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Hurricane Proof Windows - Guaranteed To Protect Your Home


Hurricane proof windows are absolutely essential if you happen to live in areas where severe thunderstorms and hurricanes occur.

If you have chosen a storm window that suits your location correctly, you can be reassured that your windows are adequately protected.



What are hurricane proof windows?

Please note: Duct and gorilla tape will never protect your windows during a hurricane, but genuine hurricane tapeTM will.


Most hurricane proof windows are constructed from a number of layers of glass that are bonded to a plastic interlayer and then placed within strengthened sashes and frames.

The laminated glass is then tightly sealed within the frame using a highly flexible silicone adhesive.

This guarantees that the laminated glass pane does indeed remain within the frame when the laminated window is being subject to moderate-to-high wind loads (either from a microburst, hurricane, or a weak tornado) and by flying debris.

A tightly sealed hurricane proof window will dramatically improve your homes thermal efficiency and it will help to lower your power bills. Furthermore, if you live in an area that's subject to ongoing traffic noise, then hurricane proof windows will block the majority of this noise.

While it's a myth to believe that hurricane proof windows can never break, you can be certain that they will provide a high level protection against storm surges, flooding, hurricane force winds and very importantly, flying debris.

In comparison, a typical window with a single glass pane provides very little protection. When strong winds hit a conventional glass pane, the glass begins to flex (if it doesn't pop out of the frame first) before ultimately shattering.



Should you upgrade your existing windows to hurricane proof windows?


Yes if and only if...

  1. Your house is frequently hit by hurricanes or are particularly concerned that a hurricane may impact your home and you're not planning to move out of your current house.
    • (If the majority of these hurricanes are relatively weak and infrequent, then you should consider looking at alternative window protection such as genuine hurricane tapeTM.)

  2. You live in an area that is regularly affected by severe thunderstorms that are accompanied by downbursts, tornadoes and large hail stones.

  3. You've had to replace your existing windows numerous times in the past since you live near a golf course.


Hurricane proof windows provide piece of mind since they help prevent 'smash and grab' type crimes and generally act as a great deterrent for other would-be thieves. However, you still need to install a quality house alarm to protect the rest of your home from forced entry.

Another good reason to upgrade is because many insurance companies reward customers by offering lower premiums if you do make the switch to hurricane proof windows.

One such insurance company is Citizens Property Insurance Corporation who offer home owners up to a 45% discount if they replace their windows with certified hurricane proof windows. So you may want to look into this type of insurance if you're planning to replace your windows anyway.

In Charleston, Southern Carolina, studies have shown that every house owner who had replaced their existing tempered glass windows with impact resistant (glass laminate) windows would have suffered minimal window damage following a direct hit from two strong hurricanes (i.e. Diana (1984) and Gloria (1985)).

Whereas, house owners who kept their existing tempered glass would have reported complete window damage and breakage.



Do you live in an area that requires additional window protection such as certified hurricane proof windows?

If you live in the coastal parts of Louisiana or Florida or another hurricane prone region of the US and the Caribbean, there are now stringent building codes in place (like the Florida Building Code) that must be adhered to.

If your home was built prior to 1998, then it's highly likely that your windows do not meet the current code requirements. These codes have been put in place to ensure that the impact resistant windows sold by companies are genuine.

While not all regions of the US need to abide the new building codes, it's in your best interest to find out if your state does. Especially if you're planning to buy new windows for your house.

Since certified hurricane proof windows are expensive, you may have to look at alternative window protection that will safeguard your windows from flying debris and also meet the requirements of the updated building codes.



What type of tests do window manufacturers perform to ensure that the windows are impact resistant and hurricane proof?

By law, the window manufacturer must test their products using the large missile 2 x 4' impact test and then subject the same window to a cyclic high wind load to see if the glass pane shatters or additionally pops out of the frame. If the window fails these tests, then it cannot be sold.

All impact resistant windows are given a design pressure (DP) rating. A design pressure rating is a particular type of rating system that is used to determine the strength of a window if it is subjected to very high exterior pressures due to the hurricane force winds.

