Security Windows




Security windows are a Physical Security barrier designed to
frustrate and inhibit an intruder from succeeding during a
Break and Enter attack.

**This article is essential reading if you need Window Security**

Forced Entry Resistance

Breaking and Entering typically happens through the front door of a structure (34%) or through first floor windows (23%), security windows are one of the most important physical barriers in your home.  BREAKING is the application of force upon a structure to create an opening large enough for the body of the intruder to penetrate the envelope of the structure  thus ENTERING the structure.  There are various levels of force used to BREAK into a structure.

Slight Force  Push a door open

Medium Force Prying apart or physically rupturing some element of the structure with tools

Heavy Force  rupturing some element of the structure with powered tools or penetrating the structure with projectiles

Extreme Force  destroying part of the structure with explosives.

Security Windows and Doors are a type of “active physical security” designed and installed to inhibit successful penetration by an intruder engaged in a “Breaking and Entering Attack” on a structure.


Breaking & Entering
     Breaking – use of force
     Entry – gaining access into a structure/space.

An unwanted person who enters structures or dwellings against the will of others or the law.


Physically crossing a barrier bodily, by tool or by projectile.


Actively engaging in the physical act of forceful aggression against a person or structure.

Physical Barrier

Any material or collection of materials which are designed and placed to inhibit penetration of a space or structure.

Click here to be taken to the glossary of definitions used in this article.

True Security Windows

To achieve the most robust high security windows possible there are several aspects of a security window design and construction which need to be taken into consideration. A brief description of how a window is built will help in understanding these principals.

All windows have a frame, a frame serves two purposes.

1. Hold the glass unit in place

2. provide a means by which to attach the window inside the opening of the wall.

Fixed – Non-operable – Picture Window


A window where the glass unit is not operable, (it doesn’t open or close) is called a fixed window. The glass unit is attached directly to the window frame which itself is attached directly into the the wall, nothing can move, it is all fixed in place.


For a window to be able to operate (open and close) then the glass unit needs to be able to move freely, independent of the frame. To allow this to happen the glass unit it self is given its own frame.

The combination of a glass unit and its own frame is called a sash. The sash then sits inside of the the window frame. It is the sash which is the operable part of the window, which means it is the sash which moves up and down or swings in or out allowing airflow.

Wall Connection

Typically a window frame attached to a wall is a very strong connection and due to the different layers of construction material involved in the installation of the window. Screws, shims, wood studs, masonry, siding, flashing, caulking are some of the materials which are used to integrate a window frame into the structure of a wall.

So the “window frame to structure” connection does not represent a vulnerability for intruders to attack.

All SwissShade Clients receive 3D renderings like the one above to assist in installation clarity.

Sash to Frame Connection

The connection between the sash and the window frame is another story.  The mechanisms used to connect a window sash to the window frame are very much a vulnerability. In regular window construction, typical window hardware does not take into account forced entry by an intruder. At best most regular window hardware is designed to accomplish two things

    • Keep air and water out
    • Allow for easy operation of the sash when opening and closing.

These two design criteria are both very low force operations when compared with the type of forces exerted when an intruder is actively attempting to rupture a window. Simply stated, most windows are built for easy operation and to keep out wind and rain. There is no real security in this typical design. These attack vulnerabilities point up where a good security window will focus on materials and design.

Learn more about Hardware for Security Windows.

Multi-point Lock Connection Locations

Close up of Lock Cam Detail

The two most vulnerable design features of regular windows

1. The glass unit.

2. The connection between the sash and the frame.

High Security Windows address these vulnerabilities through enhanced design, manufacturing practices and materials.

Most window security technologies focus on the most fragile part of a window, the glass. Window Security Bars are used to distance the intruder from being able to exert any attack force directly upon the window. Window Security Films are adhered directly to the glass surface making it more difficult to penetrate.

“Laminated glass units are the most robust way to reduce the

penetrability of the glass unit.”

There are a variety of (LINK) designs for laminated glass units, they typically involve the stacking and laminating of various transparent materials together to achieve specific penetrative resistant characteristics. This is where industry specific language enters the conversation to assist with clear communication and the setting of clearly articulated industry standards. Terms such as Bullet Resistant, or Impact Resistant glass are used.


But these terms are only a starting point, the security window and door industry, along with government bodies, and other interested stakeholders (police, judicial or military for example) have come together to identify specific guidelines to be used in the proper classification of the various levels of penetrative resistance which can be achieved in security laminated glass units.

SwissShade + Security Burglar Proofing standards of security is A3, discover more about our classifications.

Tests according to international standards

Impact Resistant Window

“Impact Resistant” is another term used to characterize the anti-penetrative properties of a laminated stack of glass. An Impact Resistant window is less robust than a ballistic resistant window, but still magnitudes more robust than any type of Film.

Impact resistant windows, like the name implies, is a design and construction methodology which is engineered to be able to withstand a variety of laboratory tests which are meant to replicated a penetration attack made by an intruder.


Impact resistance, similar to ballistic resistance, demands specific laboratory results to be certified as truly “impact resistant”. These tests include the number of strikes of a sharp object (like an axe) it takes to create a rupture of a specific dimension. Or another test is the repetitive dropping of a steel ball from different heights to prove the impact resistant qualities of the window.

Once again, the Impact Resistant characteristics of laminated glass units are a standardized and clearly defined set of known and controllable design and engineering elements.

