What testing has been done for security film as it relates to hurricane protection, is it Dade County Approved?
The following information, videos and test data are provided by Madico Window Films and Enpro Distributing for interior application of 8-mil security film and, structural silicone attachment of the glass to frame, to 3/16” single pane tempered glass as used typically in sliding glass doors. Madico is the oldest manufacture of window films in the industry and the largest supplier of security film, 8-mil and greater, world wide.Answer: Most reputable manufacturers of safety and security film do extensive testing with their products for a variety of purposes. When properly installed, and in some cases enhanced with attachment to the existing window frame, security film can increase the shatter resistance of glass by up to 400% and with certain frames can hold the glass in place even after it is broken and under high pressure both positive and negative.Security film is a totally passive protection system providing 24/7 security. It is also one of the most economical protection retrofit products on the market. Enpro Distributing has been involved in the safety window film industry for over 25 years and have specialized in security film products for over 12 years. We are firm believers in the benefits of security films and window attachment systems for film and the ability of the system to protect property and lives. Enpro is a certified Safety Shield company for Madico Window Films and an IWFA accredited security film company. We are considered to be one of the largest suppliers of security films in the United States today and have the reputation of being an ethical and honest representative of the industry.In short, hurricane window film is a GREAT PRODUCT capable of making existing glass much safer in hurricane conditions. As a retrofit product, security film is an excellent approach to strengthening windows and glass doors to make them more shatter resistant, and to hold the glass together if it should be broken. It is important to point out here that hurricane standards for Dade County and the IBC only apply to NEW CONSTRUCTION, not existing construction. These standards do not address retrofit or existing windows which represent the majority of all security film projects. Thus when looking at test data for an existing application, the consumer must look to see how the window configuration tested, glass type and thickness, framing etc., compares to the window configuration in the actual existing structure.Also you must keep in mind that residential windows and frames are quite different from commercial windows. Typically residential glass is 1/8” annealed glass or on larger fixed panes, or sliding glass doors, may be 3/16” tempered. The glass is installed into wood, light weight aluminum frames or PVC plastic/vinyl frames. The frames are nailed or screwed into 2×4s as part of the frame of the house. There is nothing wrong with this type of construction as the size and weight of the glass is far less than found in commercial windows. However, in severe storms, high winds and heavy wind blown debris, these windows cannot withstand the same loads as commercial windows can. A commercial window is dramatically more rigid and structural than typical residential windows (the glass is at least ¼” and the frame is heavier gauge aluminum, wider with a deeper bite (recess to hold the glass)and can withstand much more abuse. When retrofitting commercial windows the filmed glass can be further enhanced/strengthened by attaching the filmed glass to the window frame by several different means (See www.enprodistributing.com security film and attachment systems). Note: some residential windows can be enhanced with attachment systems, however, most cannot. Companies who claim to be able to attach all residential windows should raise concerns about their ability or motivation.). Note: some residential windows can be enhanced with attachment systems, however, most cannot. Companies who claim to be able to attach all residential windows should raise concerns about their ability or motivation.). Note: some residential windows can be enhanced with attachment systems, however, most cannot. Companies who claim to be able to attach all residential windows should raise concerns about their ability or motivation.). Note: some residential windows can be enhanced with attachment systems, however, most cannot. Companies who claim to be able to attach all residential windows should raise concerns about their ability or motivation.Salespeople claim all sorts of benefits from using their products, because they really want to sell you. Sometimes they are telling the truth, some may stretch the truth and others may flat out lie. Just for the record, keep these facts in mind. Security film is NOT Blast PROOF, Hurricane PROOF, or Burglar PROOF. Security film is an improvement to existing glass. The level of improvement depends not only on the type of film and installation, but also on the type of glass and window holding the glass in place. ALL windows will benefit from the application of security film, and if you are not home or don’t have the manpower to board up your windows before a storm hits, then security film is the very best approach to protecting your home. The same security films are used for blast mitigation, hurricane protection and forced entry protection. There are different test criteria for each threat. The testing for film is designed to measure the effectiveness of a protection system as it relates to specific types of glass and frames. Most testing is done on commercial type windows (extruded aluminum 4”-6” deep frames) and 1/4” glass. Keep in mind that most residential