Very important: A DP rated window does not mean that you have a hurricane proof window. The DP rating only measures the structural pressure on the window due to the wind. If the same window was hit by windborne debris during a category two hurricane, it is likely to shatter. A DP rated windows were never designed to be impact resistant and water proof.

A window with a DP30 rating can withstand sustained winds to 110 mph, but is tested structurally at a pressure equivalent to 164 mph. This is the strength of a category two hurricane. You can also obtain a DP40 rated window. This is able to withstand a lower end scale category three hurricane where the wind gusts reach 190 mph.

The highest DP rated window you can obtain is 50. This means the window has been tested to withstand the high wind load up to and including a category five hurricane. Obviously the higher the DP rating, the more protection the window has from strong winds and the more expensive it is.




Are you ready to buy and then install hurricane proof windows?

If you're about to go out and buy hurricane proof windows, then make sure that you've measured your window space properly. If you have windows that are unusual in shape, then you'll need to ask a carpenter or a contractor to show you how to take these measurements. Then use the manufacturers state certified licensed contractor (instead of a yourself) to install these windows since you don't get a nasty surprise when it's time to fit these windows.

Whatever you do, please don't place your hurricane proof windows on only one side of your house. Yes, you know that the hurricane winds will hit the hardest on that side of the house but after the eye passes over your area, almost equal strength winds will hit on the opposite side. Furthermore, a hurricane that is increasing in strength as it approaches a coastline tends to initiate tornadoes in the eye, so no side of the house will be protected.

Since winds in a hurricane are normally stronger at higher elevations, then it is wise to have maximum protection in all your windows if you live on top of a hill. It is critical that you install hurricane proof windows on the lower stories of your house since this is the most common location where thefts occur. It will also prevent water leakage into the house if flood waters rise up to window height.

Hurricane proof windows do not need additional protection from shutters.


What if you can't afford hurricane proof windows?

There are a number of cheaper options:

Metal Storm Shutters

Advantages:

  • Once installed, they will permanently protect your windows and doors.

  • Much cheaper than hurricane proof windows

  • Metal shutters, typically made out of steel or heavy aluminum are designed to roll down like a window blind when in use. After use, metal shutters simply fold back up. The most expensive metal shutters have a small motorised unit so that they can be activated by the press of a button.


Disadvantages:

  • Shutters sometimes fail to hold back the incredible wind pressure that is being exerted upon your windows or doors.

  • Since they are quite heavy and cumbersome you might need to pay a certified contractor to install them.

  • You won't be able to see outside.

  • Hurricane shutters are effective but they need to be changed after a storm.

  • The new Florida Building Codes requires that hurricane shutters must be placed over every door and window if they are not impact resistant.



Genuine Hurricane TapeTM

Hurricane officials from the Federal Alliance of Safe Homes are wrong. They believe taping windows provides a false sense of security and potentially adds to the risk of damage to your home.

However, there is one type of tape that provides excellent protection for your windows during a hurricane that the hurricane officials have not mentioned since it's relatively unknown. No, I'm not talking about professional duct (duck) tape or gorilla tape. Genuine hurricane tapeTM made by Bunker IndustriesTM is incredibly strong (in terms of cohesive and tensile strength) and is waterproof as well. Do not use professional duct or gorilla tape on your windows since it's useless if flying debris hits your window.

Even though hurricane tapeTM is the cheapest priced window protection, it provides excellent protection against impact and shattering during hurricanes and tornadoes, if used properly. The tape is made out of woven polyethylene plastic integrated with a water-based acrylic and so is extremely effective in maintaining the integrity of the window even if the glass breaks. Furthermore, hurricane tapeTM will prevent glass pieces from becoming airborne.

Hurricane tapeTM is considered a better option than hurricane panels since they are placed over the inside of the window and with much less effort. And yes, it's also a very effective deterrent against looting and other 'smash and grab' type crimes.

By the way, hurricane tapeTM passes the standard large missile 2 x 4' impact test whereas plywood hurricane shutters do not.

