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Security Glass Comparison: Laminated Glass, Tempered Glass, Security Window Film, and Polycarbonate Riot Glass

By September 9, 2020June 24th, 2022Building Security, Safety & Security Films, Window Film
Broken glass to illustrate the importance of security glass

Curious which security glass solution would do the best job if you want to keep your business or location safe from rioters, looters, active shooters, thieves, storms, and more?

Here are the answers you’ve been looking for.

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What Is Security Glass?

Let’s start with a quick definition:

Security glass is meant to reduce the likelihood that someone in your business or building would be severely hurt by flying glass or glass shards if your doors or windows were to break.

As an added bonus, certain types of security glass and security film help prevent your glass from breaking, which can deter thieves and looters, and slow down active shooters.

Now that you know what security glass is, let’s talk about the different types of security solutions you can trust to protect your windows and doors.

Laminated Glass

Laminated glass consists of two panes of glass that sandwich a clear vinyl sheet. Although the glass on either side of the vinyl pane can be broken, the vinyl stays intact to reduce glass shards and spall, and to deter intruders.


  • Blocks 99% of UV rays
  • Dampens sounds
  • Cut and edged after laminating, which makes it easy and fast to install
  • Blast and impact resistant


  • Though it holds together with impact, it sure does look ugly after it’s hit
  • Can be pushed out of the frame if stressed enough

In addition to being used on windows, this glass is also used in windshields to keep you safe if a rock hits you on the highway.

Tempered Glass

Tempered glass is glass that has been rapidly heated and cooled in a tempering furnace at 1200˚ F. This process strengthens the glass to 4-5x its original capabilities and changes the structural properties of the glass, so it breaks into a trillion tiny cubes on impact.


  • Vastly improves the safety of anyone near the glass during an attack or blast because it breaks into little cubes instead of shattering into dangerously sharp flying shards


  • Because tempered glass is under pressure, it has been known to spontaneously break due to unseen chips or flaws
  • Cut and edged before tempering, which means it takes more time to procure and install
  • Is very easy for thieves and looters to breach

Tempered glass is most commonly used on doors and windows for safety, but it won’t do much to keep thieves and looters out if you don’t have additional security film for protection because it is easy to break.

Security Window Film

Security window film improves strength and impact resistance for both tempered and laminated glass, so you can keep your building, occupants, and inventory much safer than you could by solely relying on security glass.


  • Improves occupant safety by sticking glass together and reducing spall, which is the spray of broken glass that results from an impact or explosion
  • Can have an additional structural adhesive applied to anchor the film and glass to the frame for added forced entry protection
  • Strengthens all types of safety glass and plate glass
  • Slows down intruders and shooters
  • Can be applied to existing glass doors and windows
  • Delivers added benefits, including UV resistance, energy efficiency, and more
  • Provides protection from weather and blast events


  • Has limitations, will not stop intrusion if the right tools are used

Multilayered, tear-resistant security window film such as 3M Ultra won’t prevent an active shooter, looter, or other intruder from gaining access to your building, but it will slow them down long enough for you to get building occupants to safety.

Check out the video below to compare how long it takes to breach a window with security film, as compared to one without film.

Polycarbonate Riot Glass

Riot Glass is a patented clear shield and mechanically anchored frame system installed over top of the existing doors and windows. It is shatterproof and extremely impact resistant, and keeps looters, thieves, and other intruders out.


  • Shatterproof, usually requiring few replacements while staying attractive
  • Also protects against storms, hammers, and low and high-powered weapons
  • Has a 100% success track record in stopping forced entry (with NGS clients)
  • May make you eligible for an insurance discount (check with your insurance agent)


When selecting your Riot Glass solution, keep in mind that safety film is more affordable, but polycarbonate is more impact resistant. If you need to resist shooters, choose polycarbonate.

Watch the videos below to see how effectively Riot Glass prevents crimes.

Discover the Best Safety Window Film & Glass Solution for Your Needs – Contact NGS!

There’s a lot to know about security glass and security film – and the choices you make could end up being life or death decisions. Before making your final solution selection, it’s best to consult with an expert.

Find the right security glass solution for your precise needs when you ask the security glazing experts at NGS.

At NGS, protecting people is our mission. When you’re ready to protect your building or location, check with the nationally acclaimed security glazing experts first.

Get answers to your security glass questions.



Image by MichaelGaida from Pixabay

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