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.
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...
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 (for US residents only) 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 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 to be covered by shutters.
What if you can't afford hurricane proof windows?
There are a number of cheaper options:
Metal Storm Shutters
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.
There are three popular types of frames that are designed to be used in conjunction with hurricane proof windows.
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.
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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