Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Window Security Film How-To

This email by Mark covers the topic of window security films. Thanks Mark for the well written article. 

Burglar bars are what we use here and provide the most protection, but these security films are MUCH better than having nothing at all. As Mark himself relates, the extra layer of protection surprises bad guys and even avoids certain crimes. At the very least, it makes your home a harder target, giving you extra time when defending it, time that you can put to good use.
These films are used also for storms, since it prevents the window from shattering completely and falling apart, wounding people and leaving the entrance point opened.
Please read the article and see one of the many things you can do to make your home a bit safer. 

Tip: If doing it yourself, read the manual completely first, have all the material ready before you start, and start with a small window first. These things take practice. If possible, remove the glass from the window. This way the film goes all the way into the frame and its also easier to install. Take care folks.


Hi Ferfal,

First, I would like to thank you for all the time, effort, and money you put into your blog.  I've been reading it for a while now, and I bought your book.  The book is getting a little dog-eared from lots of use, as well as bookmarks and Post-it notes throughout!

I would like to comment about Window Security Film.  I live in a smallish town near St. Louis, and for various reasons I cannot install bars on my windows.  Upon further investigation (I actually got the idea out of your book) I checked into Security Film.  I decided to try it on a few windows around my house, just to see how well it installed.  Over the years, I've become a do-it-yourselfer through necessity (too cheap to pay anyone to do what I can do for myself - long story).  Anyway, installing security film is actually very simple.    Since the film I used was 9 mil, it was too thick to put in the window and cut, so you need to measure and cut, then attach it to the window. 

The actual process is not difficult, just a little time consuming because of the measuring.  At this point, I'd like to say that the film is not cheap, and you will want to get a high quality film right from the start.  Along with the 60" roll of film, I bought the "Installation Kit".  The kit consisted of a box cutter, a stiff 6" squeegee, a plastic "Multi-tool" which was basicly a rectangular plastic squeegee, a razor scraper, some lint-free paper towels, a spray bottle, and some baby shampoo.  Definetly NOT worth the $45 I spent for it, but live and learn.  You will also need distilled water.  Some things I learned through the School of Hard Knocks is to have a large work area that you are not afraid of cutting with a box knife.  I used a spare piece of plywood that I set on a table in my garage.  A long T-square is also advisable, along with a fine point permananet marker.  The bonding solution consists of a teaspoon of baby shampoo per pint of distilled water.

I would suggest starting on a small window because your are learning as you go, and you will make mistakes.  Start by thouroghly cleaning the window, using the spray bottle with solution, then scrape the window with the razor scaper.  The winow must be completly clean, any dust or dirt will create bubbles that are very noticable.   Its a good idea to put a towel under the window to keep things dry.  Measure your window, leaving about 1/8 of an inch around the edge for the film to expand when it gets warm.  Mark and cut your film.  Spray your windows with solution (again make sure it is COMPLETLY CLEAN), also spray your fingers so you leave no fingerprints on the film.  Peel off the protective face of the film, spraying it down as you remove the protected film.  Place the film on the window, then, using your 6" stiff squeegee gently start removing the water from behind the film.  I suggest starting from the top center and working your way out and down.  Once the film is fixed in place, use the rectagular plastic squeegee to get the rest of the water out.  Make sure you wrap the edged of the plastic sqweegee with a lint-less pager towel, or you will scratch wht plastic film.  The more effort you put into getting the solution out from behind the film, the faster your film will cure.  According to the manufacterer, it takes about 30 days to cure.  However, once it it applied, it already has about 70% of it strength.

The manufacturer also recommends using Dow 995 Silicone Cauk around the edges for large windows and/or tempered glass, to provide more protection.

It took me about a weekend to install the film on all the windows on the lower level of my house.  I have not done the upper windows; thats a project for another day.

Now for some real-world experience:  during the spring last year, someone tried to break into my house through one of my basement windows.  My basement windows are just single-pane sliding windows that are 12"x31".  My subdivision does not have fences, and there are no bushes next to my house.  While the window did get broken, the film kept all the glass shards in place and no one entered my house.  Needless to say, I'm glad that I took the time to apply the film, or there's no telling what might have happened.  My neighborhood is a relatively nice one, and robberies do not normally happen there.  Just goes to show that crime can happen anywhere.  It cost me $11 to have the window fixed, and I immediatly applied the film to it.  I also built thick plywood plugs to go behind the basement windows incase someone decides to come back.

Total cost:  $491

Estimated contractor cost:  $2500

So in a nutshell, thank you for opening my eyes to what a real SHTF scenario is really like.  Before I found your site, all everyone talked about was Mad Max, Zombie Apacalypse, etc.  Now I am more focused on real world events.  Hope this little how-to will help someone else avoid a potential breakin.  As an aside, Rich in Canada could potentially make some extra money by installing security film to other people's houses.  I have helped other people with hardening thier houses, and I have looked at this as a potential income stream for myself should I loose my job.  Keep up the good work and I look forward to reading your site for many years to come.



