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What is an impact window? Pros & cons? Are they worth it?

What is an impact window? What is the difference between regular windows and impact windows? Pros & cons? Are they worth it? Click for more

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Homeowners in hurricane-prone areas often invest in robust windows to enhance the safety of their homes. Taking such measures, along with other precautions, significantly contributes to safeguarding their families and properties.

Despite recognizing the need for stronger windows, homeowners often find themselves puzzled when deciding between impact windows and storm windows. In this post, we’ll simplify these distinctions to assist you in making an informed choice when purchasing your new windows.

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What is an impact window?

Impact windows, also known as hurricane windows or storm windows, are specially designed windows that are built to withstand strong winds and flying debris during severe weather events like hurricanes or tropical storms. These windows are constructed with laminated glass, which consists of two layers of glass bonded together with a layer of clear plastic. This design helps prevent the glass from shattering upon impact.

Impact windows provide several benefits, including increased safety during storms, protection against break-ins, and improved energy efficiency. The laminated glass also helps reduce outside noise and blocks harmful UV rays. Overall, impact windows are a durable and resilient choice for homes in regions prone to hurricanes or other extreme weather conditions.

What is the difference between regular windows and impact windows?

The main difference between regular windows and impact windows lies in their construction and ability to withstand external forces, particularly during severe weather conditions. Here are some key distinctions:

  1. Glass Composition:
    • Regular Windows: Typically use standard glass, which can shatter upon impact.
    • Impact Windows: Are constructed with laminated glass, consisting of two layers of glass bonded with a layer of clear plastic (usually polyvinyl butyral or PVB). This design prevents the glass from shattering, even when struck.
  2. Resistance to Impact:
    • Regular Windows: Can break upon impact, posing a safety hazard and allowing wind and water to enter the building.
    • Impact Windows: Are designed to withstand high-velocity impacts from debris during hurricanes or storms, providing increased safety and protection.
  3. Hurricane Code Compliance:
    • Regular Windows: Might not meet the stringent building codes required in hurricane-prone areas.
    • Impact Windows: Are specifically designed and tested to meet or exceed building codes in regions prone to hurricanes and severe weather.
  4. Security:
    • Regular Windows: Are more susceptible to break-ins and forced entry.
    • Impact Windows: Offer improved security due to their shatter-resistant design, making it difficult for intruders to gain access.
  5. Noise Reduction and UV Protection:
    • Regular Windows: Provide standard levels of noise reduction and UV protection.
    • Impact Windows: Often offer enhanced noise reduction and block harmful UV rays, providing additional benefits beyond storm protection.
  6. Energy Efficiency:
    • Regular Windows: May have standard energy efficiency features.
    • Impact Windows: Can contribute to improved energy efficiency by reducing air infiltration and providing better insulation.

While impact windows may initially cost more than regular windows, their added benefits in terms of safety, security, and energy efficiency make them a valuable investment, especially in areas prone to hurricanes and severe weather.

What are the negatives of impact windows?

While impact windows offer various benefits, it’s essential to consider some potential drawbacks:

  1. Cost: Impact windows are generally more expensive than regular windows. The initial investment can be higher, including both the cost of the windows themselves and professional installation.
  2. Installation Complexity: Installing impact windows can be more complex than installing regular windows due to their heavier and thicker construction. This may require professional installation, which adds to the overall cost.
  3. Weight: Impact windows are typically heavier than regular windows due to the laminated glass. This added weight can strain window frames and may require reinforcement or replacement of existing frames, adding to the installation complexity and cost.
  4. Aesthetic Limitations: Some homeowners may find that impact windows have fewer design options or aesthetic choices compared to regular windows. The laminated glass may limit certain decorative features.
  5. Maintenance: While impact windows are durable, they may still require maintenance over time. The interlayer in laminated glass can degrade, and if the window sustains damage, repairs may be more involved than with regular windows.
  6. Limited Breakage Visibility: While impact windows are designed not to shatter upon impact, if they do sustain damage, it might not be immediately apparent. This could lead to delayed repairs, potentially compromising the window’s protective capabilities.
  7. Heat Absorption: The additional layer in laminated glass can contribute to heat absorption, which may affect the indoor temperature. While some impact windows have coatings to mitigate this, it’s worth considering for energy efficiency.

Is it hard to break into impact windows?

Impact windows are designed to be significantly more resistant to break-ins compared to regular windows. The laminated glass used in impact windows consists of multiple layers, typically two layers of glass bonded together with a layer of clear plastic (such as polyvinyl butyral or PVB). This construction makes it difficult for intruders to break through the glass easily.

While impact windows are not completely impervious to break-ins, attempting to break the glass would require more effort and time compared to standard windows. The laminated glass tends to hold together even when shattered, making it a deterrent for burglars.

Moreover, the frames and installation methods used for impact windows are often reinforced to enhance security. The overall design and construction of impact windows contribute to their resistance against forced entry.

While no window can guarantee absolute security, impact windows provide an additional layer of protection and can be an effective deterrent against break-ins. It’s essential to follow other security measures, such as using quality locks and maintaining overall home security, in conjunction with impact windows for comprehensive protection.

Are impact windows worth the money?

The worth of impact windows depends on various factors, including your location, budget, and priorities. Here are some considerations to help you determine if impact windows are worth the investment:

  1. Geographical Location: If you live in an area prone to hurricanes, severe storms, or high winds, impact windows can be highly beneficial. They are designed to withstand strong impacts from debris during storms, providing increased safety for your home.
  2. Safety and Security: Impact windows offer enhanced security by being more resistant to break-ins. If safety and security are top priorities for you, the added protection provided by impact windows may be worth the investment.
  3. Insurance Premiums: In some cases, installing impact windows can lead to reduced insurance premiums. Insurance companies may offer discounts for homes with features that enhance resistance to storm damage, as impact windows do.
  4. Energy Efficiency: Impact windows often contribute to improved energy efficiency by reducing air infiltration and blocking harmful UV rays. If energy savings are a concern, impact windows can be a worthwhile investment over the long term.
  5. Resale Value: Homes with impact windows may have a higher resale value, especially in areas prone to severe weather. Potential buyers may see the added protection and security features as attractive selling points.
  6. Peace of Mind: The peace of mind that comes with knowing your home is better protected against storms and potential break-ins can be invaluable. If this peace of mind is important to you, impact windows might be worth the money.

However, it’s crucial to consider the upfront cost, as impact windows tend to be more expensive than regular windows. Evaluate your budget and weigh the long-term benefits against the initial investment. If you’re in an area with a high risk of hurricanes or storms, impact windows can be a wise and worthwhile investment in the safety and resilience of your home.

Final Thought

Homeowners have various options when it comes to upgrading their windows. If you live in an area susceptible to hurricanes and severe weather, impact windows with their extra features are worth considering. Even if it’s not mandatory by law to install specific windows, it’s essential to factor in the local weather risks you face annually.

On the other hand, if you only experience occasional heavy storms, storm windows might be sufficient for your needs. Like any significant home upgrade, it’s crucial to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of each window option to make an informed decision.

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