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The Difference Between Hurricane Windows and Impact Windows

Impact windows were developed on the hurricane window design by advancing safety glass production methods. Both are made with safety glass: layers of glass panes and laminate, a clear flexible plastic called polyvinyl butyl or PVB.

Florida homeowners have always put careful thought into window selection because our homes have to contend with hurricanes from the Atlantic Ocean; it's no surprise that we need windows that are sturdier and more flexible than your average pane of glass. Whether you are renovating or building a new home, it's important to choose windows that can withstand the local weather. When doing your literal window-shopping, one question always arises: What is the difference between hurricane windows and impact windows? Despite the fact that they are two distinct things, impact windows and hurricane windows are often used interchangeably. Just remember that they are actually two different products that you will be choosing between.

Hurricane Windows

What is a hurricane window pane? These windows were designed when glass windows proved to shatter dangerously in high-wind storms. Hurricane windows are held together with one or more layers of laminate PVB. This adds flexibility so that windows may bend some in heavy winds without breaking. In the event that hurricane windows do break from an impact, the laminate holds to the glass so that it falls instead of shattering into a dangerous spray of shards.

Flexible and Wind-Resistant

The thin layer of laminate that holds the glass panes together provides an element of flexibility. When the wind blows in hard gusts, the panes will flex in the frames instead of cracking or shattering like a glass-only pane.

Breaks without Shattering

Hurricane windows only have a small amount of impact resistance, mainly provided by the wind-resitant flexing qualities. However, they have been designed to shatter safely so that impacts do not put the family in danger. The layer of laminate bonds to the glass so that even if an impact breaks the panes, the glass is more likely to star or fall while still bonded instead of spraying glass shards through the house.

Designed for Florida Weather

Hurricane windows were designed to withstand the type of weather that Florida sees every Hurricane season. Florida homeowners have been installing hurricane windows for decades using safety glass technology.

Affordable and Versatile

Hurricane windows require fewer layers of glass and laminate, and fit into normal window frames. This makes them the more affordable option for homeowners, especially those looking to replace a window that was storm-cracked in the most recent hurricane.

Impact Windows

Impact windows are a development of impact-resistant glass, a child of safety glass technology. While hurricane windows tend to use one or two layers of laminate PVB, impact windows feature a thicker overall pane using multiple layers of glass and laminate to make the windows more durable. Impact windows are heavier, less flexible, and thicker than hurricane windows, but they can also withstand a windblown lawn chair.

Thicker with Layers of Glass & Laminate

Impact windows use multiple layers of PET laminated glass and PVB layers between the panes. This makes each window both thicker and heavier than hurricane windows, with a higher plastic to glass ratio. Because of this, it is far less likely that impact glass will crack or shatter when faced with storms, heavy flying debris, or home invasion attempts.

Wind and Impact Resistance

The plastic-coated design of safety glass makes both hurricane windows and impact windows resistant to high-speed winds. Both impact windows and hurricane windows will resist shattering when the next storm blows through. However, impact windows offer greater resistance against direct force as well. An impact window is more likely to flex and scuff when faced with high-velocity patio furniture, while hurricane windows will crack like normal glass, but fall like safety glass.

Energy Efficiency and Noise Reduction

Due to the thicker panes and greater polymer content, impact windows are also more energy-efficient. Temperature is less likely to pass through impact glass panes. As an added bonus, impact windows also offer signifianct noise reduction. Outside sounds won't penetrate the home and loud music indoors is far less likely to bother nearby neighbors.

Heavy-Duty Window Frames

Installing impact window panes will mean investing in thicker window frames, as well. Because impact windows are designed to be thicker than normal windows and are much heavier, they will need to be supported by stronger window frames. Thicker boards and greater support is necessary to keep your impact windows securely in place.

Cost and Installation

Impact windows are a noticeable price jump from hurricane windows due to the increased amount of material used in each window. These windows also suggest an expert installation team to safely handle the heavy panes of glass and their sturdier window frames.

Developed from Hurricane Windows

The most important difference between hurricane windows and impact windows is depth. Both make use of safety glass technology by layering glass panes with clear plastic laminate. Both provide flexibility and some amount of impact resistance. Hurricane windows offer more flex, while impact windows are more resistant to solid objects. Hurricane windows are standard width with one or two layers of laminate, while impact windows are especially thick and heaavy, requiring stronger window frames for installation. Finally, hurricane windows are considerably more affordable to both purchase and install, while impact windows offer a higher degree of home protection.

What is the difference between hurricane and impact windows?

Hopefully now you have all the information you need to start shopping new or replacement windows for your home. If you're not sure or want to explore your options, contact us today. Our team would be glad to discuss your window design, your security needs, and help you choose the right windows for the entire home.

Call (561) 914-4636 to ask how we can help.

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