Safety window film for storm mitigation
Every year, homeowners around the world spend millions of dollars to fortify their property from an assortment of potential disasters, and storm protection drives demand in hurricane-prone regions. Laminated glass, storm shutters, storm panels and impact-resistant screens number among the approved products for protection, and they meet building codes for new construction. Safety window film represents another effective means for protection, one often overlooked because it is a retrofit product.
People argue that the testing of retrofit products for wind-borne debris standards is too harsh and not realistic. These standards are designed for a worst-case scenario, as they should be. Yet not all buildings fall in the worst-case scenario, as statistics from past hurricanes indicate. After hurricane Andrew struck Florida, one insurance company executive said 65 percent of the claims paid were for buildings and homes with no structural damage; they were for interior damage from water coming through openings where glass had been. Once a building envelope is penetrated from flying debris, usually from glass breakage, wind, rain and airborne shards cause property damage and personal injury. However, safety film has been tested and proven as an effective means for glass-breakage protection.
Proof in testing
To test the glass-breakage mitigation performance of safety films, experts cite various storm simulation standards such as Southern Building Code Congress International’s SBCCI STD 12-99 and Dade County PA 201 and PA 203. Armorcoat safety film manufactured by Bekaert of Clearwater, Fla., was put through a series of these tests, conducted by the Hurricane Engineering & Testing Inc. of Miami. This included the large missile, small missile and cyclic pressure tests. These tests simulate heavy wind load and wind-borne debris caused by storms, using several densities of 2-by-4-inch wood and 10 8-millimeter ball bearings. Armorcoat safety film 4- and 8-millimeters thick was installed to 3⁄16-inch thick, 48-by-78-inch panes of annealed and tempered glass samples. The films were tested with Dow 995 silicone sealant. Once the corner and center areas of the glasses were hit with the large and small missiles, striking at various velocities, the samples were put under cyclic pressure testing: a series of 9,000 cycles of positive and negative pressure to test product endurance after breakage. This test simulated hurricane force winds as high as 175 miles per hour, but the Armorcoat treated glass impressively stayed in the frame.
Safety window film products such as Armorcoat are specialized film coatings that help keep windows and glass doors in place once shattered, preventing shards from becoming airborne and damaging. These strong, resilient films are optically clear, composed of tough, high-tensile polyester and ultra-strong mounting adhesives that bond the product to glass. They are available in thicknesses ranging from 4-to-14-millimeters, with thicker films offering greater protection.
The ability of safety window film to hold broken glass in place also can be greatly increased with the addition of an anchoring system of metal battens or a caulking sealant that secures the film to the frame of the window during installation. This system is recommended for coastal and commercial locations. For optimum product performance, Bekaert researchers recommend that the safety film adhesive have a bonding time of 30-to-90 days, depending on film thickness.
Applied safety film is not an approved product, but can afford significant protection for windows and doors. It can be the difference between an inexpensive window replacement and an expensive replacement cost for furniture, carpets or wallboard. Safety film is more affordable than many of the alternative mitigation devices. It is passive and requires no maintenance other than normal cleaning. Residents can maintain full visibility through the films, unlike other retrofit protection options such as plywood boarding. The product is available in solar-control versions that offer energy saving, glare reduction and ultraviolet reduction capabilities. Moreover, many installations can qualify for an insurance rebate, depending on the location of the home or building. The best rule of thumb is to get the most protection you can afford.
For more information on Armorcoat, view impact-testing clips, or find a dealer, visit www.ArmorcoatFilms.com or call 800/736-1836.