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The Best Ways to Burglar-Proof Your Windows: All-In-One Guide

Last Updated on

by | Security Hacks

Windows are usually weak points regarding security. While it’s true that most burglars get into a house through the front door (source), you want to make sure there are no loopholes and take window security seriously. The truth is, if you really want to make your home burglar-proof, you won’t go too far without securing your windows.

Burglars always look for easy targets. If you don’t secure your windows, criminals won’t even touch your door, instead, they will break into your home through a window that you didn’t reinforce.

Fortunately, you don’t have to spend a bunch of money if you want to prevent break-ins through your windows.

Without further ado, here are some highly effective ways to burglar-proof windows:

  1. Use security window film
  2. Install a durable window lock
  3. Use window security grilles to prevent break-ins through your window
  4. Get a window alarm and a motion detector
  5. Switch to reinforced glass
  6. Use window security screen
  7. Install motion sensor lights and a (dummy) security camera
  8. Plant thorny bushes under the window

Let’s move on to the details:

1. Install a Reliable Window Lock

You can reinforce your windows in many ways but you won’t get too far without a good lock. It may sound obvious, but there’s no window security without a solid locking system.

I recommend you start securing your windows by installing a reliable lock as a first step. Below you’ll find the best options.

Vinyl Window Security Lock

Using vinyl window locks (this is a popular one on Amazon) is an effective and inexpensive solution to secure your sliding windows (both horizontal and vertical sliding). You can easily install them without any tool within seconds and they’re easily removable whenever you need to fully open your windows (when installed, they will only allow you to open the window for ventilation).

In the case of double-hung windows, it’s recommended installing two vinyl locks on the window frame (on both sides of the window you want to secure). Thanks to the adjustable jaw, it fits most window frame rails. You just have to put it in the frame’s groove and tighten it down.

Sash Jammer

Sash jammers are simple and inexpensive devices that prevent forced entries through windows that open either inwards or outwards.

Usually, you have to install them on the window jamb and rotate the arm to a locking position when you want to secure your windows. In the case of an outward opening window, the sash jammer should be mounted on the sash.

Sash jammers usually provide enough resistance to prevent criminals from opening your windows from the outside. They’re great security additions and will help you to burglar-proof your windows. Make sure you choose a model that’s made of durable metal, plastic ones are crappy.

Pin Lock

Pin locks are pretty popular nowadays. They’re a reasonable choice to improve security on double-hung windows. Installing is quite simple and usually takes only a few minutes.

The pin goes through a hole that you have to drill into both sashes to prevent sliding of the window.

Before buying don’t forget to measure the thickness of the sashes and double check the length of the pin. I’m not a big fan of pin locks, because though they’re effective, I prefer not to drill holes into the sashes but if you don’t mind doing so, check out this model on Amazon.

Keyed Lock

There are keyed locks available for both sliding and double-hung windows. They’re reliable security additions, however, if you don’t want to use a key to unlock (and lock) a window, this solution may not be the most suitable for you.

In the case of a sliding window, you usually don’t have to make any permanent changes to install a keyed lock, you can fasten it without having to drill any hole.

Keyed locks for double-hung windows usually have to be fastened with screws to the window frame.

If you decide to install a keyed lock, it’s important to make sure that all the family members know exactly where they can find the key in case of an emergency.

Dowel

Using a dowel is probably the cheapest, yet effective solution out there to secure a sliding window. Dowels can be made of metal, plastic or wood. Usually, a wood dowel is your best bet to burglar-proof your window. It’s inexpensive and its length can be adjusted easily.

This is how it works: first, cut the dowel to size so that it fits between the window jamb and the sash, then place it on the track to prevent the window from sliding.

That’s all you have to do. It’s a really simple and affordable solution to keep intruders outside.

Hinged Wedge Lock

It’s another inexpensive solution. A hinged wedge lock installed on a double-hung window will prevent the lower sash from being lifted. The lock has to be mounted on the upper sash and it can be deactivated by simply swinging the wedge part away. Then you can fully open the window.

Keep in mind that some hinged wedge locks available at stores are poor quality and will break easily when applying some force on them. Therefore, if you really want to improve window security, make sure you buy a good-quality wedge lock and try to avoid flimsy ones.

This one from Amazon is pretty sturdy (it’s made of steel).

Did you know that it’s often easier to break into a house through a sliding door than a window? If you have a sliding door, you should definitely secure it. We have an article on the most effective ways you can improve sliding patio door security here.

2. Use Security Window Film to Burglar-Proof Your Windows Without Bars

While it’s true that most burglars prefer not to break the window glass to get into the house, sometimes they do it. So if you take window security seriously, you can’t rely solely on locks.

Reinforcing your windows with security bars seems to be an obvious solution, but what if you find them unsightly or worry about fire safety? In that case, window film can be one of your best choices.

How does window security film work?

In brief, it prevents the glass from shattering and keep it in place. It’s pretty hard for crooks to smash the window glass if there’s a strong and good quality security film installed.

It can protect the glass even against relatively powerful attacks.

There are many models on the market, and not all of them are the same quality. As usual, the price goes up with the level of protection. Choose according to your needs. Often, all you need is to make your windows harder to penetrate than average and most burglars will simply give up and look for an easier target.

