Armoring is a synonym for shielding, covering, guarding, and protecting. When we think of “armor”, probably the first thing that comes to our minds is bullet-proof vests and armored vehicles, but there are more objects that can be equipped with armor.
Amongst the different types of armor, like body and vehicle armor, there is also architectural armor, which includes protection for houses and buildings. Its aim is to preserve material things as well as people from homicides, kidnapping, attacks, robberies, and many other crimes.
According to Mexico’s National Board of Armor Industry (CNIB, from its Spanish initials), in 2019 there was a 20% rise, compared to previous years, of the demand of architectural armor in that country (1).
Besides, as stated by the CNIB, the interest in protecting the houses and the workspaces has grown (2) because of the perception that many of the crime victims are innocent civilians like it happens with stray bullets.
As a matter of fact, in nine Mexican states, shootings are among the top 5 positions of criminal and antisocial attitudes, as perceived by the population (3).
In Tamaulipas it holds the 2nd position, in Morelos, Puebla, Veracruz, and Zacatecas, it holds the 3rd one, while in Quintana Roo, San Luis Potosí, Sinaloa and Tlaxcala shootings hold the 5th position.
In this context, let’s dig into the architectural armor. What is it? How does it work? Where is it applied? From where did it come? Which are the norms and from which calibers does it protect? All you need to know when deciding to acquire an armor service.
What is architectural armor?
In general terms, architectural armor is the reinforcement applied to any architectural structure, such as doors, ceilings, walls, beams, facades, industrial and residential floorings, against projectiles impact (4). This includes the design, construction, or modification of the mentioned elements, especially when talking about finished buildings.
This reinforcing will depend on its use and environment, but always keeping in mind that it will guard valuable equipment and people who work or live inside the facility.
The armor protects buildings and houses against projectiles and explosions, in order to lessen the caused damage.
Architectural armor applications
Architectural armor can be applied to windows, walls, floors, these last two through the armor concrete. It doesn’t matter if it’s for private residencies, institutions, public or commercial facilities.
It is commonly used in offices, shops, houses, government facilities, embassies, banks, jails, courts, military, and police facilities, although it can be applied practically to any space that requires this protection.
Architectural armor materials
Materials are chosen according to the required protection level, calculated by the projected threats, and the installation method. The most used elements are ballistic steel, unidirectional polyethylene, Kevlar, bulletproof glass, and polycarbonate (PC) (4).
According to their appearance, they can be classified asde opaque (ballistic steel, aramid fiber, polyethylene, fiberglass) or transparent (ballistic glass with or without PC, and ballistic polycarbonate) (5).
The armor can also be made of superimposed layers of sheets made of cement mortar, steel, wood, or mixed materials, in the case of walls, but of course, there are also steel door frames. Sheets can be made of braided steel, ballast, or even electric wiring, depending on the specifications.
There are other layers such as the ones made of elastic, refractory, or pozzolanic materials, with metal rods or carbon fiber (6).
All this variety exists because the armor will depend on the required security, quality, and durability. That’s why in PSI we recommend verifying the certifications and ballistics testing of your provider to be sure they have what you need. If you’re having trouble with all this, give us a call.
Consider also the thickness each company offers and the installation methods they have. Keep in mind that if the thickness is not necessarily correlated to the impact resistance, meaning the bullets calibers and quantity, or to the installation method (6).
It is also important to consider light materials for already finished buildings, otherwise, it will be necessary to reinforce all the construction in order to hold all the weight of the armor. For example, in windows, the usual light materials are polyurethane, ethylene-vinyl acetate (PEVA), also known as poly, or thermoplastic materials such as PC (7).
To determine the materials and installation methods with finished buildings, we recommend specifying the risk level, the facility location, the doors and windows size, as well as the type of flooring, if there are panic rooms and if there is an existing coating. (5). This will help when assessing your construction needs.
In PSI, we work with nanotechnology and predosed additives for ready-mix concrete, which guarantees the armor in walls and ceilings. This allows the creation of secured places at a very reasonable price. Get your quote now, contact us and we’ll assist you.
Architectural armor context
In PSI we identify three important moments in history for architectural armor, in general, and armor concrete, in particular:
1. La segunda guerra mundial, donde se realizaron pruebas en edificios dentro de una zona restringida en Alemania. El arquitecto nazi, Albert Speer, estuvo a cargo del proyecto que probó la resistencia de torres de hormigón y barras de acero ante proyectiles de distintos calibres, incluyendo bombas, granadas y cohetes.
