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Preparing Your Home

Bulletproof Glass: What You Should Know

The first thing you need to know is that foolproof bulletproof glass doesn’t exist. It is a movie thing that we’ve convinced ourselves is real.

With that pesky fact out of the way, you can get a glass that can withstand quite a beating, including small-caliber weapons. But, if you’re planning to OK Corral a situation, don’t rely on the glass to protect you. It will buy you some time, though.

We will deep dive into bullet proof glass and why it is worth it in some cases.

Bulletproof Glass Is Not Always Glass 

Another myth-busting statement. But, it is the truth. Most commonly, bulletproof glass is not glass at all but other durable materials.

Acrylics

Clear Acrylic Sheet with Saw Cut Edges on Gray.

Monolithic acrylic, also known as plexiglass, is a single piece of solid plastic of a specific size. It is a popular option because you can drill, route, cut, curve, and slot acrylic windows for customization. 

Acrylic bullet-resistant windows are fabricated using a UL-rating system. The average human has no need for anything above level 3, and you’re throwing money at a problem that doesn’t exist.

Acrylic Bullet Resistant System UL-Ratings

  • Level 1 – It can likely withstand a few jacketed 9mm bullets, giving you plenty of time to just run.
  • Level 2 – One step above, level 2-rated glass is meant to take up to three.357 Magnum bullets.
  • Level 3 – It can take at least three scary shots from a .44 Magnum.

If you’ve got incoming fire that is more powerful than that? Glass is your last problem.

Polycarbonate

Color polycarbonate sheets

Polycarbonate is around 30% more expensive than acrylic. However, they are two very different types of bullet-resistant components.

 Acrylic is a hard material. In contrast, polycarbonate is softer and is typically laminated in layers.

The major performance difference is that polycarbonate tends to have a tint. Some people like it, and some people just don’t.

Glass-Clad Polycarbonate

Glass-Glad Polycarbonate is a solid and durable glass-resistant glass. It is made by layering polycarbonate between the two sheets of traditional glass. 

The expensive ballistic glass can withstand AK-47 or M 16 ammunition, and government agencies and the military are the only people who could even afford that sort of protection.

Traditional Laminated Glass

The entire origin story of bulletproof glass begins with traditional laminated glass. It contains three layers – two sheets of conventional glass, one layer of plastic known as PVB. The PVB is sandwiched between the standard sheets of glass before they are laminated (bullet resistant drywall uses a similar layered approach).

Insulated Ballistic Glass

It is the newest generation of bullet-resistant glass. It is made to be cost-effective and of high quality.

Insulated ballistic glass has five layers.

  1. The PVB is sandwiched between two layers of standard glass.
  2. It is then laminated with polyurethane and ethylene-vinyl acetate.
  3. The last step is that they are then bonded together at a high temperature.

7 Reasons Why You Might Need Bullet-Resistant Glass That Doesn’t Involve Bullets

  1. You’re not looking for bullet-resistant glass to hide from a rain of high-caliber bullets with almost certainty. So, let’s look at why they are actually pretty useful for a family home.
  2. Bullet-resistant glass is an easy residential security solution. It adds another layer between you and any potential danger. By no means are we suggesting that you invest in UL-rated level 3 glass, but there are affordable and quality options without breaking the family budget.
  3. The weather is insane and unpredictable. Even the lost rated bullet-resistant glass can shrug off a 9mm bullet in a pinch. It will also stand up to destructive wind and even flying debris (to a point, most are tested with two 2x4s.)
  4. Criminals don’t always come with a gun. Windows are a popular portal for trespassers and burglars, and a bulletproof window is a way to at least delay them breaking and entering. The fact is, if someone is intent on getting in, they will. However, many home invaders move on at the first sign of trouble.
  5. Bullet-resistant glass does not shatter like the traditional sort. It breaks away and doesn’t form killer shards that only add to the problem. It means that UL-rated windows create a safer home environment. For example, a landscaper accidentally throws a rock while mowing the front lawn. Bullet-resistant not only will likely stop it, if it doesn’t, but you also won’t have to emergency evacuate the house until you’ve located every razored piece.
  6. Most bullet-resistant glass offers protection from UV rays. It means your toddlers and pets are taking in less of the sun’s dangers, and your furniture and hanging artwork won’t take on the heavy wear and tear.
  7. Ballistic windows remain clear about sun damage and do not yellow or grow hazy over time.

At a Glance

2 Main Types of Bullet-Resistant Glass Windows

Acrylics

It is the most common material used for bullet-resistant glass.

Pros

  • It is easy to work with.
  • Acrylics is super crystal clear.
  • It has excellent UV protection.

Cons

  • Acrylics have to be thick if you want window security with a high UL rating. (like ugly and cumbersome thick)

Polycarbonate

It is more lightweight than acrylics and a bit better at stopping or slowing impacts.

Pros

  • It is an easy material to work with.
  • Polycarbonate is more lightweight than a lot of materials.

Cons

  • The window frame has to allow for the expansion and contraction that happens with polycarbonate window glass.
  • Windows made of this material will marr and get hazy without regular maintenance.

The Disadvantages of Bullet Proof Glass

  1. UL-rate glass is expensive. You’ve got to have room in a family budget for a contractor or professional. It is not recommended you try to install them on your own.
  2. Bulletproof glass is incredibly weighty. It at least consists of three layers, and none of them are lightweight.
  3. The UV protection that ballistic windows offer is excellent and all. But, it also makes them hard to see through. It is still transparent but not as clear as traditional window glass.
  4. The bullet-resistant glass will break, it will crack, it will take on wear and tear. They require tons of maintenance and are costly to replace.

The Advantages of Bullet Proof Glass

  • The safety that bullet-resistant glass is worth it for many people. Weather and crime levels are the two primary reasons why people install them in the residences.
  • They don’t shatter into a zillion dangerous pieces. It means you won’t spend the next decade picking glass shards out of the carpet or finding one sticking out of the sole of your foot.
  • Bullet-resistant glass can withstand all sorts of unexpected and random dangers. Flying rocks or hit balls won’t ruin an otherwise beautiful day.
  • It is never a bad idea to add a layer of security to your home. Cameras, motion lights, and window sensors go a long way, but durable window glass will buy you valuable time and might make that burglar change their mind.

The Biggest Reason to Get Bullet Proof Glass

Your peace of mind is always the most important reason to add any security measure. Sure, the likelihood of something terrible happening is relatively low, but that slim chance is enough to keep us all up at night. 

If you can afford it, it is a good plan. But, it isn’t for everyone, either. 

For those of you who have decided to go for it, do your research. Get as many free quotes as you feel comfortable with, compare prices and reviews, and ask every question that comes to mind. It is your safety and your money. 

Weather events are far more likely to happen. Wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and so on can all happen in the blink of an eye. Ballistic windows could be that one thing that keeps debris from doing its own breaking and entering.

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