How to Prevent Attacks on Glass Windows and Panels

In the Greater Vancouver area, most ground-level retail locations are surrounded by glass in the forms of glass doors, glass windows, glass panels and even glass walls. On the upside, they let the maximum amount of light in and present maximum visibility to foot traffic. On the downside, they are very vulnerable to damage from kinetic attacks. In the Downtown Vancouver area, glazing companies are always busy replacing broken glass panels and glass windows.

Here are a few tips on preventing attacks on glass panels or minimizing the damage:

  • Scissor Gates: Folding gates that can be stored out of sight during business hours.
  • Rolling Shutters: Completely blocks the entire glass area and offers the best protection during non-business hours.
  • Wire Mesh Security Screens: Cannot be put away during business hours but also provides emergency egress to meet Fire Code Standards.

These three options offer a high degree of protection against kinetic attacks but are quite visible or bulky. As such, some of our clients hire general contractors to create pockets in walls and ceilings to conceal these security upgrades. 

Scissor Gates

Scissor Gates are ubiquitous throughout Vancouver. It is hard to drive by any retail area without seeing at least a few every block. The reason for their popularity is that:

  1. They can be folded away during business hours and not be visible to the public.
  2. They can effectively seal off areas to provide extra security.
  3. Scissor Gates are cost effective compared to Rolling Shutters or Grilles.
  4. Scissor Gates can be ordered in various sizes and lengths without huge customization costs or delays.
  5. Scissor Gates do not provide a good surface for graffiti.
Prevent Attacks on Glass Windows and Panels

Here in the Vancouver area, we are fortunate to have a local manufacturer of Scissor Gates to prevent attacks on glass windows, doors, and walls. So Scissor Gates are often the most cost-effective option for many customers. In addition, we can order them in various sizes and lengths to accommodate any client’s needs.

The most popular colour in Vancouver is what we call the textured black. It’s a non-glossy black finish that handles the Vancouver weather all year round and makes a non-ideal surface for graffiti.

Here are some things we don’t like about Scissor Gates:

  1. They have large diamond-shaped holes that allow people to reach in beyond the gate. So scissor gates require double-cylinder locks or single-sided lock mechanisms.
  2. Sliding Grilles offer more protection than Scissor Gates but cost double or triple.
  3. While it’s harder than it looks, people can still climb over a Scissor Gate.
  4. Scissor Gates by design have a lot of flex so the gates themselves are prone to vandalism. It is not easy, but they can be bent or cut with large bolt cutters.

If you are interested in installing a scissor gate for your location, we recommend booking early. Due to the current pandemic of glass vandalism in the Vancouver area, most gates companies are backed up a month or two in orders.

Rolling Shutters

For a very long time, rolling shutters were virtually non-existent in Vancouver. Many municipalities had banned them outright primarily due to aesthetic reasons. Having the entire downtown core shuttered off during non-business hours does not look pleasant nor inviting. 

However, outside of Vancouver and possibly Canada, rolling shutters are the defacto standard. Most large US cities have entire neighbourhoods with rolling shutters. These are some of the reasons why:

  1. Offer complete protection against vandalism and kinetic attacks.
  2. Can be motorized for ease of use.
  3. Rolling shutters can be integrated into the ceiling to be out of sight during business hours.

Rolling Shutters is probably the best way to protect your ground-level residence or business glass windows and panels from vandalism and other types of attacks. Regardless, they do have a few cons:

  1. Rolling shutters are the most costly option. Total protection comes at a price.
  2. Prone to graffiti and similar acts of vandalism.
  3. Maintenance and parts are more expensive compared to Scissor Gates.
  4. Rolling shutters are heavy. Your walling or ceiling may need reinforcement prior to installation.
best Rolling Shutters to prevent attacks on windows

Recently, we have begun to see a number of businesses in the Downtown Eastside install Rolling Shutters. One of my clients has a clicker/fob that he can use to bring the shutters up or down. It is very convenient and provides excellent protection especially considering his business is located in the heart of Gastown. However, it was costly to install and was part of an overall retrofit of the building.

Wire Mesh Security Screens

Wire Mesh Security Screens are not as popular in Canada as in the United States. Nevertheless, it can provide excellent protection against vandals and intruders.

Security Screens look essentially like a bug screen over windows and doors. However, they use a steel reinforced frame with a heavy gauge wire mesh. They are very difficult to kick in or damage using tools like a crowbar, baseball bats, or rocks. 

Similar to Rolling Shutters, they provide near-total protection against attacks on glass windows and panels yet still allow air to flow. In addition, compared to Scissor Gates and Rolling Shutters, most Security Screens are designed with an emergency exit latch on the inside. This allows them to provide egress during a fire which satisfies the Fire Code.

Prevent Attacks on Glass Windows and Panels with Wire Mesh Security Screens

Fire Departments do not typically like Scissor Gates and Rolling Shutters as they can block exits during an emergency even during non-business hours.

Final Thoughts on Glass Breakage

While all three options are worth considering to prevent attacks on glass windows and panels, it’s also important to do a cost-benefit analysis before making a purchase.

If you have an older single-pane glass panel, it is probably cheaper just to replace it every time it is damaged or broken. On the other hand, if you have a newer double or triple-pane glass window or thick glass plate panels for walls, it may be worth the investment to upgrade. Steel and metal can be repaired or patched but glass can only usually be replaced.

Finally, most businesses have more than one glass window or panel. When you start multiplying the cost by the number of glass windows or panels you have, the final price tag can get scary very quickly.

If you have any questions, please call or text us at 604-363-2760 or email us at We look forward to serving you.

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