During hurricane season, residents who live along the east coast and the Gulf Coast of the United States understand protecting their home is vital when a disturbance in the ocean erupts into a full-blown hurricane. One of the areas susceptible to high winds and flying debris is your home’s windows. With this in mind, shatter-resistant glass windows are on the list as an upgrade for many homeowner in hurricane or tornado prone areas.

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About Impact-Resistant Windows

When investing in impact-resistant windows, you will be purchasing windows designed to withstand the forces of nature. The window is constructed of impact-resistant glass mounted within a heavy-duty frame. This frame is then securely anchored within the window’s interior frame.

The material used for impact-resistant frames can be vinyl frames, wood frames, metal or a blending of these materials. There is usually an additive or strengthener, such as steel, added to the frame as an additional reinforcement factor. Hurricane resistant windows provide protection by using a combination of impact-resistant glass coupled with reinforced frames and a sturdy anchoring system.

Types of Shatter-resistant Glazing

Impact-resistant windowpanes also have the added sturdiness of glazing.

Laminated glazing windows are constructed using double paned glass with an inner impact-resistant membrane situated between the panes. The glazing film is available in assorted tint colors that also work to regulate UV rays and lessen the chance of fading due to the sun. With the membrane in place, if the window is impacted by debris traveling at a high speed, it will be able to withstand the trauma. The glass itself may shatter, but it will not become airborne due to the membrane that will hold the shattered pieces within the frame.

The membrane also deters the entry of water or wind into the interior. High winds are especially dangerous since once they enter the home, they need a way to exit. As the pressure inside the home increases, if there are no exits for the wind, it will result in blown out walls, doors, and the removal of the roof.

The second option is an impact-resistant film placed over each pane of glass. While not as sturdy as the membrane option, it does help keep shards of broken glass in place should the window shatter. How well the window film functions, depends on the stability of the window glazing and the window frame.

An added bonus to impact-resistant windows is the extra security for your home. With the window’s ability to withstand multiple hits without shattering, the durable window becomes a deterrent for potential intruders.

Selecting Impact-resistant Windows

When searching for replacement windows, check each window manufacturer carefully as not all windows available on the market are impact-resistant. According to Consumer Affairs, the following list is a sampling of the top 10 best-rated companies for windows and doors.

New Construction and Impact-resistant Windows

If you are in the process of building a home or room addition in one of the hurricane states, chances are you will be required to install impact-resistant windows and/or hurricane shutters. Check with your local building department for information about what type of hurricane preventative windows are required.

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Estimated Costs for Impact-resistant Windows

Because the construction of impact-resistant windows is more involved than traditional windows, they are heavier due to the framework, and they’re designed to meet special codes for durability, the price for each window is higher as well as the cost of installation.

Prices for impact-resistant windows are not set in stone. There are several factors involved, such as the window brand, material, glazing, your location, the standard window size, the number of windows needed, and the cost of installation and labor supplied by a contractor and crew.

Generally, impact-resistant windows with laminated glazing for a standard-sized window can average $400 – $800 per window. Labor and installation costs can average $1000-$3000.

Benefits of Hurricane Windows

While installing hurricane resistant windows represents a sizable investment in your home, you can expect a higher level of security for your home during a storm. Depending on the type and brand you choose, as well as its specific characteristics, impact resistant windows can withstand up to 184 mph wind speed and absorb the direct impact of flying debris equal to a two-by-four piece of wood traveling at around 50 feet per second.

Having this added protection is less costly, overall, than the alternative of facing extensive home repairs due to wind and water damage entering your home through a breached window. Plus, unlike electronic roll-down shutters that require activation, high-impact, wind-resistant hurricane windows provide 24/7 protection.

Rebates and Tax Incentives

High-performance, hurricane resistant windows may qualify for certain rebates and/or tax incentives due to their increased energy savings on efficient windows . Visit the DSIRE “Database for State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency” website to explore money saving options available in your area.