Bank Security and Bullet-Resistant Barriers: Frequently Asked Questions

Banks and security—the two words should be side by side in the dictionary, as it seems like one soon follows the other. While employees and customers of any business greatly value their personal safety, the additional financial element requires banks and credit unions to look closer at ballistic security. As we discussed in an earlier blog, recent bank security trends indicate deterrence as the key factor in the decline in bank robberies of commercial retail banks. “Even when a location has suffered multiple robberies," TSS CEO Jim Richards observes, "once that barrier is in place, there is not a recurrence.”

As you consider whether upgrades are necessary, we’ve gathered together a list of frequently asked questions to help you navigate the world of bank safety.

What UL levels are the most common in financial settings?

In most banks, you’ll typically find a UL level 1-3 system, depending on the customer. While a level 2 is fairly common with some corporate banks, a UL level 1 is often more than sufficient, and you’ll generally find these in new banks and credit unions. The type of material you’d use would be a level one uncoated, as acrylic holds up quite well over time, doesn’t discolor, and is the most affordable option out there.

For interior glazing, you’ll be looking at uncoated or coated acrylics in levels 1-2 and laminated polycarbonates in levels 1-3, though glass-clad polycarbonate materials can also be used.

With exterior glazing, we generally recommend a level 1-3. Our DEFENDER Ballistic Insulated Glass is an especially great option for applications such as an exterior storefront because of the options for tints, mirror, reflective, and Low-E makeups.

Available in levels 1-8, ballistic fiberglass can be utilized in a new construction—built right into the walls or the millwork, or it can be retrofitted and applied post-construction. We’re also able to cover it with a laminate veneer or aluminum to hide the unfinished material.

TSS ballistic framing systems are available in levels 1-8, and we have thermally improved framing systems for the exterior to complement the insulated ballistic glass. We also offer non-rated systems with the option of ballistic fiberglass packing to provide additional protection, if you’re a bit more cost-conscious.

When it comes to doors, you can choose from a wide range of options. Aluminum is a fairly common choice, available in levels 1-5, but you can also choose wood in levels 1-5, steel in levels 1-8, and glass or acrylic polycarbonate, both in levels 1-3.

For more information regarding security trends in financial settings, you can visit our previous blog post where we discuss the intersection of ballistic protection and modern aesthetics.

What are the differences between laminated polycarbonate and acrylic core?

While acrylic is basically crystal clear, polycarbonate has a purple-gray hue to the material which distorts the clarity somewhat. Both have the same ballistic rating and the same thickness, but the acrylic is more clear and typically about ten dollars less per square foot than the all-laminated polycarbonate. Because of this, we emphasize using acrylic for any type of UL level 3 interior barrier system.

Spall vs. no-spall: What do banks usually buy?

It really comes down to personal preference. If customers want to use glass, we suggest using low-spall for exterior components. For interior work such as a teller line, we recommend acrylics or laminated polycarbonate acrylics, as these products are all typically considered no-spall and do not release any glazing fragments on the secure side of the barrier.

What’s the smallest size project TSS will take on for a bank? What’s the largest?

We welcome any bank project, no matter the size. It can be as small as supplying you with a currency tray or a package exchanger to modify your current existing system, or as large as a full teller line system with an exterior storefront.

Should I request an onsite assessment?

We can do a lot over the phone, but surveying the site in person offers distinct advantages. We find that the sooner we’re brought in on a project, the smoother everything goes for everyone involved. We’re happy to travel out to your location for an onsite assessment where we can discuss your security goals and the available options to help you reach those goals.

Does TSS often collaborate with architects? What about other members of the project team?

We enjoy working with architects, and anyone else involved in the project. We love to collaborate as early as possible to discuss potential security risks and the best solutions for the project. Security is important, but it’s also about function—making sure the result protects employees and customers without interrupting the flow of business. We’re more than happy to set up a consultation meeting, whether a conference call or an in-person visit, with bank security directors, facility managers, construction divisions, and even the end-user themselves.

Do you provide system installation?

Yes, we do! Our teams travel throughout the United States installing TSS security systems and have even done work in the Caribbean.

How long does my branch need to be a construction zone?

While it depends on the project, we like to work after hours when possible, specifically at night and over the weekends when you’re closed. Our goal is to disrupt your business as little as possible and we can schedule the installation during a time that works best for you. Depending on the project, our installers can get the job done overnight!


Do you offer system warranties?

TSS offers a one-year warranty on all products from the date of installation. Additionally, all glazing other than acrylic typically comes with a five-year warranty, but we can work with customers to possibly offer extended warranties if necessary.

TSS: Your Partners in Ballistic Security

We know from years of experience that when it comes to bank safety, it’s best to take a proactive approach. We encourage you to contact our ballistic security experts if you have questions or want to get started with a specific project. In the meantime, you can also download our free “How-To” Guide for Banks.

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