Security Window film attachment systems

This is not an article that I wrote myself, but I was asked by the author, Casey Neeley for Window Film Magazine  to give my comments for it which can been seen towards the bottom of the article.

“It is extremely important that the appropriate film and attachment system be chosen when handling a security film project,” says Lacey Grooms, sales and operations manager for Solar Reflections of Charleston in Charleston, S.C.

But just what do installers need to know before taking on these projects? According to several industry members, assessing client needs, understanding the products, identifying when to apply and recognizing when to ask for help are the most paramount aspects of installing security films and attachment systems.

Know the Needs

Experts say understanding the customer’s expectations is half the battle when selecting security films and attachments.

“When selecting security films for a customer, it is important to understand the needs and expectations of the end user,” says David Leandro, owner and vice president of Pacific Rim Glass Tinting based in Kailua, Hi. “It is critical that customers fully comprehend the effectiveness, as well as the limitations, of the system they are purchasing. Educating your customers before they choose a product or system type will save you headaches down the road. Asking the right questions before you recommend a system is the best way to assure you will give the customer what they are asking for.”

“There are a number of considerations when recommending any type of attachment systems, whether mechanical, adhesive-type and/or structural silicone,” says Scott Haddock, vice president of the Protective Glazing Council and president/CEO of Easton, Md.-based Glasslock. “First and most important, what is the application—life-safety (impact), smash-and-grab/forced-entry, spontaneous glass failure, natural disasters (windstorm, seismic)? Once the application has been identified, then it would be important to gauge the performance level with existing conditions of the window system, type of glass (tempered, heat-strengthened, annealed, etc.), thickness of existing glass, frame type and how it’s connected to the substrate. A window needs to be viewed as a window system, because it performs as a system.”

Understanding the full expectations, and preparing to try and meet those, including visible standards, is an important part of assessing client needs.

“Most of your clients will not be fully educated on the different options and specifications, so it’s up to you, the professional, to lead them down the right path, based on their needs,” says Grooms. “There needs to be a detailed, in-depth conversation as to what the client’s solar control and security goals are, the aesthetic comparisons of the films and attachment systems and the client’s budget for the project.”

“When selecting a security system for windows, installers should look for a product that is both effective and aesthetically pleasing,” adds Leandro. “Educating ourselves on the different products available to us will help ensure we apply the best solution available. Customers should be given examples of the end look of each option, as well as the differences in effectiveness.”

Know the Products

Knowledge about the systems, as well as how to properly install them, is critical, Leandro says.

“Installing quality systems requires practice, practice, practice,” he says. “Fit and finish are important when installing attachment systems, whether rigid or wet glazing. Poor installations can give the appearance of poor quality.

While this may not be the case, a customer may feel the system is lacking, due to a bad appearance. The better the system looks, the more confident the customer will feel.”

Having an extensive understanding about the varieties of film, and those which are applicable to the necessary job, is a crucial aspect of installation.

“Anyone representing security film needs to be aware of and educated about all the options, so not to limit their own skillset or their clients’ options,” says Grooms. “The approved wet-glaze attachment systems are Dow Corning 995 and GE SCS2000. These come in a wide variety of colors so that you can help you client decide what best fits their window frames. Always keep in mind the importance of aesthetics to most clients. There are also upgrade options, such as Bond Kap or other finishing trims, which should be shown to all clients. This will add to the installation time but will also give you a broader spectrum of options—allowing you to make more of a profit—and will ultimately make for a happier client because it has such a nice, clean-finished appearance.

“The approval for the attachment systems are done by the film manufacturers, based on third party testing they have done with the attachment systems and the film,” she adds. “We use Saint-Gobain Solar Gard’s ArmorCoat security films and know that they and the other major manufacturers have approved GE SCS 2000 and Dow Corning 995, based on bomb-blast testing done and also testing done as per ASTM E 1886 and E 1996 (missile impact and cycling testing). They also have the sealants tested for adhesion to the hard coat on the film to make certain it will hold the film under the pressure to which it will be exposed.”

Installers should be so knowledgeable about their products that they can inform customers accurately and effectively as to the options that are available.

“Educating your customer about security window films and their complementing attachment systems is the most important part of the process,” Leandro says. “They need to be aware of the system’s abilities and limitations in the role for which it was installed. Ultimately, our customers should feel confident in their choice of a product, a system and the company that installed it for them.”

