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.
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.