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Riot Glass® retrofit systems consist of custom-made security glass and framing designs that provide maximum protection against forced entry and ballistic threats.

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Riot Glass® can be used to secure any building. Virtually invisible yet nearly indestructible, it blends seamlessly in almost any existing window, door, or

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Chicago Tempered Glass Alternatives for Better Security

Written By: Brad CampbellFebruary 6, 2023

Burglary and smash-and-grab theft are a big concern for businesses in Chicago and other major cities nationwide.

In order to prevent forced entry and protect your business, it’s important to implement the right security measures to keep the bad guys out.

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of misinformation out there about what exactly works when it comes to protecting commercial properties from criminals. One common misconception is that tempered glass makes your business more secure.

We’re here to clear up this misconception and provide you with alternative solutions that actually work to prevent forced entry.

What Is Tempered Glass and What Are Its Use Cases?

Tempered glass is made using a special heat-treating and cooling process, known as tempering, that hardens and strengthens the glass. This process also changes the way the glass breaks.

When tempered glass breaks, it essentially crumbles into tons of small, granular pieces, which are relatively harmless. 

The primary goal of using tempered glass is to reduce the risks of glass hazards wherever human safety is a concern. 

Unlike standard annealed glass, which breaks apart into sharp, jagged shards that can cause serious injury, tempered glass doesn’t fly dangerously inwards when it shatters due to high force impacts. 

Because of these qualities, tempered glass is a type of safety glass.

chicago tempered glass

Chicago tempered glass applications:

  • Vehicle windows
  • Glass furniture and appliances
  • Shower and tub enclosures
  • Aquariums
  • Architectural glass

Is tempered glass stronger than annealed glass?

The tempering process typically makes tempered safety glass around three or four times stronger and more impact resistant than standard annealed glass, but this doesn’t mean it should be used for security applications.

Many commercial buildings use tempered glass in their architecture, including retail stores with glass storefronts, glass office buildings, and other types of facilities. 

But, it’s important to remember that the sole reason you should use tempered glass in commercial properties is to improve human safety

Tempered safety glass does nothing to prevent forced entry, as it crumbles easily if struck with a sledgehammer or another common burglary tool.

This is why it’s so important for businesses in Chicago and elsewhere to look for alternatives to tempered glass when it comes to improving security.

What Can Chicago Businesses Use Instead of Tempered Glass for Security?

The traditional solution: bars and grates

Window bars and grates are among the most commonly used solutions for preventing forced entry. However, these options are unsightly, block natural light, and reduce visibility. 

Traditional bars and grates may prevent burglars from breaking in, but they also inhibit window shopping and hurt the curb appeal of your business, which simply isn’t an option for certain types of businesses, like luxury retail stores.

Basic forced entry protection: security window film

For business owners that can’t afford to hurt their business’s appearance by installing bars and grates, one popular alternative is security window film.

Security window film is a pliable, plastic-based coating that gets applied directly to the surface of your existing windows and glass doors.

If the glass breaks, the film helps hold the broken shards of glass in place, reducing the risk of glass hazards and delaying forced entry.

forced entry

It’s important to understand that security window film doesn’t prevent glass from breaking, but it does reinforce the glass it’s applied to, making it harder to break through. 

In terms of forced entry protection, the delay to entry provided by this type of window film can be enough to surprise and deter the criminals, causing them to move on and look for an easier target.

Note that security window film should not be applied on top of tempered glass. So, if your property already has tempered glass windows and doors, you’ll need a different solution.

The best access denial barriers: polycarbonate security glazing

If you’re committed to complete access denial, what you really want is forced entry-resistant polycarbonate security glazing.

These polycarbonate glazing shields can usually be retrofitted right on top of your existing doors and windows, creating virtually unbreakable access denial barriers. Even the most determined attacks using heavy hand tools will just bounce right off of polycarbonate.

Since polycarbonate looks and feels very similar to standard window glass, it doesn’t noticeably change the appearance of your property or alter the functionality of your windows — you still get all the natural light, visibility, and other benefits that your commercial windows provide.

commercial windows

What’s the right solution for you?

Ultimately, the right alternative to tempered glass for your Chicago business comes down to the specific type of business you have, your goals, and your budget.

Traditional bars and grates might work for businesses where aesthetics and curb appeal are not a big concern, such as mini markets and liquor stores, but they aren’t going to work for high-end retailers or office buildings.

Security window film, such as our RG Series window film, can provide a basic level of glass reinforcement that won’t interfere with your property’s appearance, but it doesn’t prevent determined criminals from forcing entry through a window or door.

For the majority of commercial applications, we highly recommend going with retrofit polycarbonate security glazing, such as ArmorPlast® AP25 containment-grade polycarbonate glazing shields.

With this option, you’re guaranteed to keep the bad guys out. Polycarbonate security glazing protects against all of the following:

  • Forced entry and burglary
  • Smash-and-grab theft
  • Vandalism
  • Rioting and looting
  • Active threats
  • Storm damage
  • Blast damage

If you require more than just forced entry protection, we also offer ballistic-grade ArmorPlast® glazing shields to protect your business and employees from stray bullets or targeted attacks.

Riot Glass, LLC Can Help

Riot Glass, LLC manufactures and supplies top-of-the-line security glazing products to businesses across the US.

We can work with your local glass contractor to ensure that any Riot Glass product you choose gets delivered and installed to our rigorous standards for optimal security.

If you’re ready to harden your businesses physical security in Chicago, contact us today or have your glass contractor give us a call for a free consultation.

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Looking for residential protection? At Riot Glass, we specialize in protecting your property with our patented bullet-resistant system, designed specifically for aluminium framed windows. Not sure if Riot Glass is right for your home? Explore our FAQs.
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