If you require further information on this product, then please go to the official hurricane tapeTM website.

The main disadvantage of hurricane tapeTM is that you won't be able to see outside.



Hurricane panels and plywood hurricane shutters

Although though the Florida Building Code recommends their use, I'm wary about using any product that completely covers a window or door from the outside. If you ever have to get out of your house quickly for whatever reason then you have no means of escaping.

Plywood hurricane shutters will not protect your windows from flying debris during a hurricane. While they are better than no protection, I do not recommend them since they are subject to rot and are bulky to store. It's much wiser to use ultra strong authentic hurricane tapeTM.




Just be aware that many of the above mentioned products may prevent you from exiting from a window quickly if there was ever a house fire. Genuine hurricane tapeTM is placed over the inside of the window and can be quickly removed if need be.




There are three popular types of frames that are designed to be used in conjunction with hurricane proof windows.

These are:

  1. Aluminum
  2. Wood
  3. and
  4. Vinyl


Please note: You'll need to ask the manufacturer what is the best type of frame (wood, vinyl or aluminium) to use so that it ideally matches the impact resistant glass that they sell. Your hurricane proof window has to be made to withstand anything nature has to throw at it (literally).

The table below serves only as a guide and does not replace the advice provided by a window manufacturer.



Comparison of aluminum, wood and vinyl frames
Wooden frames Good points
  1. Excellent to use in conjunction with a laminated glass interlayer known as Sentry Glass Plus.
  2. Yes these have been around for centuries and for good reason, they add character to the home.
  3. Provides excellent thermal performance by keeping the heat from passing through.
  4. Modern wooden frames last a lot longer than older wooden frames.
  5. Modern timber has been treated with chemicals to reduce the progression of rot and mold.
  6. You can reduce maintenance time by asking for clad windows instead.
  7. Clad wood windows are made by placing a thin strip of either aluminum or vinyl over the front of the wooden frame.
Bad points
  1. Older wooden frames need constant maintenance since they are more likely to swell in hot humid conditions and shrink in cold weather.
  2. Older wooden frames are difficult to open or close since due to warping and swelling.
  3. Shorter lifespan than both vinyl and aluminum frames.
  4. Should be painted and sealed every four years to slow down the ageing process.
Aluminum frames Good points
  1. Very good to use with the most common types of laminated glass interlayers (i.e. liquid resin, Sentry Glass Plus, polyvinyl butyral (PVB) and a hybrid of PVB with layered PET film on each side of the PVB).
  2. Easy to obtain and quite popular
  3. Great strength and will resist the strongest of winds.
  4. Least expensive of all the storm window frames and easy to install.
  5. Does not wear down as quickly as wooden frames. Doesn't corrode like steel.
  6. Aluminum frames are resistant to scratching
  7. Requires very little maintenance.
  8. You can obtain thermally improved aluminum frames. These provide better insulation while maintaining the strength and pliability of aluminum.
Bad points
  1. If outdoor temperature is extreme, the frame temperature will reflect the outdoor temperature.
Vinyl frames Good points
  1. Very good to use with most types of laminated glass interlayers except maybe Sentry Glass Plus
  2. A popular choice of frame to use in conjunction with hurricane proof windows.
  3. Longer life than wooden frames.
  4. More pliable than aluminum and much more so than wood.
  5. Can be used in custom storm windows. Can be matched to nearly any colour you desire.
  6. Not damaged by flooding unlike wooden frames.
  7. They are installed on the outside and perform well against wind, rain, sunlight and heat.
  8. Vinyl is nearly maintenance free just like aluminum and clad wood windows.
  9. Can be strengthened by incorporating metal reinforcements to the hollow chambers that are within the vinyl.
Bad points
  1. May crack if temperature is extremely low. In most instances they don't crack.
  2. Colour tends to fade with age.
  3. If the outside temperature is extremely high, the vinyl can become stretched.


Don't forget to protect the rest of your home since obtaining hurricane proof windows is only the start to making your home hurricane proof.





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