What are Impact Windows?

In a nutshell, impact windows provide your home with a great line of defense against hurricane force winds.

And, that’s just for starters.

Impact windows are extremely energy efficient. They protect your home’s interior from UV rays, and intruders, by the way! Not to mention, outside distractions are a thing of the past.

I’m getting ahead of myself, though. Let’s back up a bit.

Cause and effect

The words “Florida” and “hurricane” go hand in hand.

In fact, after Hurricane Andrew ripped through Florida leaving a path of destruction in its wake, Miami-Dade was the first to push for a change in building codes requiring all new construction to include using hurricane resistant building materials.

All of Florida got behind that proposal.

Way to go, Florida!

The new regulations went into affect on March 1, 2002. Since that time, every state from Texas up the entire east coast has implemented building code changes that include using hurricane resistant materials. Not all of them are mandatory. In fact, Louisiana and Florida are the only states that enforce the use of hurricane resistant materials in all new residential and commercial construction.

As a result, window manufacturers began to seek ways to reinforce windows from framing to glass.

No stopping now

Auto manufacturers have long used safety glass in our automobiles. A thin layer of polyvinyl butyral (PVB) is layered between two or more sheets of glass. The PVB layer is flexible and holds the glass in place if it breaks. This greatly reduces the chance of injury due to flying glass. The reinforcement also makes it very hard to penetrate if hit.

The tempered glass, itself, has been strengthened using either a thermal or chemical process. Not only that, it is heated and rapidly cooled to be heated again several times. The rapid cooling process actually changes the way the glass breaks. Rather than shattering upon impact it breaks into thousands of pebble-like pieces. Glass shards are non-existent.

Window makers quickly adopted the same concept with great success. They went a step above laminated windows though.

Speaking of impact

No matter if the frame is aluminum, wood, or vinyl, it is beefed up to meet the requirements that rate the window unit as impact resistant.

To construct the window itself two panels of tempered glass adhere on either side of a sheet of high tech polymer. The reinforcement from the polymer sheet had a dramatic affect on window strength. Testing guidelines vary from state-to-state. The Miami-Dade County hurricane impact test is considered the end all, be all, though.

Again, way to go, Florida!

Also, how a window unit withstands the testing process is dependent on the rating it receives. You might want to do your homework if considering replacement windows or are in the process of starting construction.

Large missile test

The missile is a 6-foot, 9-pound 2×4. It’s shot out of a cannon aimed directly at the window. The projection force equals 50 feet per second. It strikes the window with blunt end force. It may crack or even shatter, but the test requires it remain completely intact.

This is a window we’re talking about.


Small missile test

Once the large missile test is completed, the unit is sent on to the next. The small missile test consists of hurling steel ball bearings or gravel of the same size simultaneously. They hurtle toward the window covering 80 feet per second!

Again, wow!

The elements tests

After proving itself through the large and small missile tests, a high wind test is next on the list. The window must sustain varying degrees of pressure during cyclonic wind conditions.

Lastly, the windows must withstand wind driven rain conditions.

Big thumbs up

If the entire window unit, including the glazing, remains intact after test completion, it earns an impact resistant window rating.

The ratings vary due to overall performance, so again, do your homework. Some windows are not compliant in certain areas.

A force to reckon with

Our home is our refuge.

Not just when we are weathering a storm, either. We think of our home as the number one safe spot. A place where your family feels safe and secure all the time. No matter what the world is throwing around out there.

The thought of home invasion strikes terror in the heart.

Maybe not so much anymore. Home security systems are awesome! However, if someone is intent on entry, let’s face it, it takes the police some time to get there.

Impact windows are a huge deterrent for intruders. Windows are an easy point of entry. Smash it and you’re in! Imagine an intruder trying to break through an impact resistant window. One felled attempt is likely to send them packing in a hurry.

Help yourself to our stuff?

We don’t think so.

A sound choice

Impact windows not only protect your home, they are easy on the ears. The added reinforcement also acts as a noise buffer. It greatly reduces the amount of street sounds that make their way into your home.

Let the builders build, the mowers mow, and the children play!

You are free to nap, work, or relax without distraction.

No shades needed

We often close our shades or drapes to prevent the sun’s intrusive ultraviolet rays from penetrating our homes. There’s nothing worse than the realization that your sofa or carpet are now two distinct shades. Both, the original and the not-so-trendy slow fade shade.

That, too, becomes a thing of the past when you install impact windows. The layered glass coupled with the reinforced sheeting blocks UV rays and let’s the sun shine in.

That’s a win-win combination!

Playing it safe

It’s worth repeating that impact windows are a strong line of defense against strong winds. Whether you live in hurricane alley or on the coast, they provide increased chances that you and your family will ride out the storm safely.

They aren’t indestructible, but they come pretty close! There is really no comparison to be made between normal and impact windows.

They take the prize, hands down.

152 replies on “What are Impact Windows?”

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