Bullet Resistant Glass Installation Tips for Contractors

Bullet Proof Glass, Bullet Resistant Materials

As Total Security Solutions CEO Jim Richards recently explained, “90% of the contractors we work with, they’ve never done it [installed a bullet resistant barrier] before.”  That’s why TSS offers robust support to contractors: so that even your first installation goes as smoothly as if you’ve done it dozens of times.

Tip #1: Phone First

All TSS bullet resistant systems ship with instructions, ready to install.  Installing a simple system, such as a small barrier composed of large components like a transaction window and door, is entirely possible just with the included instructions.  After unpacking the system components, run through the instructions as you lay out the project, and be sure that the installation process makes sense.  The reasoning behind the layout of more complex projects may not be immediately obvious.  Since the projects are engineered and fabricated for a very tight final fit and finish, that layout is important.  There are often a few critical dimensions that determine the placement of the pieces and the order in which they should be installed.

If any questions arise during unpacking —or if something doesn’t seem to make sense—give TSS a quick call.  Their designers and project managers are always eager to keep an installation running smoothly.  A 10 minute phone call can easily prevent an hour of uninstalling and reinstalling a mislaid channel.

Tip #2: Bullet Resistant Materials are Heavy

Although the bullet resistant fiberglass used to reinforce walls is no heavier than standard sheetrock, that is the exception, not the rule. Most bullet resistant materials and components—from windows and frames to doors—are at least twice as heavy as their conventional counterparts.  For example, depending on the UL rating (security level) of the material, sheets of bullet proof glass can weigh two to three times as much as standard tempered glass (up to 30 pounds per square foot).  For some installations—like large transaction lines in healthcare facilities—a 500 to 800 pound window isn’t that unusual. Similarly, many of the larger package passers weigh over 140 pounds.  Bullet resistant doors weigh several hundred pounds each—if leaned against a wall, some doors will actually deform under their own weight.

Tip #3: Proper Care and Cleaning of Bullet Resistant Glass

The primary threats to bullet resistant windows don’t come out of a gun, they come out of the cleaning aisle: Windex®  and paper towels.  If you use a cleaning service, make sure that they know that the bullet resistant glass cannot be cleaned with standard glass cleaner or paper towels.

Bullet resistant windows—just like the lenses in your eye glasses—have a variety of exterior coatings to reduce glare and prevent the accumulation of static charges (otherwise, these windows would become dust magnets over time).  Surprising as it sounds, dry paper towel is fairly abrasive, making it seem like sand paper to bulletproof glass.  It can easily scratch surface treatments on bullet resistant windows.

As for avoiding Windex®: Bullet proof “glass” is actually made from several types of plastic, sometimes layered with glass and epoxy.  When these materials are cut, drilled, or flame-polish during fabrication, microscopic fractures form in the plastic.  These are invisible to the naked eye, and have no impact on the material’s durability.  “But Windex® attacks the edges of those fractures,” Jim Richards explains, “and it will look like there’s cracks going into the glass.  It’s what’s called crazing, and it makes the material look terrible,” even though it has no impact on the material’s bullet resistance.

Surface scratches can be buffed out of polycarbonate or acrylic, but crazing creates a haze that penetrates the surface; “when it’s done,” Jim warns, “it’s done.”

Rules for Cleaning Bullet Resistant Windows

  • Gently dust with a soft lint-free cloth (like an old t-shirt).
  • Wash with a solution of warm water and mild soap or detergent, using a soft cloth or natural sponge.  Keep the sponge sopping wet.  Blot dry with clean soft cloth.
  • Remove grease and oil using hexane, kerosene, or naphtha, not aromatic compounds like benzene.
  • Surface scratches can be buffed out of acrylic by hand.
  • Polish acrylic or polycarbonate with quality commercial wax.  This fills minor scratches, restoring the smooth surface.
  • Never use paper towels on bulletproof glass.
  • NEVER USE WINDEX®!

Next Steps:

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