HURRICANE IMPACT WINDOWS
Hurricane-resistant windows became truly popular in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, which struck Florida in 1992. A truly devastating storm, it caused more than $25 billion in damage. This led to a serious investigation into the development of new technologies to help keep homes and businesses safe in the face of hurricanes, tropical storms, and other severe weather patterns. Hurricane impact windows were one of the major outcomes of this.
If your home or business is in an area affected by hurricanes, installing hurricane impact windows can make a huge difference in keeping your property and your family safe. For more hurricane safety information, see our hurricane safety guide.
This guide will walk you through all of the steps involved in installing hurricane impact windows – what they are, what costs are involved, and their strengths and weaknesses – so you can make an informed decision about whether they are right for you.
WHAT IS A
As the name suggests, a hurricane impact window is a type of window that is reinforced in order to give better protection against strong winds and pressure changes. In addition, hurricane impact windows are designed to break in a safer way if and when they do succumb to the force of the hurricane. This not only helps to keep your property secure but helps to keep people safer from the debris a hurricane brings.
The actual classification of ‘hurricane impact’ windows is reliant on a special treatment that the glass undergoes as part of the manufacturing process. Glass that is marketed as being either hurricane-resistant or storm-proof are first made with impact-resistant glass, which is then treated with a layer of polyvinyl butyral (PVB) or ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA). This additional layer works to hold the glass together, giving it additional strength.
Although hurricane impact glass is not designed to be unbreakable (a sharp blow from a flying object, such as a tree branch, will lead it to break), but the glass will generally remain attached to the PVB or EVA membrane and the window frame.
This keeps it intact enough to remain roughly in place, rather than traditional windows, which upon breaking, will serve no function and will usually fall totally out of place.
An additional safety feature with hurricane impact windows is that they are designed to break in a specific manner. A regular window will shatter on impact, and shards of glass will be strewn around the area (usually inside your home in the case of a hurricane). This in itself provides an extra danger. Hurricane impact windows crack into a spider web-pattern, avoiding shards of glass. On top of this, the fact that the chunks of glass are small makes it easier for the membrane to hold it together.
If you don’t have hurricane-resistant windows installed in your home, you can increase your home’s preparedness by buying a surface membrane and attaching this to the glass. Although this will not be as strong as an actual treated hurricane impact window, it will reduce the window’s likelihood of shattering, and creating a safer environment for your home.
WHAT DO HURRICANE
IMPACT WINDOWS COST?
If you live in an area affected by hurricanes, storms, or other extreme weather patterns, installing hurricane impact windows seems like an obvious solution. Indeed, the good news is that installing them may not be as expensive as you may think.
THE OVERALL COST
A hurricane window costs between $40 and $55 per square foot (this includes window frame and glass). To get a sense of how much you will pay, measure the windows in your home and use this as the base figure. As an average, a single-hung hurricane impact window will cost between $500 and $600 for materials only. A sliding window 72 x 80 inches will cost around $2,000.
Of course, you will need to factor in the cost of installation, which varies from $25 to $50 per hour for a professional contractor to do.
If you have the ability, it is definitely possible to hang a hurricane impact window yourself. They are little different than regular windows in this respect. Although because of their important role, it may be better to have a professional do the job for you.
The best time to install hurricane impact windows is when you are building a new home. This has several advantages, such as the fact that you can buy in bulk, and you already have contractors working, so the costs of installation are absorbed into the overall building costs. The resulting economy of scale means you are only increasing the cost of the home by between $2,000 and $10,000, which in the grand scheme of building a home is not a great deal.
You should also consider installing hurricane impact windows to be an investment. Obviously, it is an investment into the safety of your home and your family, which can be difficult to put a price on. In terms of basic numbers, however, you can also see it as a financial investment.
THIS IS TRUE IN THREE MAIN WAYS:
The damage to your home and your property is reduced.
If you don’t install hurricane impact windows and your existing windows shatter during a storm, you will need to totally replace the window. In addition, since the storm can now reach inside your home, you are also likely to experience water damage to your space and belongings as well as potential home flooding. This damage is mitigated by hurricane impact windows.
Your insurance premiums may be reduced.
Although this very much varies from insurer to insurer, there is a chance that – with the installation of hurricane impact windows – your premiums will be reduced because of the reduced likelihood of expensive damage to your home.
Your home will increase in value.
As a consequence of the two reasons above, a potential buyer is likely to view your home as more desirable and therefore the overall value of your home will increase.
Of course, installing hurricane impact windows is more than just a financial decision, but anything that can diminish the costs makes the decision easier.
ADVANTAGES & DISADVANTAGES
OF HURRICANE IMPACT WINDOWS
Although the advantages of hurricane impact windows may seem fairly self-explanatory, there are additional factors to consider when it comes to installing hurricane impact windows. Indeed, hurricane impact windows confer a number of additional advantages on top of their resistance to storms:
Despite all of the advantages listed above, there are some limitations to installing hurricane impact windows.
Hurricane impact windows are truly impressive feats of technology, especially given that they are relatively easy to manufacture, and therefore don’t cost significantly more than regular windows.
A hurricane-resistant window is designed to help your home survive a Category 5 storm, which involves winds of more than 200 miles-per-hour.
To give context
Hurricane Sandy (which hit the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, and was the largest hurricane ever recorded by diameter) was a Category 4 hurricane, with wind speeds of 115 mph.
The only limitation is your budget and your inclination to do the work (or pay someone to do it for you). Not only will you make your home more livable, but you’ll potentially add value to your home, meaning you should see it as more of an investment – if not just in your quality of life.