Anonymous said...

Mark, that was an inspirational post. I was going to get this done, but it was too expensive. Now that I know what's involved, I'll do it myself!

Can you tell me where you purchased the film and the kit? Also, what brand and thickness did you choose?

Don Plata said...

Great letter.

"Install security film" has been on my checklist for a long time. What are the best sources/brands for the material?

Don Williams said...

Ferfal, this post is Off-topic but has some info I thought you would find interesting.

1) There is a big quarrel brewing between nuclear-armed Pakistan and nuclear-armed USA over an American, Raymond Davis, who was arrested by the Pakistanis after he shot and killed two men in Lahore. The US Government is exerting enormous pressure for his release, Pakistan is refusing
because they think he is a CIA spy:

2) Note that this guy blew two men on a motorcycle away by shooting through his windshield with adjustment for ballistic deflection. When he called for help a security vehicle from the US Embassy was in such a rush to rescue him that it ran over and killed a third Pakistani bystander. Mr Davis is reportedly a former US Special Forces soldier, is now a security consultant attached to US embassy who allegedly has been spying on
Pakistani military areas. He claims the motorcyclists attacked

Not exactly your usual tourist.

3) What is interesing is his choice of weapon: Glock 9mm.

Glock could make a REALLY interesting TV commercial from this.

dc.sunsets said...

This may work for people in warm zones of the USA, but not in places where winter is REAL. Decent windows have multiple panes and the space between them is filled with a dry, relatively inert gas (nitrogen or suchlike).

Taking such a window out of its frame is probably not an option unless it removes as a cassette. Breaking the seal means the window will fog, cloud, and look perpetually dirty.

Maybe putting the film on the window while it's in its frame will work (prevent shattering) but it will have its limits.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious what Window Security Film is made of and how long it lasts.

I worked for several years in the sign industry, designing, cutting and installing vinyl signs for all manners of installations. The process (described in excellent detail, by the way) is the same as installing Window Security Film, which makes me wonder about its manufacture and longevity.

For example,vinyl manufacturers generally rate their vinyl in terms of how many years you can expect it to last. The very best were rated for 7 years. The main difference was in the thickness of the vinyl. In the real world, sun, rain, wind and weather shorten that lifespan depending on the installation's exposure to these elements.

I checked out a few web sites of firms that offered security film, but they did not address longevity.

I'd be curious how security film differs from a high quality clear vinyl product as used by the sign industry, and how long it can be expected to last.


Unknown said...

Hi All, I got my film from Apex ( but they don't have that product any more. However, it looks like the 12 mil stuff is about the same price as what I paid for the 9 mil. I bought 25 linear feet on a 60" roll, and I still have a little left over even after doing my windows. I probably need another 20" to finish upstairs, but I'm not too worried about that at this point (need more money first! haha)

I was pretty frugal about how I used the film - my windows were less than 30" wide so I got two windows out of the same linear feet, but your mileage may vary.

Hope this helps.


Unknown said...

Hi David, et al,

Something I did not specify in the how to is that the film is installed on the inside, not the outside. The manufacturer recommends that there be 1/8" between the film and the edge of the glass. This allows for expansion when the windows get warm due to weather or whatever. The Dow 995 silicon caulk provides mor strength by adhering to both the window sill and the film.

This system is the same used by the US Goverment for "bomb proofing" buildings, although they use a thicker film that I did. 20 mils was prohibitively expensive.

When I installed the film on my windows, I did not remove the windows from their casings; I just applied it on the inside surface of the window. The first window I tried to apply the film to the window then cut, something like what an auto window tinter would do. This stuff is so thick that it is a waste of time and film to attemp it. I had the measure each window to make sure the film fit properly. Even with that, I still had to do some emergency trimming. I got better as time went on.

Hope this clarifies things. As. An aside, the price of the film appears to have went down a little. The 12 mils film is about the same as the 8 mils two years ago. Knowing what I know now, I would choose the thicker film.


Totalinvestor said...

Keeping on topic with protecting your home and valuables, here is a great article I found.

10 Tricks Burglars Use to Tell if You Are Home

Jawara Kampung said...

nice post
......regard from bali

Anonymous said...

3M makes the finest material available and I understand is the supplier for the Feds. The thick stuff is amazing, and yes, you get exactly what you pay for. The glass becomes more bullet resistant than the walls. Impressive, indeed, for those with the means and the desire for the most invisible security upgrade I've ever seen. OpSec prevents me from saying more.