A Cost and Uses Comparison of Bulletproof Glass and “Ballistic” Window Film

As a general rule, you should use security window film to protect property, and you should use bulletproof glass to protect people. 
Security window film is an excellent tool; it’s a cost-effective, quick way to improve physical security, reducing the risk posed by vandalism, break-ins, extreme weather, and accidents. We often recommend using window film in concert with bulletproof glass. But it doesn’t solve every security challenge. Most importantly, security window film does not stop bullets. 


Comparing Security Window Film and Bulletproof Glass


  Security Window Film Bulletproof Glass
Cost $8-18 per square foot*, before installation Starts at $50 per square foot, before installation

Thickness 4 to 14 mils film over existing window 3/4” to 2½” glass panes
Installation Should be done by a professional Must be done by a professional
Forced Entry Protection Yes Available
Blast Resistance Specialized products only Available
Bullet Resistance No Yes
Shatter Resistance Yes Yes
Severe Weather Protection Yes Yes
UV Protection Yes Yes
Increases Energy Efficiency Low Moderate-High


A Note About So-Called Ballistic Window Film

Security window film is often marketed as ballistic window film, but this is a misnomer. The correct term is security window film. A low ballistic window film cost is often a good indicator of whether a product can actually stop a bullet. The other is UL 752 compliance. If you have questions about whether a product can stop a bullet or want more information about how to use security window film with bulletproof glass, please contact TSS


Using Bulletproof Glass and Security Window Film Together

Both products have their uses when it comes to physical security; ideally, they’re used together. 

So-called ballistic window film can be used in areas where you do not need to protect people, but would like to prevent windows from shattering out. Films can also be used on upper level exterior windows for storm and earthquake protection, or in non-populated areas to delay forced entry.

Bulletproof glass is a very effective tool for protecting people from bullets. To prevent an armed assailant from endangering human lives, ballistic barriers can be installed in entryways, transaction windows, offices, and many more locations. 

Is Security Window Film Worth It?

If security window film fits your threat level, then it is certainly worth the investment. It is a cost-efficient and effective solution for non-ballistic threats.

When it comes to safety, we always encourage people to do their due diligence in choosing a product that will perform as intended. Unknown sellers’ and drop-shippers’ products may not have the proven durability and performance that you’ll get with a reputable manufacturer.

Installation is another consideration for window film. It is certainly possible to DIY the install, but we recommend using an experienced professional to make sure the job is done correctly. They will make sure the film is applied cleanly and evenly, with no bubbles or creases. While these may sound like aesthetic issues, they can also affect the performance of your security window film.
Similar to bulletproof glass, there are also factors that can impact the pricing of a security window film project. Some of those factors include:

  • Working with French panes
  • Difficult working conditions
  • Removal of existing film
  • Moving furnishing
  • High ladder work, swing stages, scaffolding, or lifts
Ultimately, you get what you pay for when it comes to security. If you want to be confident that you are protecting your facility and your personnel, talk to a professional—whether you need bulletproof glass, security window film, or both.

How to Understand the Cost of Bulletproof Glass

Although costs for bullet-resistant glass run higher than security film, it’s an apples-to-oranges comparison. The two products meet different security needs; bullet-resistant glass often serves multiple purposes, often being tested to forced entry, explosive blasts, and hurricane winds standards.

The UL 752 standard assigns the material a specific level indicating how many of what caliber bullets it can stop, based on certified lab testing. Levels 1 to 3 satisfy the needs of many customers who need protection from handguns;  Levels 4 through 8 stop shots from rifles, and are becoming increasingly common in government, education, and other spaces.

Costs depend on square footage and additional features and accessories you may need, such as doors, currency trays, or package passers. Generally, level 1 bulletproof glass starts at $50 per square foot, not including framing or installation costs.

A basic barrier system may cost less than $10,000, not including installation costs. A more comprehensive barrier system for a gas station, convenience store, or small bank branch may run about $15,000 to $25,000. Larger, more complex, higher UL rating, and higher-security systems can range from $30,000 to hundreds of thousands of dollars. To get an idea of what a bulletproof barrier or barrier system might cost you, reach out to us for a quote

Let’s Talk About Your Security Goals

If you’re not sure what product or system is right for your application, call an expert like TSS for help. A security strategy may use a mix of both products, such as putting bulletproof windows on the ground floor and security window film on upper levels. You can learn more by downloading our guide on Bulletproof Glass or Security Window Film.

If you have additional questions, or you’d like to get started on a quote, just contact us today. We’ll gladly help guide you through your security enhancement. Our team of experienced ballistic security professionals can help you assess your facility and find a solution for both your budget and your protection level.

The product pricings are approximations only and are not intended to replace the quoting process. TSS cannot guarantee that the pricing here will be reflected in your official project quote.

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