Many of you probably saw a recent headline: “6 home break-ins in 12 hours at The Lakes community.” (Click on the link to read the 13 Action News story.) People are usually surprised that burglaries happen in nice areas of town and in gated communities. A home in a nice part of town in an exclusive community with luxury cars parked along the street is most likely going to have expensive valuables. Don’t let a gate or a nice neighborhood give you a false sense of security; burglaries can happen anywhere.
Like most things in your home, windows aren’t given much priority until something goes wrong. Otherwise, as long as they function, the biggest concern is mostly likely blinds vs curtains.
However, windows (and glass doors) can be a big liability when it comes to home security. You likely only have one maybe two solid entry doors into your home and security for doors can be achieved in several ways (look for an upcoming post on door security). But windows have a couple of downsides when it comes to security – flimsy locks and all that glass.
Most window locks are not very secure. They’re usually little more than a 1/4 inch wide latch and the effectiveness of that latch depends on the “give” in the door. Unfortunately, that give is necessary for you windows to slide seamlessly in warm weather AND cold weather. A determined thief can push and wiggle a window frame hard enough to bypass such a small latch.
And then, of course, there is the glass. Glass is much stronger nowadays with modern manufacturing techniques, but unless you get glass that is specifically break- bullet-resistant, it WILL break if someone throws a rock through it. In Las Vegas, we have a lot of rocks!
So, security film vs security screens… What’s the difference?
Let’s start with window film. Security window film can be clear or tinted and is the right choice if you want something that is not obvious or easily detected. The installation process does not permanently alter your windows or your home and it is removable with quite a bit of elbow grease. It is important to note that security window film does NOT prevent glass from breaking! If someone take a bat to the window, it will break, but the window film will maintain a barrier between the thief and your home. If your home is specifically targeted by a very determined burglar, enough force, work, and time will cause the window film to eventually fail. The purpose is to allow other security measures to begin working (such as a glass break sensor connected to a monitored alarm system) or to deter the smash & grab burglar enough that they will give up and move on. You will have a window or glass door to repair, but your family and belongings are still safe. And what about knives? This is one of the most common questions we are asked about window film. Yes, window film can be cut with a knife. Stainless steel knives are used in the installation process to cut the window film to size. But if you were a burglar intent on gaining entry through a window or glass door. Your weapon of choice would likely be a landscaping rock and not a knife.
Security screens are a much more permanent option. They are installed into the frame of your home and are much more robust against forced entry. They resemble bug screens, but the mesh is powder coated stainless steel. The screens can be sized for windows, doors, and sliding glass doors. Since they are much more visible, approval by your HOA is likely needed depending on your individual HOA regulations, but numerous colors are available for coordination with your house colors and your HOA. For windows that open, a quick-release design is used to allow for escape in case of emergency. And what if the fire department needs to get in? The stainless steel mesh, while great for protection against rocks, bats, knives, and even golf balls, can be cut with heavy duty power tools that are part of a firefighter’s arsenal of tools. The biggest difference is that a security screen WILL prevent your glass from breaking…. period. This makes it a great option for homeowners who live on a golf course.
Window film was designed for protection against breaking glass from spontaneous glass breakage, bomb blasts, hurricanes, and tornados. The goal is to keep dangerous sharp shards attached to the film in the event a catastrophic event occurs. Security screens were designed for protection from flying debris in hurricanes and tornados so that homeowners did not have to rely on boarding up their windows for protection against a tree branch being hurtled through their window in gale force winds.