Choosing Bulletproof Drywall And Ballistic Panels
July 8, 2022
No ballistic barrier is complete without ballistic panels (often referred to casually as “bulletproof drywall”). That’s because, although cinder block and brick will stop most common bullet calibers, standard construction drywall will not. In fact, a 9mm bullet will penetrate more than two dozen sheets of half-inch drywall and still be able to do harm. That bullet will likewise pop through several layers of plywood—and even through stacks of two-by-fours.
In other words, most places people take cover—down beneath a counter or desk or in a locked room—really don’t offer much better protection than a row of hedges. But adding even a single .25 inch ballistic panel to that wall or reception desk will stop those 9mm bullets cold.
That said, Total Security Solutions CEO Jim Richards has found that “ballistic panels are often neglected by companies who don’t take a ‘system’ approach to bullet-resistant security.” This is a natural consequence of how most people enter the ballistic security field. If you start out as a glazier and branch into offering security glazing, you will tend to focus on windows. “Customers are the same way,” Jim points out. “Windows are where everyone focuses, and then doors. The bulletproof panels are literally invisible, and that makes them easy to forget.”
Although it’s often easier to install ballistic panels during construction, they are regularly retrofitted to existing locations.
An Introduction to Ballistic Panels
“Bulletproof drywall” isn’t drywall. It’s UL-rated bullet-resistant fiberglass that goes under drywall, wood paneling, or veneer. Ballistic panels come in rigid sheets (like plywood or drywall—hence the name). Depending on the security level, your ballistic panel can range from .25 to 1.5 inches (for comparison, most drywall is .5 inches).
As with many ballistic materials and barriers, it’s best to think of ballistic panels as being in one of two categories: Level 1–3 or Level 4+.
Level 1–3 materials are engineered to stop clusters of shots from a variety of handguns. Ballistic panels in this category are between .25 and .5 inches thick. Although the material is much harder than drywall or plywood, it can usually be cut and drilled on-site using conventional tools (provided you use carbide or ceramic saw blades and drill bits). Even contractors who have never worked with ballistic materials or fiberglass before can usually install Level 1–3 panels without too much trouble.
Level 4+ materials are engineered to stop many shots from various long guns (including high-powered and tactical “assault” rifles, shotguns, and so on). These are weapons and bullets designed for maximum penetration and are thus significantly harder to stop than pistol rounds. As a result, Level 4 ballistic panels are generally at least three times thicker (and thus three times more expensive) than Level 1–3 panels.
For example, a Level 3 panel is .5 inches thick. A Level 4 panel is roughly 1.5 inches thick (i.e., about as thick as two packs of playing cards). While Level 4+ materials can, in theory, be cut and drilled on site, it is going to be slow work and will be hard on tools. Anything beyond minimal trimming or drilling a few holes will likely not be practical, even for experienced contractors.
Ballistic Panel Installation: Renovation/Retrofit
You can approach a ballistic renovation in several ways. Some facility owners—especially if they are going with Level 4 security or higher—choose to tear out all of the old drywall, secure the new ballistic panels directly to the studs, and then layer new drywall over the top. It’s extremely hard to drill or drive a nail into bullet-resistant fiberglass, so having that outer layer of drywall will make it easier for future contractors or building occupants to hang pictures and sconces, mount switch plates, attach new trim and molding, and so on.
In other situations—especially where you’re using Level 1–3 materials—you might simply choose to mount the ballistic panels directly over the existing drywall. You can then add another outer layer of drywall or simply prime and paint the fiberglass itself (despite the cross-hatched appearance, the surface is actually finished smooth on most ballistic panels).
You can likewise enhance the security of existing counters, reception desks, and half-walls. In most cases, contractors will mount precut ballistic panels to the interior of a reception desk or counter. Alternatively, the ballistic panel can be secured to the outside of the built-in furniture and then painted or veneered to blend with the building’s interior.
Ballistic Panel Installation: New Construction
New construction is more straightforward: Simply mount the ballistic panels to the studs and then cover with drywall. Roughly half of all the ballistic paneling TSS sells goes directly to contractors for jobs like these.
“The fiberglass itself, in the scheme of things with ballistic materials, is inexpensive,” Jim explains. “So sometimes what we see in new construction is that they decide to install the bulletproof drywall now, knowing that they may ultimately determine they need a full ballistic security barrier at some point in the future. Later, converting that room to a ‘safe room’ is as simple as hanging a new UL-rated door. That’s hardly any labor at all. Even replacing windows or adding backglazing is pretty straightforward, compared with going back in and redoing all the walls.”
Maximize Protection and Value with Complete Professional Ballistic Barrier System Installation
“Regardless of security level,” Jim explains, “Having a full system fabricated, rather than buying it in pieces and having a local contractor handle it, is usually best.”
This is because, especially with ballistic fiberglass panels, you can see significant savings by having a system fabricated instead of simply buying a stack of sheets of paneling to cut and install on your own.
