofing, says window film has its place for privacy, solar control and bird-friendly applications. However, not when it comes to ballistic or blast protection. 

Arnold states that he actively advocates against window film.

“… Security film is purely coating on the inside or the exterior of the glass panes,” he says. “[Window film] companies will tell you, ‘Oh, bullets can go through it, but you won’t be able to push the glass in.’ That’s great, but I have a hole in my chest, but at least the glass held together.”

5 Comments

  1. Film on double pane only causes the seal to fail faster. Or causes heat stress cracks if annealed.

  2. I have had to address this on many occasions and i live on a small island. People are under the misconception that the film will stop a bullet and it wont and if it is applied to tempered glass and you shoot it you can easily push the whole thing in .laminated works best for slowing them down but it will not stop a bullet unless it is 1-1/4 thick or more which means you will need new framing which also needs to be bullet rated or go to 3/4 inch minumum polycarbonate or 1-1/4 acrylic will give you a ballistic rating but again it wont fit in the glazing pocket of the existing glass so new framing is needed and there is the problem of the sun fading it and the cleaning is hard because it scratches easy. People need to understand there is no simple fix for schools other than replacing the glass they want to be covered with a ballistic rated product which is very expensive or maybe consider some form of gun control but that wont happen either unless they want to pay more taxes to secure school kids its one or the other or some of both

  3. I think this could be achieved by adding Riot Glass (retro fit ballistic protection that can be installed on the exterior or interior of the existing aluminum/steel framing). The cost would be less than removing the existing framing and glass and replacing it with framing that will accept 1 1/4” laminated glass. Check it out.

  4. Security fiilm is totally clear and will not crack the glass or fail the seals .
    The film does not absorb any heat !

  5. Did you know that there is a new Forced Entry standard in ASTM that takes into account glass that is shot at to weaken it in an attempt to enter the building? No, it is not bullet-resistant glass, but it is a forced entry glass to help stop the shooter before they enter and a full system test. It has multiple levels to allow the municipalities to determine what they need to use based on risk, threat and vulnerability. The standard is ASTM F3561 titled “Standard Test Method for Forced-Entry-Resistance of Fenestration Systems After Simulated Active Shooter Attack”. If you need a copy http://www.astm.org. If you want to chat about it – my email is included in this response.

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