Here’s a short demonstration that shows how windows protected by security film can prevent break-ins:

You should know that though security films will effectively deter or delay break-ins, no security film will completely protect your windows from all kind of attacks. Any security system can be broken by using the right tools for the right amount of time.

Window security films may not seem to offer strong protection at first sight but a large portion of the burglaries can be prevented by using them in combination with a reliable locking system. I recommend you have a look at 3M products, they’re pretty reliable.

3. Switch to Reinforced Glass

Another way to burglar-proof your windows without using bars is to replace the standard glass pane with a more durable one. If you’re on a budget, it may not be the best option for you as it’s definitely not the cheapest option out there.

So what are the most popular solutions if you decide on replacing your old window glass pane to a more secure one?

Tempered glass (a type of safety glass) is four times stronger (source) than traditional glass and therefore it’s somewhat harder to break. However, it’s still not a big deal to smash it.

Another of its feature is that when it breaks it shatters into small granular pieces. This reduces the risk of an injury that’s why vehicle windows are typically made of tempered glass.

We can assume that tempered glass won’t stop most burglars. Even at best it will delay the entry.

Laminated glass is another type of safety glass you can use to secure your windows. It consists of mixed layers of glass and vinyl that hold the glass together and prevent shattering.

Comparing to tempered glass, laminated glass will give you better protection against criminals. It’s very hard and time-consuming to break through or cut (especially if it’s thick enough) and even the most enthusiastic burglars will be very likely to give up sooner or later.

One major disadvantage of laminated glass is its price that goes up with thickness and durability.

Watch the video below to see the difference between the different types of glasses:

4. Install Window Security Bars or Grilles: a Proven Method to Secure Your Windows

Window grille

Installing window security bars and grilles are, without doubt, one of the most effective ways you can burglar-proof your windows. However, many people have ambivalent feelings towards them. They’re often unsightly and many non-egress fixed models raise fire safety concerns.

If you think security window bars are ugly, I have to agree with you. However, not all of them are created equal: you can choose from plenty of models, and there are many that are pretty decorative. You can also have a totally custom one made (of course, that would be a more expensive choice) according to your own taste.

Keep in mind that windows with non-egress security bars can’t be used in case of emergency so you always want to make sure there are alternative escape routes.

If this is a concern for you, opt for a window security bar that’s equipped with a fire safety release pin. That allows you to quickly swing the bar out of the way in case of emergency.

Windows with a fixed bar can also be used as an emergency exit with the help of a quick release kit. It converts a stationary bar into a pivoting unit that you can release fast and easily from the inside simply by kicking the foot pedal.

Note that not all window security bars will give you the same protection against burglars: quality materials and careful installation can significantly increase the level of security they provide.

5. Use Window Security Screen

Window security screen

Security screens are way less obtrusive than security bars and still provide real protection against intruders (and natural disasters as well).

At first glance, a security screen may look similar to a mosquito net, but at a closer look, the differences become obvious. Security screens are usually made of stainless steel and can withstand many kinds of attacks, even heavy ones.

Here’s a video that shows the sturdiness of a properly installed security screen:

I recommend that you choose a model that has an exit latch on the inside so that you can continue to use the window as an escape route in an emergency.

You can install security screens yourself but if you want a professional to make the installation instead of you, or need a custom made security screen you’ll find many companies on the market that will do the job for you.

Window security screens are reliable alternatives to window bars and security films.

They not only make your windows much more secure but they also serve as effective visual deterrents. Burglars often don’t even try to break through a window with a security screen, instead, they look for another, easier target.

6. Install Real or Dummy Security Cameras

Security camera

Installing security cameras close to your windows will help you to deter burglars. Crooks don’t like to work under surveillance so they’ll either try to disable the cameras or choose another target (this one is more probable).

Wide or ultra-wide angle cameras with night vision are pretty effective deterrents because most crooks will recognize them from far away and know that they shouldn’t approach your house or they’ll be recorded.

Don’t be naive though, a few of them will simply cover their face and try to break through one of the windows.

That’s why you should never use a security camera as the only protection against criminals. You can get the most of it if you use it in combination with other security measures.

If your only goal is deterrence, you can buy inexpensive dummy security cameras that most often will do the job for you perfectly. However, make sure you don’t choose a very popular model because burglars may recognize it and know that you’re using a fake camera.

As an alternative, you can check out Ring’s home security system that offers great value for the money: besides protecting against burglars, it also helps you protect your home from fires and water damage.

Again: installing a security camera in itself will only help you to prevent break-ins but obviously it does not improve window security. That’s why I suggest applying it only as an additional measure.

If you want to know what are the most effective methods to deter burglars (with some great tips for those who are on a tight budget), don’t forget to check out our article here.

7. Install a Reliable Window Alarm and Motion Detector

Window alarms come in many shapes and forms. Most of them are affordable and offer an easy way to improve window security.

The most common and popular window alarms are magnetic ones (also called window security sensors). They’re battery powered and consist of two parts: a sensor and a magnet. When someone opens the window, the units are getting further from each other and that will trigger the alarm. It’s usually pretty loud, so it has the potential to deter burglars, especially if it hits them unexpectedly.

