What is an impact window?

Impact-resistant windows, usually called impact windows or even hurricane windows are specially designed to resist strong weather conditions. They are a combination of heavy-duty frames with impact-resistant laminated glass. They go through a special silicone glazing process to keep the glass from separating or breaking apart from the frames.

Laminated glass is often used in car’s windshields. It is composed by two layers of glass bonded together with a special layer of polyvinylbutyral. Although a strong impact can cause the glass to crack. It is held together in a place by this interlayer, preventing destructive winds, and even intruders and burglars to enter your home. Also, these windows are energy and cost-efficient.

How are impact windows rated?

All impact windows should have a design pressure rating, in order to quantify this rating all windows must go through rigorous tests. Typically, this test is a three-pronged one, it’s mostly based on the structural components, air, and water pressure. Usually, the first test that it’s run is the air filtration one. Air filtration is simulated to measure the pressure on the windows. However, air filtration does not define the rating.

What does, are the water penetration and structural test. The latter is mainly about the glass and frame of the window. If the glass is thicker and the frame is made of higher-end materials, it will get a higher rating. The water penetration test, on the other side, is tested by a percentage of the design pressure. The amount of rain that should be kept out is based on the windows DP rating. 

Usually, windows are tested on higher pressure levels than it is indicated on their design pressure rating. For example, a DP rated window is marked to withstand winds of 110mph. However, when the window was tested it showed that it could withstand up to 170mph strong winds.

Impact windows installation process

If you made the decision to replace your standard windows with impact windows, there are some things you should know. First, it is best if a professional make the installation. Second, there is a series of steps to follow in order to install hurricane windows. It can be quite tricky to install them, but here’s a quick guide.

  1. Get some help. Typically impact windows do not need special installment, two people should be able to do it. However, it is recommended to have an expert in the matter either help you or perform the installation themselves.
  2. Remove the standard windows. Separate the existing windows from their frame and place it in a safe spot. 
  3. Dry fit the windows. You should dry-fit the already assembled impact window into the opening of the frame. Dry fitting can ensure proper size and operation before you apply any sealer.
  4. Apply sealant. After dry fitting, the windows, remove the unit and apply and approved sealant to the outside perimeter of the opening. 
  5. Nail it down. After applying the sealant, you must, very carefully, put the window in place and nail it into the frame.
  6. Extra hold. If you want to guarantee that no air pressure damages your windows and endangers your home, apply approved silicone caulking. This should be applied to the edges of the frame.

Benefits of having impact windows

After Hurricane Andrew hit South Florida in 1992, it became apparent that measures needed to be taken. Thousands of homes and buildings were destroyed by the strong winds. Making it a necessary thing to figure out a way to prevent this. That is how impact windows came to be. They became the standard when building in or around the South Florida area. Building codes make them a requirement, for homes and businesses.

The biggest benefit is that they hold together when impacted, they may crack, but never send shards of glass flying. This is incredibly helpful when strong winds and hurricane hits. Since they can throw objects around and they could impact the glass. This also means that in case a burglar tries to break into your home, they won’t be able to go through your window easily, keeping you safe in both scenarios.

Another advantage is its strong and resistant structure. The windows won’t break or separate from the frame, and the glass won’t break. Which means, the winds can’t get inside the house. The major cause for destroyed homes during a hurricane is the change of pressure when windows break. Also, these windows provide a barrier for UV rays. Keeping you safe from the damaging effects of the sun.

Impact windows types

There are many options to choose from. The framing material can go from vinyl to heavy duty extruded aluminum. When painted with electrostatic paint, it gives it a low maintenance finish. Molded nylon anti-friction sash guides ensure better operation. While some people prefer wood for their windows’ framings. It rots and warps, making it unstable and unsafe for strong winds and harsh weather conditions.

There are also many styles to choose from, and impact windows can be customizable. You should look for high performing features, such as laminated insulated glass, which is energy efficient. Also, heat-reducing glass tints and hi-performance low-E selections. These can give you the benefits of reduced energy bills and protect draperies and artworks from fading.

Impact windows maintenance

Maintaining impact windows is fairly simple. It all starts with the products you use to keep them clean. They can simply be cleaned with water but this method often leaves streaks once they dry. Hard water, is also not so great to clean since the minerals in it are what leave the streaks behind. Distilled water has had all impurities removed, which makes it better for cleaning the windows.

Using a combination of 50% distilled water and 50% vinegar is also a great option. Vinegar is great for cleaning pretty much anything. It leaves no streaks behind on the glass after cleaning. Paper towels leave lint traces on the glass. Use a micro-fiber cloth or even newspapers, they are very absorbent and remove dust and dirt. Keeping your impact windows clean guarantees their longevity, which ensures the safety of your home.


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