What are Impact Windows?

Our homes represent who we are. It makes sense, then, that we want our windows to make a visual impact, but that’s not the definition of impact windows. They are so much more than beautiful!

True, they come in virtually every size and style you can imagine, but there is a lot more to know.

A bit of history

A Category 5 hurricane leaves a path of destruction like no other.

Such was the case after Hurricane Andrew ripped through the state of Florida in 1992. Florida is one of our most populated states. The massive amount of destruction left in Andrew’s wake prompted officials to call for changes in the Florida building codes. Since 2002, all new construction must use hurricane resistant materials.

Window manufacturers were listening.

It was not long before they had the problem solved.

Currently, only Florida and Louisiana require hurricane resistant building materials for all new construction, both commercial and residential.

Well, Hurricane Harvey proved that a Category 4 hurricane is no picnic, either, when it made landfall in 2017, didn’t it?

Texas suffered billions of dollars in damage, ranking Harvey as the second most costly hurricane to hit the United States mainland since 1900!

Texans realized the need to reinforce their homes for hurricane safety if they hadn’t before.

A bit of science

It makes sense that stronger windows and doors hold the force of the storm at bay.

Homes that are subjected to hurricane force winds packing debris of any and all forms are in danger of losing their windows and doors. Once the wind forces its way into the house, watch out! Not only are you and your family in danger of being struck with glass and debris, but the wind immediately begins looking for an escape route of it’s own.

It races to the top of your home pushing against the roof and finding every nook and cranny available to try and force it’s way out. Simultaneously, the same winds are beating against your roof from the outside. The combined wind force from both inside and out work together and are capable of taking your roof right off your home.

Not good.

Backed up the beauty with brawn

Determined to solve the problem of blown out windows or windows smashed to bits from debris, manufacturers began looking for the answer.

It didn’t take them long to find it.

Manufacturers of tempered glass utilize a thermal or chemical process. The procedure changes the strength value of glass for the better. But, in the rapid cooling process of the glass, there is a change in the way the glass breaks apart, as well. When breakage occurs, tempered glass shatters into thousands of little “balls.”

If there is no danger of flying shards, windows made of tempered glass are safer.

Creators of the impact window didn’t stop there, however. A sheet of high tech material, often polymer, adheres to two panels of tempered glass. This added reinforcement makes it extremely difficult for windows to break. If they crack, even shatter, they will not fly apart!

Eureka!

Just because they say so

Window manufacturers brought their new product to the table, but just because they said they were good to go wasn’t the proof required to rate a window as impact resistant.

Regulators created a series of tests.

If the entire window unit remains intact throughout, they earn a hurricane resistant rating and rightly so!

The tests are brutal, but, then again, so are hurricanes.

What’s on the test

Testers perform the large missile test first. A 6-foot 2×4 is projected at the window with the force equating to that of hurricane winds. It must strike the window end first.

If this test is passed, the window unit goes on to the small missile test. Steel ball bearings (or gravel of the same size) are hurled toward the window covering a distance of 80 feet per second. The window must remain intact upon impact.

High wind and water resistant tests are then performed.

There are window units that do sustain damage during testing. However, if the entire window unit remains intact during the process, it is given a rating as to performance. The window label reveals the appropriate rating.

Check the fringe

And, we don’t mean on your window treatments!

Impact windows are a giant step in the right direction to reinforce your home to withstand the force of a hurricane.

Moreover, they offer these benefits as well:

  • Intruder protection — Intruders want to hit like a hurricane, hard and fast. Built to take a beating, impact windows provide a defense against home invasion, too. Imagine their dismay when met with resistance at their preferred point of entry! Odds are it will send would-be intruders packing.
  • Decrease outside noise levels — The added reinforcement between window panels does more than beef up strength! It also acts as a muffler. Outside noises stay outside or decrease to a very low level. There are no more outside distractions to affect your solitude.
  • UV protection — The sun’s rays are brutal if not protected against. That goes for our bodies and our stuff! Impact windows block the UV rays. That means no more faded furniture and carpets!
  • Energy efficient — The protection provided to your home increases when you install impact windows. However, you will also see a decrease in your utility bill! These windows keep the outside air out and the inside air in. They will eventually pay for themselves in energy savings!

Take matters into your own hands

The time to install impact windows in your home is now.

Currently, Texas building codes do not require new construction to utilize hurricane resistant building materials. Instead, it recommends adopting the 2003 IBC and 2000 IRC for cities and counties.

However, not all locations have done that.

It shouldn’t matter one bit.

Living through the destruction caused by a hurricane and losing everything you own is a pretty rough wake up call.

We’d recommend you to be ahead of the curve. Get your home in shape now, instead of taking a chance on having no home later.

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