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Preparing Your Home

Bullet-Resistant Drywall & Wall Panels: All You Need To Know

Right, so there is a 50/50 chance you’ve never heard of bulletproof drywall. It isn’t quite as cool as ‘bulletproof glass’ or bulletproof armor and has no production quality.

But it does have a pretty solid protection quality. 

We will take a sledgehammer to the myths about ballistic drywall and shine a light on why it is a real safety solution.

Ballistic Drywall Basics

The Definition of Ballistic Drywall

The term ballistic is common enough. It just means anything that has to do with the flying projections – this just means that anything ballistic-related can at least take a rock.

Next, Miriam Webster defines drywall as “a board made of several plies of fiberboard, paper, or felt bonded to a hardened gypsum plaster core and used primarily as wallboard.”

The construction industry term drywall goes by different names, too.

  • sheetrock
  • gyp board
  • plasterboard
  • wallboard

So, in theory, ballistic drywall is a bulletproof wall.

The Definition of Bulletproof

Bulletproof is a word that is overused and entirely misleading. The truth is, no building material can stop a bullet 100% of the time.

The good news is that bullet-resistant drywall does have standards. You don’t have to just take someone’s word for it.

So, bullet resistant and ballistic are the most accurate ways to refer to sheetrock that can withstand everything from rocks to low-caliber bullets.

How does bullet-resistant drywall work?

While they can take a beating from a 9mm, let’s say it does not (by any means) mean you should rely on ballistic wallboard in a shoot-out or the apocalypse. 

But, it sure can protect you from various other impending threats.

The multi-layer construction of ballistic drywall panels gives it the power to absorb a projectile’s energy. 

Is bullet-resistant drywall reasonable for a residence?

Of course, it is. You’re some sort of weirdo for wanting optimal protection if you have the means to do it.

Architects and construction companies use bullet-resistant panels every day. The two biggest reasons are to meet an owner’s demands or comply with specific building codes and regulations. 

You are the owner. If you want to use ballistic sheetrock when building your new home, they, by all means, do it. It isn’t going to be one of those investments you regret.

UL Ratings and Bullet-Resistant Drywall and Panels

Underwriters’ Laboratories, or UL, is a global safety certification company. UL ratings are universally known and recognized. It is no wonder they’ve been doing it since 1894.

The rating reflects the beating bullet-resistant drywall can take. We could drone on about every aspect of the scale, but you’d get bored. 

Here is all you really need to know.

UL RatingAmmunitionNumber of Shots
Level 19mm GMJ with lead core3
Level 2

.357 Magnum jacketed
lead soft point

3
Level 3.44 Magnum Lead
Semi-Wadcutter
Gas Checked
3
Level 4.30 Caliber Rifle Lead Core
Soft point 
.30-06 Caliber
1
Level 57.62mm Rifle Lead Core
Full Metal Copper Jacket Military Ball 
308 Caliber
1
Level 69mm Full Metal Jacket
with Lead Core
5
Level 75.56mm Rifle Full Metal Copper Jacket
with Lead Core .223 Caliber
5
Level 87.62mm Rifle Lead Core Full Metal
Copper Jacket Military Ball
.308 Caliber
5
Shotgun12-Gauge Rifled Lead Slug 3

Installing Bullet-Resistant Drywall and Wall Panels

The most basic installation instruction will at least give you an idea of what you’re looking at if you decide to take the project on yourself. DIY is fun and all, but installing bullet-resistant glass is not always as easy as it seems.

A helpful thing to know about ballistic sheetrock is that it looks no different from any untreated wall panel installed.

  1. The panels are secured along the edges.
  2. They are then reinforced with ballistic fiberglass batten strips.
  3. A final layer of bullet-resistant gypsum board or veneer is applied to the shielding.

1. Choose the Panel Size

Most bullet-resistant panels are supplied in standard size & lengths.

You can cut the panels to suit you and use standard tools to do it.

  • Table Saw
  • Panel Saw
  • Saber Saw

Professionals recommend using a diamond grit blade to cut around openings and make large cuts.

LENOX Tools Reciprocating Saw Blade, Diamond Grit, 8-Inch (10833800RDG)

2. Then Drill and Fasten

You will use a high-speed steel drill at a slow speed when drilling through a ballistic drywall panel. 

The bullet-resistant drywall panels will then be attached to wall studs or substrates with special self-tapping screws.

Or, Use Quality Adhesives

Also, you can install your bullet-resistant sheetrock drywall by using adhesives.

When you are working with non-porous substrates like steel and aluminum, use a more robust bonding agent. 

You can apply laminates with any standard contact adhesive. Laminates can be used with standard contact adhesives. 

3. Finish with the Finishing

You use contact cement to apply certain materials to a ballistic drywall panel.

  • Wood
  • Plastic veneer
  • More layers of drywall
  • Stainless steel sheets

Safety First

If you choose to DIY bullet-resistant wall panels, remember to stay safe. You want to enjoy the thing you’ve built.

Be sure to wear

Let’s Talk About Other Bullet-Resistant Wall Options

If drywall just ain’t your thing, you have other bullet-resistant wall options. Remember that your ballistic wall choice should not compromise the structure’s safety.

Brick, Concrete, and Stone, Oh, My

  • Conventional exterior materials such as brick, concrete, and stone are common for houses and other structures. It means that masonry materials make up typical walls, and they are awfully good at stopping small-caliber bullets.
  • Concrete blocks and poured concrete not only work extraordinarily well for exterior walls, but you can also install them indoors.
  • Brick and stone are beautiful aesthetic additions to a home, and their durable and last a good long while. 
  • However, masonry materials tend to degrade like, well, like natural things do. If a brick takes a bullet, that brick will need replacing, and so will those around it. 
  • Brick, concrete, and stone are cumbersome to work with. You will likely require a professional.

Steel and Aluminum

  • Steel has a misplaced reputation because it is tough and known to be unyielding. However, you’d have to go to a manufacturer that produces explicitly ballistic-rated products to get armor-grade steel. 
  • Steel plates are not only insanely expensive, one little weak spot, and the entire protective layer fails to protect you. 
  • Metal is hard to work with onsite because it is harder to cut and heavier than all get out.
  • If done right, by the right people, with the right materials, steel can take a ton of incoming fire.
  • Aluminum can be cut thicker than steel and is significantly lighter, but it works better for body armor than walls.

Fiberglass 

  • Bulletproofing a space with fiberglass is a popular choice because you can retrofit the walls you want or use it for a wall built from scratch.
  • Fiberglass is less expensive, weighs a whole lot less, and is just easier to handle and install. 
  • But, the downside is, fiberglass will only hold up to minor threats. Anything more than a 9mm, and it doesn’t even give you a decent reaction time.

Sand, Soil, and Sandbags

  • Loose-fit materials can shore you up like Fort Knox. But I don’t believe the HOA is going to get on board with this plan for the long term.
  • But, it is a helpful thing to know when the world ends or when catastrophic weather strikes. It means knowing where the nearest sandbag supplier is. 
  • You can DIY the hell out of sandbags or other earthen fill installations. It is one of the times that playing in the dirt is both valuable and fun.
  • And, you can always use loose-fitting materials with any bullet-resistant drywall to add a layer that no one even sees.

Just do what you can, and always have a plan.