• WORKING HOURS : MON-FRI (9.00AM – 5.00PM)
  • SATURDAY (BY APPOINTMENT ONLY) SUNDAY CLOSED

Your Complete Guide to Impact Windows

Your Complete Guide to Impact Windows

It’s no secret that in Florida, we experience mother nature’s ill temper all too often. And if you’ve been on the receiving end of that anger, you’ll know that taking precautions against it can be one of the smartest moves you can make. 

Sure, you can board up your house before every potential storm, but that’s putting too much time and effort in every season to retrofit your home to suit recurring conditions. Last-minute decision making can be a dangerous situation when a storm approaches your home. 

Installing hurricane windows represents a permanent solution to the ever-present problem of dangerous weather by outfitting your house with a durable, long-lasting armor that is both stylish and strong. 

1. Why impact Windows

After the devastation of Hurricane Andrew in 1992, many building codes changed to increase homes’ capabilities for withstanding hurricanes and other violent storms. In 2002, a new statute required that buildings in hurricane-prone areas should be built to withstand 150 mph winds by installing impact-resistant doors and windows. If you live in Florida, there are specific regulations your windows must meet when constructing a new home.

 

 

 

In 2007, requirements were changed again to include elements in new constructions like shatterproof windows, stronger roofs, and more stabilized concrete pillars. Because new building codes only apply to new constructions built close to the shore, many buildings built before 1992 are still vulnerable to hurricane-level winds.

In the present day, in order to build a home with the highest level of wind and storm protection, owners have to pay exponentially more. “Many home starts have stalled because protective building material supplies are stretched and often depleted—delaying construction—and increasing the cost,” according to Ed Hudson, director of Marketing Research at the Home Innovation Research Labs.

Homeowners that can’t afford to move or build a new home that meets the current building code standards must do what they can afford to do to better protect their homes. Thankfully, there are simple and affordable solutions that offer exceptional protection.

When it comes to protecting your home, business, or family from severe weather, several options are available. Some are expensive, some ineffective, and some just plain frustrating to utilize. Two of the most common options are hurricane shutters or impact windows.

While both hurricane shutters and impact windows can prevent significant damage during a heavy storm, impact windows look great year-round and don’t require any extra steps on the day of a storm. In addition, homeowners should consider the potential safety implications of shutters, such as needing to scale a ladder, closing them in high winds, or conducting last-minute installations or repairs right before or during a dangerous storm. When it comes to preparing for inclement weather, you need a solution that won’t make your life more complicated!

To see more of a breakdown between the two, check out our article comparing both impact windows and hurricane shutters.

2. How Safe are Impact Windows?

Impact windows are a popular choice for severe storm areas because of their construction; these items were built to last!

One way that impact windows keep your property safe is with the help of shatter-resistant film. This film is applied on either side of the window panes, sealing the glass inside. This means that even if the window is struck by flying debris or subject to extreme atmospheric pressures, the glass will stay contained and in place. The glass may crack, but won’t blow into the room or cause any further damage.

 

 

Aside from impact-resistant films, some hurricane impact windows also rely on an inner membrane technology that fills the space between the window panes. This membrane is made up of a PVB layer that holds the glass together, preventing it from blowing outward. 

When combined with window film, this makes the windows nearly impervious to any kind of puncture or shattering even up to wind speeds of 200 mph, or a Category 5 hurricane. We offer more education about the materials used to construct hurricane impact windows.

The frame construction of impact windows makes them that much tougher as well. Most impact-resistant windows are constructed using aluminum, vinyl, or steel frames. These kinds of frames resist warping, weakening over time, or accumulation of rust. Steel and aluminum frames are obviously extremely tough, but they can be more expensive than vinyl.

Impact windows aren’t only convenient and thoroughly constructed, they have the testing to back up their durability. Impact windows use a DP — design pressure — rating to identify how much wind they can withstand before bending or breaking. What’s unique about DP ratings is that they aren’t just assigned based on metrics like glass thickness or window size.  Instead, a DP rating is only given after a specific model has gone through a barrage of laboratory testing.

Impact windows go through a design pressure test that will ensure the windows will be able to hold up during dangerous major storms. The test consists of three parts:

9

Air Pressure

Usually, the first test is air filtration. It is simulated to measure the pressure on the windows. Air filtration pressure alone does not affect the pressure rating of the window.

9

Water Penetration

The amount of water that the windows keep out is tested by pressure and is based on the type of window being tested. It is tested by the percentage of water pressure that is kept out.

9

Structural Testing

The glass and frame of the window are tested. A higher rating is given due to the thickness of the glass and the hardware of the frame. When higher-end and structurally sound material is used the rating is usually higher. The rating of the frame can actually increase the overall rating of the window itself.

Since Florida, especially in Fort Lauderdale and Miami, is a hotbed for severe storms and hurricanes, it has additional requirements for testing impact windows. The tests cover the typical air, water, and structural testing for rating impact resistant windows. But an additional test involves impact resistance. This test is done by firing a 2×4 piece of wood twice to see if the window successfully holds.   

