Bulletproof Glass Retrofits for Schools

Until recently, effectively protecting a campus from an active assailant has been out of reach for most budgets. New retrofit technology makes bulletproof glass affordable.

Bulletproof Glass Retrofits for Schools

New light weight bullet resistant glass technology is enabling campus security professionals to choose a cost-effective retrofit bullet resistant glass system rather than a far more expensive full replacement. The differences between retrofit and full replacement systems are nuanced, so this article is aimed at helping you differentiate between the two.

How do retrofit bullet resistant systems work?

Retrofit framing is designed to hold bullet resistant glass or other clear glazing such as acrylics or polycarbonates into the existing window framing. Riot Glass® for example, is a patented system designed for this purpose, so you do not need to remove the window frames you have now. The company’s engineers design a system specifically for each area of your campus. The framing is so versatile it can be adapted to most styles of architecture and framing types. There are even systems for historic buildings that do not require drilling into the building’s window surrounds.

Why choose to retrofit over installing all-new bullet resistant glazing?

In a word, cost. Removing all of the existing windows and doors is a major construction project and can open the proverbial can of worms – leading to stucco, masonry, drywall, waterproofing, and other surrounding substrate repairs, not to mention the cost of the new framing system itself. Your costs will vary based on protection level and other factors, but prices for all-new ballistic systems can be ten times the cost of a retrofit system, as a general rule of thumb.

Another compelling reason to choose retrofit over new is the avoidance of down time. Retrofitting is considerably less evasive and complex, so you can think of it more like having new window coverings installed rather than a weeks or months-long construction project. There is far less noise and disruption. Damage to the landscaping and surrounding building façade is completely avoided, and dust and overall mess during the retrofitting process is significantly reduced.

Do retrofit and new protect the same?

Retrofit systems like Riot Glass are best suited for UL752 Levels 1-6 (see chart here) which covers the vast majority of campus applications. For systems rated at higher levels, a completely new system is required. These higher-rated systems are extremely heavy and require thick glass that is not suitable for retrofitting into doors and windows and will usually require structural support modifications.

How do retrofit systems compare to security window film?

Security window films have become a popular way to slow down an intruder, but they are not bullet resistant and only offer a very short entry delay of a few seconds. If an armed assailant is determined to get into the building, security window films are not likely to buy much time. 60% of all active shooter events are over before police arrive*. Your glass needs to be strong enough to delay entry long enough for authorities to mobilize and neutralize the threat. Retrofit systems are tested to delay entry for several minutes, even under extremely heavy attacks with firearms and tools such as sledgehammers. Standard laminated safety glass and security window films are not likely to work in those conditions.


When you are working with a limited budget, you need alternatives to standard all-new ballistic glazing. Retrofit bullet resistant glass solutions such as Riot Glass® are quickly gaining recognition as a cost-effective way to cover more ground for less with vastly superior forced entry strength and bullet-stopping power than films and laminated glass. To learn more visit www.riotglass.com.

* http://www.allgov.com/news/controversies/60-percent-of-active-shootings-in-us-end-before-police-arrive-140926?news=854360

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One response to “Bulletproof Glass Retrofits for Schools”

  1. JPC says:

    In case of fire or other tragedy where students/staff cannot exit through doors and need to use windows as an escape, how will they get out?

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