2. Los ataques del 11 de septiembre de 2001 en Estados Unidos, específicamente en el Pentágono. Este hecho sentó el precedente para la investigación sobre el concreto blindado. A raíz de la agresión murieron 189 personas, por lo que se reformuló la creación de mampostería con vigas de acero y kevlar.
3. La guerra contra las drogas en México, específicamente en 2006, cuando se declaró esta situación en el país y se incrementó la violencia. Desde entonces se ha hecho investigación científica con experimentaciones basadas en incidentes explosivos, relacionados con los llamados “concretos de alto rendimiento”.
These aren’t, of course, the only events involving architectural armor. For example, in the early 90s in Colombia, the attacks on government facilities ordered by the well-known drug lord Pablo Escobar increased the demand for armored products. (8).
In Mexico, around 1993, there was a boom of this market, as armored goods were acquired for Mexican Marine and Army facilities. At that time, 95 % of the clients came from the public sector and rich companies (9).
The current demand in Mexico comes from civil society (85-90 %), which means that more people are acquiring the products for their private use (9).
Already in 2017 and 2018, it was clear that there was an increasing trend among the private sector (85% of the sales) (5).
In 2017, Arizona company DarkePulse Technologies suggested the US-Mexico border wall to be bullet- and explosion-proof to avoid sabotages and even submachine gun attacks. Besides, the company recommended it to have a slippery coating and sensors to stop people from climbing it or dig a tunnel underneath. (10).
Another example of architectural armor are the high-security facilities windows, like in Washington D.C. and other capital cities, designed to resist the impact of rifle shootings. Of course, the building and armor standards are higher than any other building, or even banks, resisting even explosions (7).
Safe rooms, another architectural example, can be pretty expensive, a 9x9 meters area, with a level 3 armor, costs around 45 thousand dollars (8).
According to Proceso magazine, in Mexico City and the metropolitan area, you can find houses with level 4 armor, that stop AK-47 bullets while in other states, like Tamaulipas, Veracruz, and Guanajuato, level 7 is founded, effective against AR-15 bullets (8).
So, is architectural armor legal? In Mexico, it’s considered part of goods and services private security, and there are international regulations that specify calibers and guide ballistics tests. This kind of security is auxiliary to public security tasks, such as surveillance, protection, and custody (11).
Architectural armor: standards and calibers
There are different protection levels that depend on the authority, standards, and countries that certify them. They concern the fire gun and explosives involved. This is just a brief introduction to this matter considering that it’s necessary to mention some data.
Si quieres saber más sobre los tipos de blindaje, te recomendamos leer:
“Niveles de blindaje y sus características”.
Something to consider seriously is explosives. Explosions are far more dangerous than bullets because of the glass and debris blow away and they become deadly weapons as each element is then a projectile.
There is even reinforced armor to prevent damage caused by natural disasters, such as hurricanes, available in the US (7). As you see, there are different threats, and knowing about them comes in handy when determining the risk level in order to find the best professional solution.
There are a number of standards involving fire gun calibers and effective protection levels. Here is one of them, the UL-752.
This standard comprises 10 protection levels and a supplementary one called shotgun, including common and organized crime attacks, levels 1-3 are effective against handguns, from then on armor is designed to include long guns too (12):
• Nivel 1. Protege de hasta tres disparos por un arma 9 mm FMJ con núcleo de plomo.
• Nivel 2. Resiste hasta tres disparos por Magnum .357 e inferiores.
• Nivel 3. Efectivo hasta tres disparos por balas Magnum .44 y menores.
• Nivel 4. Resiste disparos de un calibre .30 de rifle FMJ con núcleo de plomo.
• Nivel 5. Protege contra .762 mm, de rifle FMJ.
• Nivel 6. Efectivo hasta los cinco disparos de una 9 mm FMJ con núcleo de plomo.
• Nivel 7. Resiste hasta cinco disparos de un rifle 5.56 mm FMJ.
• Nivel 8. Protege de hasta cinco disparos de un rifle 7.62 mm FMJ, con núcleo de plomo.
• Nivel 9. Protege contra calibre .30 a .06, de rifle con núcleo de plomo FMCJ.