When selecting an impact window, it’s important to pay attention to the DP rating. For those living in Florida and other coastal communities, it’s generally recommended to look for impact windows with a minimum of DP 50, a rating which reflects the ability to withstand most hurricane level 5 wind speeds. Learn more about how impact window testing works and the strength of impact windows in additional blog posts from Alco.

3. Additional benefits of impact Windows

In addition to superior protection from severe weather, the construction of impact windows provides several ancillary benefits for your home, business, or rental properties. 

 

 

9

Enhanced Home Security

Impact windows not only keep winds and debris out of your home, they can also help prevent home invasions. 

Impact windows are designed to take the impact and form a “spider” pattern without the threat of fracturing shards of glass flying into your home. Two layers of tempered glass (inner and outer) sandwich an inner layer of shatter-proof polyvinyl material with impact windows. That technology provides an additional barrier to break-in attempts.

Learn more about how impact windows can help deter burglars.

9

Increased Energy Efficiency

Simply put, energy-efficient impact windows can save you potentially hundreds of dollars every month by reducing heat gain in the summer and keeping heat in your home in the winter months. 

In fact, U.S. Department of Energy recommends that homeowners all across the country consider installing energy-efficient impact windows. In addition, they are considered a “green” product for the environmentally-conscious consumer. 

Traditional windows, which are highly energy inefficient, are responsible for a quarter to a third of the average homeowner’s heating and cooling costs. That amount of waste really adds up. 

Why use outdated window technology if you can upgrade to energy-efficient impact windows that look great from the day of installation and provide years of lower heating and cooling costs? 

Impact windows are unparalleled in giving you more energy efficiency!

Learn more about the factors that make windows energy-efficient

9

Improved Noise Reduction

Impact-resistant windows have become popular not only for their safety aspects, but also for the added benefit of noise reduction. Because of their notable impact on outside noise, impact windows have increased in popularity even in areas where severe weather occurrences are low.

Impact windows use thick laminated glass and sturdy framing materials, which result in a decrease in external noise by as much as 40%. Their overall thickness ranges from 7/16” to 9/16”, as compared to typical single pane glass measuring an average of 1/8”.

Normal windows have little effect on outside disturbances, such as lawnmowers, pets, or parties at the neighbors. We all grow tired of loud noises disturbing our leisure time during the day or waking us up in the middle of the night. Homes are meant to be sanctuaries from all the overstimulation of the outside world!

9

Boost Curb Appeal

Impact windows not only keep winds and debris out of your home, they can also help prevent home invasions. 

Impact windows are designed to take the impact and form a “spider” pattern without the threat of fracturing shards of glass flying into your home. Two layers of tempered glass (inner and outer) sandwich an inner layer of shatter-proof polyvinyl material with impact windows. That technology provides an additional barrier to break-in attempts.

Learn more about how impact windows can help deter burglars.

You can rest assured that an investment in impact windows is well worth the cost. In fact, did you know it’s one of the top five renovations you can get your money back on? You can also be eligible for a tax break and a reduction in your insurance by purchasing impact windows. With such a wide range of benefits, the next planned upgrade to your property should include a deep look at this versatile product.

4. Choosing the right Impact Windows

If you’re ready to improve the safety and security of your property by adding impact windows, you’ll need to ask two questions when beginning your journey:

  1. How do I choose the right window brand?
  2. How do I choose the right installer?

Let’s take a look at how you can make the right decisions when exploring both questions. There are multiple factors to consider when choosing the right windows for your home, as all are not created equal. Focus on two areas when conducting research:

  1. Window Manufacturers
  2. Window Installers

For a quick guide on navigating both options, check out our post on the anatomy of a quality impact window purchase.

 

 

Aside from impact-resistant films, some hurricane impact windows also rely on an inner membrane technology that fills the space between the window panes. This membrane is made up of a PVB layer that holds the glass together, preventing it from blowing outward. 

When combined with window film, this makes the windows nearly impervious to any kind of puncture or shattering even up to wind speeds of 200 mph, or a Category 5 hurricane. We offer more education about the materials used to construct hurricane impact windows.

The frame construction of impact windows makes them that much tougher as well. Most impact-resistant windows are constructed using aluminum, vinyl, or steel frames. These kinds of frames resist warping, weakening over time, or accumulation of rust. Steel and aluminum frames are obviously extremely tough, but they can be more expensive than vinyl.

Impact windows aren’t only convenient and thoroughly constructed, they have the testing to back up their durability. Impact windows use a DP — design pressure — rating to identify how much wind they can withstand before bending or breaking. What’s unique about DP ratings is that they aren’t just assigned based on metrics like glass thickness or window size.  Instead, a DP rating is only given after a specific model has gone through a barrage of laboratory testing.

Impact windows go through a design pressure test that will ensure the windows will be able to hold up during dangerous major storms. The test consists of three parts:

9

PGT

Usually, the first test is air filtration. It is simulated to measure the pressure on the windows. Air filtration pressure alone does not affect the pressure rating of the window.

9

Mr. Glass

Mr. Glass is a premium impact window and door manufacturer that specializes in providing extended value throughout the entire life cycle of all of its products. 

