Written By: Brad Campbell | February 11, 2023
Commercial buildings face constant threats of forced entry, burglary, active threat attacks, and more. As such, building owners are increasingly looking for ballistic-grade construction materials to protect people and property.
If you own a business or a commercial property, you might be wondering what your options are for bulletproofing walls.
This article will go over some of the different ballistic-grade wall materials and technologies out there that are available to you for different types of walls you may have in your property.
Standard drywall used in interior wall construction is very fragile and can be smashed or shot through incredibly easily, potentially putting people’s lives in danger if an active threat is inside your building.
So, is there such a thing as bulletproof drywall? The short answer is no, there isn’t. In fact, it’s incorrect to call any type of material “bulletproof,” because even the most resistant materials can eventually be penetrated by bullets.
That being said, there are different types of bullet-resistant wall panels out there that you can use to reinforce walls and potentially stop several bullets.
One way to make walls bullet resistant is to use ballistic-grade wall panels made of fiberglass. These fiberglass wall panels can be hidden behind drywall, wood, and other materials to add a layer of ballistic protection to your walls.
Like other ballistic-grade construction materials, these types of wall panels receive a UL 752 rating from the Underwriters Laboratories.
This rating is the industry standard for safety and security products, and states how many bullets of a certain caliber fired from a specific type of firearm the materials can stop.
For example, a panel with a UL 752 level 1 rating can withstand 3 shots from a 9mm handgun using 124-grain full metal jacket rounds.
This might not sound like a lot of ballistic protection, but it can save lives. The delay to bullet penetration gives people on the other side of a wall time to get down, take cover, or run away to a safer location when under attack from an active threat.
For forced entry protection and active threat access denial, the best thing you can do is reinforce your doors and windows with some type of security glazing that significantly delays or denies entry.
However, certain types of high-security facilities and buildings more likely to be targeted by active threats may also benefit from ballistic interior walls for added protection.
For example, schools can conceal bullet-resistant wall panels behind classroom drywall to create secure spaces where students and staff can barricade themselves inside if an active threat is inside the building.
Examples of properties where partly bulletproof drywall panels may make sense:
The most important thing to remember here is that bullet-resistant walls are not going to make any difference if you don’t first ensure that your vulnerable doors and windows are reinforced to keep bad guys out.
Many commercial buildings have large floor-to-ceiling windows that function as walls and partitions.
If this is the case for your property, it’s incredibly important to make sure that your commercial glass walls are all reinforced with security glazing to protect against forced entry and ballistic attacks.
Fortunately, there are several effective ways to do this with different bullet-resistant materials.
The most versatile, cost-effective solution when you want virtually unbreakable forced entry and active threat protection for your glass walls is to retrofit them with polycarbonate security glazing and security framing.
There are other options, such as installing laminated security glass, but glass panels must be much thicker and heavier to achieve the same levels of ballistic-grade protection as polycarbonate.
That’s why we always recommend polycarbonate glazing shields, such as our ArmorPlast® AP series, for commercial building ballistic protection and access denial.
With a relatively thin and light polycarbonate panel, you can achieve extremely high levels of impact resistance and bullet resistance, without the need to replace any of the existing framing or surrounding building materials for the existing glass walls.
A retrofit solution like our ArmorPlast® AP series security glazing is designed to fit into or onto your existing framing systems, protecting the existing glass behind from impacts, including bullets (depending on the UL rating of the specific glazing).
Even when penetrated by bullets, the polycarbonate doesn’t shatter or become dislodged, so it continues to create an access denial barrier to keep bad guys on the other side.
Now available with our patent-pending Gen II security framing, ArmorPlast® AP panels are also designed to withstand even the most prolonged attacks with heavy tools, such as sledgehammers and pry bars.
The unique design of the framing system employs a series of shock gaskets to absorb extremely high levels of kinetic energy from blows. When combined with virtually unbreakable polycarbonate infills, this means even the most determined would-be intruders can’t gain access to your property.
Benefits of reinforcing glass walls with polycarbonate security glazing and framing:
When you want to keep the bad guys out and protect people and property, the most important thing to do is retrofit vulnerable glass with security glazing, including all-glass walls and partitions that could be potential entry points.
Once you’ve done this, you can consider other bullet-resistant wall materials, such as concealed ballistic wall panels, for even higher levels of active threat protection. However, we really want to stress that the best protection is access denial.
Contact Riot Glass today to discuss our security glazing and framing retrofit solutions for glass walls, doors, and windows.