• Nivel 10. Protege contra disparos de calibre .50 en rifle, núcleo de plomo, FMCJ y militar.
• Escopeta. Resiste hasta 3 disparos de un rifle calibre 12.
US National Institute of Justice
There are other standards, of course, international and local. Other well-known standards come from the US National Institute of Justice (NIJ). Standards also determine different types of bullets, for example (13):
1. Punta full-metal jacket. Tiene un poder de penetración con baja deformación, por lo que atraviesa paredes, sin causar grandes daños.
2. Punta semiblanda.La punta de esta bala expansiva está compuesta de plomo. Está diseñada para expandirse al golpear el objetivo, con la intención de causar un diámetro de daño mayor que el de la bala. Abreviada como JSP, por sus siglas en inglés.
3. Punta hueca. Este tipo de bala expansiva se utiliza para una mayor precisión debido a que tiene la punta abierta más grande que la bala. Abreviada como JHP, por sus siglas en inglés.
4. Punta perforante antiblindaje. Está compuesto de acero endurecido, tungsteno o uranio. Conlleva cargas incendiarias y explosivas, en algunas ocasiones, y va a una velocidad rápida. Con el calor que porta consigue derretir el acero balístico, pero no pasa lo mismo con los más altos niveles de blindaje.
Bullet speed is an essential topic for armor. For example, the well-known AK-47 shoots at an average speed of 2350 fps (9). These numbers are the base to calculate different aspects of armored facilities.
Besides these standards, there are others, such as the DIN 52290 International Standard, that considers five levels according to calibers, or the European EN1063 Ballistic Standard. One of the most representative Mexican institutions is the aforementioned National Board of Armor Industry (CNIB), which comprises 12 companies of military armor, body armor, armored aircraft, and architectural armor.
In PSI, we’ve followed all the regulations and we’re committed to high-quality standards form armor concrete which allowed us to get diverse certifications. If you have any doubt concerning this topic, please feel free to e-mail us and we’ll gladly assist you.
Architectural armor has been a main security topic in the last decades. Due to violence issues, protection culture is still a priority for the population in general and has allowed armor topics to remain important, keeping alive this market.
So, it’s essential to keep posted about the requirements and benefits that armored concrete brings to different businesses, strategical facilities, government, and individuals when preserving human life and important equipment.
In Mexico, PSI has developed Blindacret, the perfect solution for your security concerns. Blindacret is an armored concrete that competes with global powers products from Austria, the United States, Japan, Russia, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Step up and don’t just buy concrete, buy Blindacret.
 Manrique Gandaria. Ante inseguridad, cierra 2019 con más demanda de blindaje (in Spanish) El Sol, 2019. Accessed 1 Apr. 2020.
 Alberto Gámez. Industria del blindaje crece por la inseguridad (in Spanish) El Universal, 2019. Accessed 1 Apr. 2020
 Inegi. Encuesta Nacional de Victimización y Percepción sobre Seguridad Pública (ENVIPE) (in Spanish). Inegi, 2019. Accessed 30 Mar. 2020.
 AIB. Blindaje arquitectónico (in Spanish). Asociación Intercontinental de Blindadores (AIB), n.d. Accessed 30 Mar. 2020.
 Vector. Se prevé un incremento de hasta 40% de adquisición de algún inmueble blindado (in Spanish). Vector, 2019. Accessed 31 Mar. 2020.
 Carlos Fradera. Muro blindado y procedimiento de fabricación correspondiente (in Spanish). Patent Service, 2011. Accessed 1 Apr. 2020.
 BBC. Los vidrios antibalas no existen (in Spanish). BBC, 2011. Accessed 1 Apr. 2020.
 Patricia Dávila. El boom del blindaje arquitectónico (in Spanish). Proceso, 2020. Accessed 31 Mar. 2020.
 Proceso. El boom del blindaje arquitectónico particular (in Spanish). Revista Proceso, 2020. Accessed 31 Mar. 2020.
 El Universal. Llueven propuestas para muro; incluso, que sea atracción turística (in Spanish). El Universal, 2017. Accessed 30 Mar. 2020.
 Cámara de Diputados. Ley Federal de Seguridad Privada (in Spanish). Cámara de Diputados, última reforma en 2011. Accessed 30 Mar. 2020.
 NSI. Ballistic Charts. Nationwide Structures Inc, s/f. Consultado el 13 de mayo de 2020.