Written By: Brad Campbell | June 7, 2023
Riot Glass® access denial systems and security window film are two retrofit security glazing solutions you can use to protect your business against forced entry, burglary, smash-and-grab theft, rioting and looting, and other security threats.
These two solutions have one big thing in common: they install right on top of your existing glass doors and windows, so you don’t have to replace your glass or framing systems to reinforce them.
However, that’s where the similarities between Riot Glass® access denial systems and security window film stop — there are some big differences in how they work and how they perform against security threats.
It’s important to understand these significant differences before you decide which retrofit security glazing solution is right for you.
No matter what type of commercial facility we’re talking about, unprotected windows and doors are almost always the most vulnerable potential entry points for bad guys.
Whether it’s forced entry and burglary, smash-and-grab theft, rioting and looting, or an active threat scenario, the perpetrators usually go straight for an unprotected window or door to gain entry, because they know how easy it is to break standard annealed glass.
All it takes is a blow or two from a sledgehammer, a pry bar, a bat, or another common burglary tool to make annealed commercial windows shatter, allowing the criminals to reach through and open a door from the inside or climb right in.
When it comes to commercial window protection, there are a few traditional solutions you may already be familiar with, including:
Bars, scissor gates, and shutters provide a visual deterrent that can often discourage break ins, but some cities, landlords, and specialty brands do not want such products visible in the storefront. Riot Glass is an excellent alternative, providing a virtually invisible barrier to entry.
This is why many business owners choose to add an extra layer of security by boarding up their businesses during civil unrest, but this takes quite a bit of preparation, labor, and time to do effectively, and can’t always be done in time if riots flare up unexpectedly.
For property owners who want a glass protection solution that doesn’t change the appearance of the building, yet is more affordable than replacing the existing glass with forced entry-resistant glazing, Riot Glass® retrofit access denial systems and security window film are two options.
Security window films are a clear Mylar sheeting that gets applied directly on top of existing glass surfaces.
Using a liquid slip solution (essentially soapy water), these sheets are adhered to the glass and any excess liquid and air bubbles are squeegeed out. Once installation is complete, most people won’t even notice that the film is there.
Now, it’s important to understand that security window films are primarily designed to hold broken shards of glass in place if a window is smashed.
How well the film holds the glass together depends on how thick the film is, how many layers of security film there are (one on the inside vs one on both sides), and whether or not the film is secured around the edges using additional materials.
Security window film does not prevent glass from breaking due to impacts, but it does help delay and deter forced entry attempts by reinforcing the existing glass and making it a bit harder to get through.
This type of window film also significantly reduces the risks of glass hazards, especially from accidental impacts, such as those from flying storm debris. Since the film holds the glass in place when broken, jagged shards of broken glass aren’t prone to flying dangerously inwards.
Riot Glass® access denial glazing systems use specific formulations of polycarbonates, acrylics, and other plastics to create forced entry-resistant glazing shields that outperform and outlast other similar security glazing products on the market.
Unlike security window film, Riot Glass® glazing sheets, such as AP25 containment-grade glazing, don’t get applied directly on top of the existing glass.
Instead, they are installed in front of the existing glass, using retrofittable security framing adapters to fix them into or onto the existing framing systems.
Riot Glass® access denial systems can be retrofitted into almost any type of window or door framing, including:
Once these access denial systems are anchored in place over the existing glass, they create a virtually unbreakable barrier that forced entry attempts will bounce right off of.
Even repeated blows to the same spot using a sledgehammer or another heavy hand tool cannot penetrate these incredibly impact-resistant glazing sheets.
In fact, even non-ballistic Riot Glass® glazing can be riddled with bullets and still won’t significantly diminish in strength or allow any part of an attacker’s body to pass through.
If you do require ballistic protection, there are a variety of ballistic-grade Riot Glass® solutions rated to withstand rounds from different types of common firearms used in active threat scenarios.
If what you’re after is true, unbreakable forced entry prevention, you can’t beat Riot Glass® retrofit access denial systems for the most cost-effective solution.
But, if your budget is tight, a multi-layer security window film installation can provide a basic level of protection against minimal attacks.
That being said, these retrofit security glazing solutions are not mutually exclusive. What we often see is clients with large commercial facilities using a combination of the two products to help reduce costs a bit.
For example, the most vulnerable doors and windows of a large glass office building could be retrofitted with Riot Glass® access denial panels and security window film could be installed over the less accessible glass surfaces.
Campbell Glass and Films is an authorized dealer and installer of Riot Glass® security window film and access denial glazing systems. Contact us today for a free consultation!
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