Because Mr. Glass is based in Miami, Florida it understands the importance of providing commercial and residential windows that can withstand the impact of debris and hurricane-caliber winds.  

A trusted supplier of Alco, Mr. Glass can fulfill virtually any size or type of residential or commercial order.  They remain synonymous with quality and have a huge fleet of vehicles, which is perhaps why Mr. Glass is the manufacturer of choice for impact window and glass distributors in South Florida. 

To learn more about Mr. Glass, check out our guide on the company’s impact window line.

9

Eco Window Systems

Eco Windows has built a solid reputation for carrying a vast selection of impact windows, capable of facing any natural disaster. Their windows are made and designed to fit large openings, in additional to traditional property sizes. Their products are also known for being “design forward” with a variety of exceptional appearances.

To learn more about Eco Window Systems, check out our guide on the company’s impact window line.

9

ESWindows

Eco Windows has built a solid reputation for carrying a vast selection of impact windows, capable of facing any natural disaster. Their windows are made and designed to fit large openings, in additional to traditional property sizes. Their products are also known for being “design forward” with a variety of exceptional appearances.

To learn more about Eco Window Systems, check out our guide on the company’s impact window line.

Window Installers

Choosing the right installer is critical to getting not only the best price on impact windows, but the best service! It can be tempting to just go to a big-box store and do the job yourself, and that may be a viable option. Before you do, check our comparison on local installers vs. big box stores to see if your situation is the right fit for a do-it-yourself project. Don’t forget to obtain the right permits if you!

If you prefer to have someone else handle the installation of your impact windows, You need to make sure that the contractor is experienced with installing these products. You will not experience the complete benefits of your windows if they aren’t properly installed. But most importantly, your manufacturer’s warranty could be voided if the windows are installed incorrectly or you do not use a professional contractor.

When choosing a contractor, ask these five questions to ensure they are a quality option:

  1. Are they licensed and insured? (Make sure to get copies of both!)
  2. How many projects do they run at the same time?
  3. Are their technicians certified by the window manufacturer?
  4. What warranties are offered on the window and their workmanship?
  5. Can the contractor provide you with customer references?

For an in-depth guide on choosing the right contractor for your impact window project, we’ve assembled a handy companion our blog.

Lastly, make sure to do a cost-study of your upcoming project to make sure the installer is giving you the best price. Our guide on the cost of impact windows can provide you a starting point. If you need additional financing, we also offer a walkthrough to help you navigate the process.

5. Maintaining your new windows

In addition to superior protection from severe weather, the construction of impact windows provides several ancillary benefits for your home, business, or rental properties. 

 

 

9

Cleaning Your Impact Windows

Keeping your windows both looking great and functioning properly requires an infrequent touch of maintenance. Routine cleaning to remove dust, dirt, pollen, and other airborne particles can go a long way in keeping your windows in top shape.. The following is an overview of how you can clean impact windows.

  1. Use microfiber towels, not paper towels.
  2. Spray with a low-pressure hose.
  3. Clean away from direct sunlight.
  4. Use a squeegee to remove excess water.
  5. Finish by applying a non-abrasive glass cleaner.

For a more comprehensive tutorial, check out Alco’s step-by-step guide for how to clean impact windows.

9

Tinting Your Impact Windows

For even greater sun-blocking power, it is possible to tint your new impact windows. This process is usually a weekend do-it-yourself project, and there are factors to consider before adding this feature. For a full guide and analysis, Alco has a beginner’s tutorial on tinting your windows.

9

Repairing Impact Windows

During severe weather seasons, heavy winds, tornadoes, and hurricanes frequently pick up man-made and natural debris and send it flinging at our homes. But for as strong and capable as impact windows are, they can become cracked or broken following a particularly bad natural disaster. In addition, something unpredictable might happen, such as a fallen tree or errant golf ball, to cause damage to your investment. 

The good news is that yes, impact windows can be repaired. But that repair or replacement should be done as soon as possible.

To learn more, see Alco’s guide on how you can repair your impact windows.

6. ABOUT ALCO WINDOWS AND DOORS

Since the founding of this company, the staff at Alco Windows and Doors has realized our technical know-how and the persistence to get the job completed every time. We understand the connection between business and buyer, and take pleasure in furnishing homes with high-quality products with a professional service.

We are local to the Miami, Florida area and specialize in catering to the local community’s needs. We have an intimate knowledge of the surrounding area and use that as a platform to connect with and better serve our peers. Striving for perfection, we want to be the guys you call first to solve all your impact window and door needs. Because we know that a home deserves top-quality safety combined with a sleek design, Alco Windows and Doors uses only the highest rated materials produced in the United States to get the job finished. Your satisfaction is our goal, so installing anything less than a premium window or door would be contrary to our mission.

Above all, Alco Windows and Doors is a small business. As a small business, we are cognizant of the factors that determine our success. We could not be successful without our devoted customers who bring our vision to reality. Therefore, Alco Windows and Doors is as much a part of the consumer base as we are our own separate entity. Without you, our valued customers, we would not be able to do what we love every day. And for that, we thank you.

Learn more about our founder, Luis Alvarez.