“We cut it on a CNC water jet, not by hand. The layout and holes are uniform, with good square cuts and tight corners. All the cutouts for power boxes and receptacles, doing that with a drill and jigsaw is very slow going in the field. So, when we cut the pieces, it isn’t just that you save time not having to make those cuts. It also means the installation is easier, and the fit and finish end up nicer. But you are also saving money because we can be so much more efficient with materials. We can yield it and nest your job in with other jobs we’re fabricating. You don’t end up buying a full sheet because you need one more twelve-inch strip to finish a wall. With a fully fabricated system, the buyer just pays for what they need for their job.”
Thinking about securing your building? Give TSS a call today to discuss what options are best for you.
@TSSBulletProof #TSSBulletProof #bulletproof #healthcaresecurity #security #bulletproofglass
Company: Total Security Solutions Inc
Product: Bullet Resistant Fiberglass
Attack Resistant Steel Doors and Frames (June 8, 2022), Bullet Resistant Glass meeting UL 752 (June 1, 2022), A Better Backglazing Window System For Enhanced Office Security (May 23, 2022), [VIDEO] New Removable Backglazing System for Ballistic Protection (April 20, 2022), Benefits of Prefab Guard Booths (March 7, 2022), Learn the best security practices for corporate offices in live-fire demonstration [video] (December 7, 2021), Improving Ballistic Resistance for Enhanced Government Security (November 8, 2021), Strengthen Your Bank Security Procedures (October 18, 2021), Bullet Resistant Steel Doors & Frames (August 25, 2021), Bullet-resistant windows with voice-transmission options (July 5, 2021)
Closed-Cell Insulation (June 15, 2022), Prefabricated, pre-insulated, secondary containment and conduit piping systems for industrial and commercial applications (June 3, 2022), Expert studies show that the Xypex non-soluble crystalline structures protect & heal concrete from within (April 12, 2022), Tyvek vs GreenGuard: Choosing the Best Housewrap for Your Project (February 9, 2022), Ozone Resistant TPV Waterstops (January 24, 2022), Moisture Management in Building (January 14, 2022), Ventilating the top and bottom of a cavity wall (October 27, 2021), TIGER Drylac® powder coatings for agricultural and construction machinery (September 10, 2021), Looking for better fire-rated horizontal membrane assemblies? (August 11, 2021), New University In Georgia Benefits From Penetron Technology (July 14, 2021)
Do OSHA Drone Inspections Increase the Need for Proper Roof Fall Protection? (June 29, 2022), Common Sheet Lead Questions (June 27, 2022), Physical Security in Layers: Turnstile Locations on a Corporate Campus (June 17, 2022), Attack Resistant Steel Doors and Frames (June 8, 2022), Bullet Resistant Glass meeting UL 752 (June 1, 2022), How can you customize a bike rack to incorporate your logo? (May 27, 2022), Temporary Overlay Markers (TOM) - Road Markers (May 25, 2022), 6 Common Places Fires in Buildings Begin (May 20, 2022), Bollard Installation Tricks: How to Install into Pavers (May 16, 2022), Bil-Guard 2.0: designed with worker safety in mind (May 11, 2022)
Physical Security in Layers: Turnstile Locations on a Corporate Campus (June 17, 2022), Reduce Operating Expenses by Automating Package Management (June 13, 2022), Attack Resistant Steel Doors and Frames (June 8, 2022), The best mailboxes for single-family new construction in 2022 (June 6, 2022), A Better Backglazing Window System For Enhanced Office Security (May 23, 2022), [VIDEO] New Removable Backglazing System for Ballistic Protection (April 20, 2022), Brighten Your Space with Themed Bike Racks (March 17, 2022), Benefits of Prefab Guard Booths (March 7, 2022), Learn the best security practices for corporate offices in live-fire demonstration [video] (December 7, 2021), As America's Manufacturing Comes Back Online, Are Increases in OSHA Roof Safety Inspections on the Horizon? (November 15, 2021)
Timber Curtain Walls for Public-Facing Buildings (May 2, 2022), Safeguarding the Health of Building Occupants (April 25, 2022), A Dynamic Defense for Earthquake-Prone Zones (April 22, 2022), Folding Accordion Shutter provides immediate protection from hurricanes, storm and intrusion (April 18, 2022), TECTUM Create! Direct-Attach Ceiling and Wall Panels (April 6, 2022), Willard Shutter Grilles and Screens (March 28, 2022), Smoke Barrier and Partition Requirements: Everything You Need to Know (March 11, 2022), The Pros and Cons of Matte Black Hardware, Shower Pans and Trim in a Bathroom Remodel (March 9, 2022), Choosing the Best Faux Stone Panels: What You Need to Know Before Buying (March 2, 2022), MorZip® Roof & Wall Systems (February 2, 2022)