glass is thinner than commercial glass and in completely different types of frames.For instance with regards to hurricane testing, there are several criteria and standards that can be tested. Dade County was the first to provide a specific criteria for hurricane protection of homes and buildings after Hurricane Andrew in 1992. The test “Protocol” requires protection systems for all windows and doors which prevent penetration by flying debris and pressure testing to show that the system will hold up to severe wind pressure and prevent water infiltration. If a system can prevent 90+% of wind and rain from entering through a window or door, after repeated impact and wind cycle (+ -) testing, then the system passes and an application can be made to Dade County for certification. An important note with Dade County is the size and velocity of the impact projectile. (A 9-pound 2×4 traveling at 34mph) Most states, counties, cities have now adopted the IBC (International Building Code) or RBC (Residential Building Code) which uses the same basic test criteria but in a universal format. The basis of these tests are the ASTM E 1996 and E 1886 for impact and wind pressure testing. The testing is done to various levels which are standardized by the IBC. The levels of protection required are based on the location of the structure in relation to the ocean. Missile impact ratings have 5 different categories A,B,C,D,E. Dade County rating is the equivalent of category “D”. Category “E” is the highest level. Each category is defined by the weight and size of the object and the velocity at which it is propelled at the target(glass).To our knowledge, NO FILM (retrofit or single layer) has ever successfully passed a Category “D” impact test AND the pressure testing which follows unless it is a specially designed window with multiple layers of film. There are new manufactured windows which use multi layers of security film which have passed all requirements, including Miami Dade. However, it is extremely unlikely that your windows would be the same. NOW HERE IS THE CONFUSING PART. Most hurricane protection products are exterior to the windows and doors they protect. But when you test an actual window, you must identify each type of glass and frame that you are testing, and ONLY the windows (glass and frame) that you test can be identified as passing. Because there are several thousand different types of windows and window/glass combinations, it is financially impossible for manufacturers to test each type. This is why there is no blanket approval by any testing agency or building codes group for window film. This does not mean that security film is not effective. It is EXTREMELY EFFECTIVE compared to the existing window with no protection. It creates a much stronger window and up to a certain level of impact and pressure will KEEP THE GLASS IN PLACE. To identify what that level is you need to look at the glass and window frame and even how the frame is connected to the structure. You need to consult with a knowledgeable person equipped to define what you have and how much protection you can expect. You also need HONEST INFORMATIONUNSCROUPULOUS DEALERS MISLEAD CONSUMERS: Many window film dealers misrepresent their products as “Hurricane Proof”, “Dade County Approved” “Dade Tested” or meets “Dade County Protocol” in an effort to confuse the consumer into thinking that filmed glass is just as strong as a shutter system or other exterior protection system. This is simply not true. Film is great up to the point where the force is greater than the window/film combination. The question then is how much force can film protect against? The answer, again, is dependent on the size of window, type of frame, thickness and type of glass and the type of film applied. We have tested to Dade County and passed the center impact test with 15 mil film but not the corner test resulting in failure by their standards. However, any window system with 8-mil security film is far stronger and more resistant than with no protection. And, by the way, ½” plywood does not pass Dade County standards either.If you have received unusual claims from an installer of security film products, we suggest that you contact the manufacturer for clarification. Request the claims in writing and submit them to the manufacturer, the IWFA or the District Attorneys Office of Consumer Fraud for investigation. Unethical companies and representatives hurt everyone and give our great industry a black eye.HOW GOOD IS SECURITY FILM IN HURRICANES?On the commercial glass and window frames tested by Madico, (including 3/16” tempered glass, 8-mil security film meets (passes) the IBC impact levels A,B and C. Category “C” is a 4-pound 2×4 traveling at 27mph. This is a severe impact and typical of NON-Coastal requirements. In the complete testing which includes cyclic testing of positive and negative pressure filmed windows pass when additional attachment systems are included to hold the glass in the frame.This means that commercially framed windows with a minimum of ¼” thick glass when protected by security film, typically 8-mils in thickness and attached to the frame by approved tested systems will withstand the destructive force of most storms so long as debris impact is not so large as to overwhelm the system. As a comparison, commercial glass/frames with 8-mil film and attachment is very close in strength to ½” plywood attached to the outside of the windows. The film is always there, does not inhibit your view and requires no storage. It’s cost effective, invisible protection that provides increased strength to your windows and doors and will protect against flying debris and hurricane force winds. But it is NOT Dade County Approved.