Security grilles offer an outstanding additional tier of protection to your home or business premises against break-in and theft. However, it’s worth bearing in mind several considerations when you are deciding whether it’s worth installing them, and which type to opt for. Internal retractable grilles can be fitted behind your windows and French doors, and are far more discreet than the heavy external security shutters typically used on shops and other commercial properties. They are an effective way to stop intruders from breaking glass and reaching in to open windows and doors, or simply climbing through. However, although they are extremely tough and rated to withstand all but the most determined and well-equipped intruders, they are not a panacea.
1. Safety concerns
Retractable grilles are generally mounted within a frame that is fitted around the inside of your doors and windows. They are quick and easy to slide closed, and lock at several different points using a single key. These grilles are essentially a galvanised steel lattice which extends and folds back, as required. Because they are designed this way, they can be locked closed even when the windows themselves are open to allow proper ventilation, and they let the light in well. However, for fire safety reasons it’s best to leave open any ground-floor grilles when you are in the house – and ensure that any first-floor windows that lead to a fire escape are also accessible. Whether or not you are in the house, locked grilles will also slow down fire crews and other emergency services in the event of a serious incident. Keep keys close to the grilles – though ideally out of sight and out of reach through the latticework – so that you are not trapped if you need to leave in a hurry.
2. Further security measures
Retractable grilles are a robust but unobtrusive way of protecting your property. From a distance they should not be visible at all, and inside the building they can be folded away and hidden behind curtains and pelmets. When extended, though, they will be obvious to anyone who looks in through your windows. Most theft is opportunistic, and so the majority of thieves will simply leave at this point and look for an easier target. However, the grilles do serve as an indication to thieves that you have property worth protecting. They may decide it is worth their while to look for another way in or to come back another time and hope that you have left the grilles open. For this reason, security grilles should always be used in conjunction with other measures, such as CCTV cameras and intruder alarms. And, of course, there is no substitute for vigilance and good practice. Don’t leave valuables on display if you can avoid it, and don’t leave open windows unattended for even a short time – that’s all an opportunistic thief will need.
3. Planning permission
Installing internal security grilles is usually a fairly simple job and can be carried out by anyone with reasonable DIY skills. The suppliers will also be able to do this for you, or to provide you with the name of professional, certified fitters. (This may be important for insurance purposes.) In some instances, though, such as if you occupy a listed building, you may need to gain planning permission before you fit your grilles. This is more likely to be the case for external shutters, which may need planning permission regardless of the status of the building because they are plainly visible and change the character of the property.
4. Damage to your property
External security grilles typically roll down to cover the entire window or doorway. These are designed for situations where premises need a high degree of protection and visual deterrence, and there are no aesthetic considerations (such as on store fronts after closing). At home, they are more suited to use on garages. For domestic application, internal grilles are preferable: they are more discreet and even when extended and fixed in place can be comparatively attractive. However, internal grilles won’t protect your windows from being broken. It is still difficult for thieves to gain access to the property, especially since they will have to work at the grille fittings through broken glass. But if prevention of vandalism is a key aim, you may be better off installing external grilles that completely cover the window aperture. Because these are made from a set of linked metal laths they prevent anyone from even seeing through your windows, let alone damaging them. A related concern is fire: if you are concerned about arson, external grilles are the better option.
For most home applications, retractable internal security grilles provide an effective and economic way to protect your property. They are far more attractive than heavy external shutters, which block out the light as well as being visually unappealing. Nevertheless, they are not suitable for every application. If you are in doubt, discuss your needs with the provider or another security professional.