Why do people opt for unbreakable glass in their home? First of all, there is actually no such thing as unbreakable. It just means you have to use something heavier to make it break. In the way the Titanic is unsinkable, you could say, a window can be called unbreakable. Still, in many cases such ‘unbreakable’ glass might be sufficiently more strong to withstand most would-be burglars. I know this because many years ago, I locked myself completely out of my own house. It didn’t occur to be to call, at the time, a locksmith who would have surely been able to get me inside easily. Instead, I picked up a rock from the yard, and proceeded to attempt to smash just one small pane of glass in the front door; one that would allow me to easily unlock the door from the inside by reaching in. To my surprise, though, hard as I hit it, the pane would not break. I was impressed and, later, happy about this because I found another way in by squeezing the frame of a back door. That was something I discovered was way too easy, so I remedied that issue later, too.
Unbreakable glass, therefore, is exactly that. An extra incentive for burglars to simply move on to their next target, the next street, or go out of the burglary business entirely.
Unbreakable glass, however, costs more. If you are replacing huge panes of glass, and in addition you need other characteristics (such a UV light insulation), you can quickly jack up the price of your window installation. Still, in the right place, it can complete thwart a burglar’s intentions if used in the right place.
At a certain point of cost, such unbreakable glass in not worth it. If you were replacing the windows of a bank, any would-be robber is unlikely to use a small stone to gain access. They might instead steal a 1955 Buick and simply drive it through the front door. You’d see then how ‘unbreakable’ the glass in the door was.
If you are trying to protect your business, there is another excellent alternative that is both effective and also serves as a disincentive. That is wire reinforced glass. You’ve seen it before, I am sure, and it’s like half inch chicken wire right in the middle of the pane of glass. If the window is broken, it stays in place. Yes, it would have to be replace at some point after that, but it is truly effective. Only the truly foolish would bother trying to break through wire reinforced glass. The manufacturing process for such glass must be very interesting, and it, too, costs more than regular glass, but it does tell the world that there’s ‘little point in trying to break in here’.
Wire reinforced glass does, however present a problem. In cases of emergency – such as a fire – you or other people may need to exit the premises in a hurry. It would be a sad moment to discover you could not exit a room in your house because the windows were locked and the glass was unbreakable.
Another consideration for wire reinforced glass is, when it does break, it down not shatter into lethal shards. Many years ago, a building I was working in had just had their front doors thoroughly cleaned. A visitor mistook one glass door to be open. It was closed, and he walked right through it. The typical glass door will not break by his walking through it but, reportedly, a metal part of his briefcase was what actually smashed the glass. One particular shard of glass came down on him and sliced his neck open. He survived the accident, but only just. After the repairs to the door were done, the bank (as it happened) stuck a series of blue diamonds onto each window frame. After that, it was visually very obvious when a door was closed.
In summary, the ideal place for such ‘unbreakable’ glass in in areas where a would-be burglar would gain easy access to your home. Still, breaking glass makes noise. A burglar needs to be quiet, usually, because most people will be startled by the sound of breaking glass at three AM in the morning. Few people pay attention to car alarms any more, but breaking glass is different. It almost always means, someone is up to no good.
Use wire reinforced glass only where it is visually acceptable, and where you won’t need to exit that window in a hurry later. A home inspection, by the way, would flag as dangerous a room whose only exist was a fixed window with wire reinforced panes of glass. The same could be said for unbreakable glass, but a home inspector would likely not be able to detect that.
As far as glass options go, there are several considerations that are worth looking at if you are now considering replacing windows or glass panes in your home. With the feature of ultraviolet light protection, there is glass on the market that blocks 97% of the ultraviolet light that tries to go through a window, and that is at a 90 degree angle. Sunlight rarely enters a pane of glass at a 90 degree angle, and even a few degrees off that will reduce the throughput of ultraviolet light even more.
If you live in a neighborhood with high levels of ambient noise – such as near an airport, a freeway or a bus stop – consider triple glazed window. The level of noise reduction with such windows is remarkable. It’s only slightly more expensive but, for the side of a house that receives a lot of noise, it can improve the quality of your home enormously.
More next week!