“There has to be a strong desire to be an expert when it comes to the available options, as well as the actual installations,” adds Grooms. “Safety film is a completely different animal than traditional solar control films and it is extremely important to be represented passionately and accurately. I recommend that anyone involved in security film sales or installations involve themselves in as many such projects as possible. First and foremost, make sure you are fully and properly educated and trained, then get out there and take on those complex, detailed security projects.”

To become educated about security film installation and receive proper training, Haddock says dealers should reach out to their manufacturers.

“A window needs to be viewed as a window system, because it performs as a system.” — Scott Haddock, vice president of the Protective Glazing Council and president/CEO of Easton, Md.-based Glasslock

Know When It Matters

Part of being an educated expert in safety films also means knowing when you don’t need to use an attachment system. According to both Grooms and Haddock, the film and attachment system required should match the client’s needs.

“There are times that an attachment system is important, but there are also times that it’s not,” states Grooms. “If clients need human impact protection, where they are only concerned about the glass breaking safely, or if they need to pass ANSI Z97.1 to receive a Certificate of Occupancy from a building inspector in South Carolina on non-tempered glass, then just a 4-mil film with no attachment will suffice. As it will hold the broken glass pieces together rather than allowing it to shatter this will save the client money and have a much more aesthetically pleasing finish. However, when property damage and loss is the concern, or if the client needs to pass GSA 3B standards for fragment retention, the stronger films and attachment systems would need to come into play, narrowing their choices. To sum it up, the security film and attachment system used in any given project should be matched to the perceived threat or specific needs.”

“Once the client needs have been identified, the next step would be the choice of fragment-retention film (FRF) and attachment. For impact and/or simple smash-and-grab, Daylite (no attachment) applied FRF certainly will work as a deterrent and can meet local or Federal impact codes or criteria,” adds Haddock. “Once it is determined that a higher-risk location for forced-entry are opportunities to use an attachment system.”

Know to Get Help
Installers facing questions concerning a job and the use of an attachment system should turn to outside sources.

“If you don’t know where to start, call your security film manufacturers and the attachment system manufacturers,” Grooms says. “All of the major manufacturers have trainers, sales teams, websites, videos, etc., that can guide you. Get on the Internet. This a great tool for advancing your education. You can research test results, performance specifications, ‘how-to’ videos, etc.”

“I would recommend an installer rely on a film manufacturer or a firm that has years of experience with the use of various attachments,” Haddock adds. “In most cases, the use of FRF and attachments in events such as explosions, windstorm or earthquakes, your goal is to reduce as many glass hazards as possible and in the case of forced-entry, buying as much time as possible. That being said, the only tip I could offer is to follow closely the instructions for the various attachments. If not installed correctly, some systems can cause a bigger hazard than when you started.”

If you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t be afraid to turn to a third-party. “

If you don’t have experience with attachment systems, then I recommend working with a firm that does,” says Haddock. “It can save a lot of time, money and headaches in the long run.”

Tips from a GLAZING RISK Consultant

James Allen, glazing risk consultant for AITCo Consulting, a glazing risk assessment firm based in Harleston, Norfolk, U.K., told Window Film magazine some tips installers should consider when contracted for safety and security jobs.

According to Allen, installers should:

1. “[Ask] what is the client trying to achieve and is it possible? Remember that some wishes defy the laws of physics;

2. Carry out a thorough risk assessment to form the basis of [the] structured security offer;

3. Source and validate the best possible materials for the work identified;

4. Ensure careful preparation in collaboration with the client or his representatives;

5. Arrange competent installation work under strict supervision;

6. Initiate contractual warranties, maintenance requirements and/or project aftercare; and

7. Remember that you owe a duty of care to the owners of the glass, even if you are not directly employed by them.

“[Also] remember,” he adds, “the visible glass gap between the frame rebate and the edge of the applied film is crucial. Independent tests show that wherever a gap is visible at any point around the perimeter in excess of the pane thickness, then impact resistance will be seriously impaired … These tests were undertaken for safety glass under direct physical impact—they have a direct correlation to blast impact.”

Additionally, he notes that installers should “never forget that application of security glazing film with any attendant accessories is a matter of serious concern. A fully professional approach is demanded from all parties to an installation. Lives are at risk in the event of failure and it is the duty of all involved to act responsibly. A cavalier attitude spells disaster.”

The original article can be found here.

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