Physical Security vs Security Surveillance Systems

Security/Surveillance Systems sometimes called home security systems made up of  alarms, sensors, cameras, displays, recorders and other pieces of equipment are designed as deterrents to intruders. A security camera mounted on the outside of a structure pointing at a vulnerable area is designed to do two things.

1. Deter the intruder from being recorded

2. Record attacks in the hopes of later being used as evidence.

It is important to note that these types of home security systems do not offer any level of  enhanced penetration denial. Security/Surveillance Systems operate strictly on a psychological level and as an evidence gathering mechanism.

Deterrence is an effective weapon against intruders who notice the deterrence. Not all intruders are in a state of mind to be aware of surveillance deterrences. Cameras mounted on walls only sometimes deter intruders and then only the intruders who notice them. 

The difference being pointed up here is this. The typical Break & Enter event lasts less than 7 minuets and the intruder is then gone from the scene. Even if an alarm is activated, loud noises do not physically inhibit breaking and entering. By contrast, Window Security and Door Security represent a real and formidable physical barrier which actively inhibits intruders from breaking or rupturing their way into structures.

Window Protection & Glass

Protecting windows involves using specific materials to increase the force required to rupture break-in. Glass is by far the most fragile and vulnerable material used in a building or structure. It requires the least amount of force to become ruptured, allowing an opening for an intruder to gain entry.


There are many benefits to regular glass used in typical construction. Glass allows light in, it allows a line of sight both into and out of the building. Operating Glass Units allow for air ventilation and not to mention, there are appealing architectural features which glass and windows bring to a building. These benefits are enjoyed 24/7 all year long.

Unfortunately, there does exist the the rare event where a window or door is attacked by an intruder. (It’s estimated that 3/4 of all homes will be broken into in the next 20 years.) When this happens, all the enjoyable characteristics of glass instantly become liabilities.

“The very properties of glass which make it such a useful and enjoyable building material are also the properties which make it the weakest point in the building envelope.”

To help remedy this situation “Window Protection” as a technology and a practice has evolved over 100’s of years. There are various ways to protect windows from unwanted attack, some of them are quite rudimentary, like metal bars, while others are more sophisticated using novel materials and unique manufacturing practices, laminated glass for example is used in high security windows.

Window Security Bars

Laminated glass unit

Window bars or security bars for windows are a physical barrier designed and installed to frustrate or inhibit an intruder from being applying force to the windows of a building. This is accomplished by attaching narrow metal bars across the window openings in a building envelope.

Window bars or security bars for windows are a physical barrier designed and installed to frustrate or inhibit an intruder from being applying force to the windows of a building. This is accomplished by attaching narrow metal bars across the window openings in a building envelope.


Security Window bars also have drawbacks. For example they limit the operation of windows from opening or restrict the type of operable window which may be used. Another drawback of security bars for windows is in many cases the metal bars across the window openings do not fit with the architectural look of the building. Finally, Window bars because of their narrow profile are only effective up to a certain size and then their ability to burglar proof the opening is diminished.

Security Film for windows

As mentioned above novel materials may be used to increase the force required to rupture a window. Security Films are just such an example.

Security Films are thin virtually transparent materials which are mounted on-top of regular glass. Window Films designed for security have strong internal properties, which, when adhered to a glass surface creates a combination effect where the window film and the glass act as one material. The film strength is passed to the glass and the stability of the shape of the glass is passed to the film.

“The end result is this. Regular glass with a security film mounted onto its surface increases
the amount of force required to rupture the glass.”

Window films for security do not prevent or inhibit the rupture of the glass but they make the process of rupturing more time consuming and increase the force required to create an opening. Films can also carry other desirable properties, tinting for example.

It is critical to understand that Window Security Films only slightly increase the force required to rupture the glass and only minimally increase the time required to create the rupture when compared with **burglar resistant laminated glass units**.


Furthermore, Window Security films are typically an ‘after market’ application which are mounted onto ‘regular duty’ windows. Films do not enhance the strength of the frames of windows, nor do they address the weakness of  any hardware locking mechanisms. 


Simply stated, Window Films are marginally useful in frustrating an intruder who has a low level of ambition to penetrate the structure of a building. If an intruder is motivated to breach a window which has Security Film on it, they will just increase the force require to and spend the extra amount of time required (30 seconds) to create an opening, or they may simply find a weaker spot to attack like the lock or the frame of the window itself.

Bullet Proof

So Bullet Proof or Bullet Resistant is not a clear enough term because there is a wide variety of ballistic projectiles. Some are heavy and slow others are light and fast in comparison, some have penetrative design features while others have a tendency to explode on impact. There are a range of calibers, shapes and speeds to take into consideration to determine exactly how bullet-proof a window is and for what type of bullet. There are clearly defined and established Bullet proof standard or (bullet resistant window criteria) which need to be tested and proven in laboratory conditions to establish the certification of performance of the bullet proof security level of a laminated glass unit.

Tests according to international standards

The differences in anti bullet penetration characteristics among different laminated glass units are detailed elsewhere. But for our purposes here, it can be said, ballistic resistant laminated glass units possess a range of anti-penetrative properties depending on the number of layers of material, the properties of those layers, and the thickness of those layers. And to be clear,

the properties of these types of glass units are magnitudes stronger than any type of “Security Film”, window films have practically no bullet resistant properties.


There are a variety of solutions available to enhance the protection of your security  windows and doors, the lower cost options look to enhance certain physical characteristics of typical windows and doors. While other window and door products are specifically designed to achieve exact levels of anti-penetration to specific forms of attack, these products tend to be more expensive but are magnitudes more reliable in the event of a real attack.