This model from Amazon is a pretty good value for the money. If you need a more feature-rich solution, check out this window sensor from Ring (it only works with a Ring base station!).

Glass breaking sensors are useful additions to magnetic window sensors. They’re triggered by the sound of glass breaking and will alarm even if the window itself remains closed (but with broken glass).

If you want to make sure burglars can’t invade your home without being detected, besides window sensors you may want to add motion detectors too.

A motion detector will capture the intruder after entering your home, so it won’t prevent the intrusion but it will alarm right after it happened.

One major disadvantage of most motion detectors is the relatively high rates of false positives.

Personally, I wouldn’t rely solely on window alarms and motion detectors but I think they can be really useful additions and can serve as an effective second-line protection.

8. Install Motion Sensor Lights

While it’s true that more burglaries happen during the daytime than at night (source), you want to make sure criminals steer clear of your home 24 hours a day.

As I’ve mentioned earlier, burglars always try to avoid being in plain sight. That’s why installing a motion sensor light can help a lot to deter them.

Motion sensor lights come in many forms and at many prices, however, most of them are fairly affordable. Battery and solar powered ones are the easiest to install because they require no wiring, all you have to do is mount them on the wall.

I recommend you check out this affordable model on Amazon.

Lights with higher performance usually need some wiring, so if you don’t like DIY you may need an electrician for the installation. However, if your only goal is to deter crooks, a wired motion sensor light is not required, you’ll be just fine with a battery or solar powered one.

If you have a pet that you keep outside of the house, make sure you choose a model with adjustable sensitivity. It will allow you to set the sensor to detect only humans and exclude pets. Water resistance is a must.

Regarding installation, it’s best practice to mount the light at least 10 feet high to prevent burglars from disabling it easily.

Note that motion sensor lights work best in medium to high traffic areas or when the burglars don’t know if you’re at home. Active neighbors are also an advantage.

In other cases (when the light will be noticed by no one but the burglar), there’s such a low chance of being caught that most intruders won’t bother much about lights.

9. Plant Thorny Bushes Under and Around Your Windows

Thorny bushes around the window

You can make burglars’ life so much harder by planting some thorny bushes under your windows. If you make it difficult for crooks to approach your windows, they are more likely to leave and choose another target.

Of course, it’s not the ultimate method to secure your windows but if you want some green around your home, plants with thorns are the most practical choice. On the other hand, you want to avoid having big bushes (without thorns) and extensive vegetation around your house, because they can serve as great hiding places for burglars.

How to Secure an Open Window?

Sometimes you may want to open your windows without worrying about who will enter through them if you leave the room. Or you may want to leave the bedroom window open at night in summer to enjoy the fresh air.

In this case, setting up an alarm is ineffective because crooks can drag some valuable items and run away in a matter of seconds. It’s even worse if they stay and you find yourself face to face with them.

So if you want to secure your windows while they’re open, you’ll definitely need a reliable physical barrier. I recommend installing either window bars or window security screens. Bars usually give you a higher level of protection than security screens but they’re both very effective against burglars.

More Tips to Improve Window Security

  • Do not use wire glass as an alternative to laminated or tempered glass: wire glass won’t make your windows more burglar-proof. While it’s true that it’s more resistant to thermal shock than standard glass (so it’s a reasonable choice when fire safety is a concern), it’s susceptible to force attacks. Moreover, the exposed sharp wires can cause severe injuries when someone accidentally breaks the glass through. (source)
  • By improving perimeter security, gaining access to your windows will be more difficult for burglars thus they’re more likely to choose another target.
  • Keeping a dog (especially if it’s a guard dog) is one of the most effective ways to secure your home. Obviously, you won’t keep a dog just to deter burglars. Sometimes pretending that you have a dog is more than enough to discourage crooks. Use warning stickers, buy a large bowl and a muzzle and leave them in a clearly visible place in the yard close to a window.
  • Join a local neighborhood watch group. They’re formed by local citizens who know the neighborhood well and often notice when there’s something suspicious going on. They’re pretty effective in deterring criminals (more info here).

Make sure you also read our guide on how you can secure a door from being kicked in. Living in an apartment? Don’t miss our guide on the best ways to boost apartment door security.

Putting It All Together

As you can see, you have many options when it comes to securing your windows.

Some methods are better for deterrence (like security cameras, motion sensor lights, window alarms) while others help you to reinforce your windows and make it considerably harder for burglars to break through them (like security bars, screens, and films, window locks, and reinforced glass panes).

If you want to burglar-proof your windows, I recommend that besides reinforcing them also use some burglar deterrents. Combinations will give you the best results.

Don’t forget that securing your windows is not enough to prevent break-ins. You must secure your door as well because crooks can easily get through a door without any protection.

Fortunately, you can reinforce your front door pretty easily, even if you’re on a budget. We have a comprehensive article about the best methods here. Make sure you check it out!

Photos: Flickr

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James Mora is the founder of DailyHomeSafety. He is an avid DIYer, former healthcare professional and security manager. He is passionate about home improvement and teaching.