What You Need To Know About Impact-Resistant Windows

In regions where the wrath of nature manifests as hurricanes and storms, incorporating protective measures in buildings and homes is essential. When you are no stranger to the severe weather events of North Carolina, safeguarding your house and the people and property within it is a top priority.

Impact windows, often a crucial part of this defensive strategy, offer a shield against the turbulent forces of nature. Here’s what you need to know about impact-resistant windows.

What Are Impact Windows?

Often referred to as hurricane windows, impact windows are specially designed to endure the high winds and flying debris associated with hurricanes. Unlike conventional windows, which can shatter under severe weather conditions, impact windows are built to withstand the forces of a storm.

Standards for Hurricane Windows

Impact windows undergo stringent testing to meet the standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). These standards ensure that impact-resistant windows live up to their label, particularly in hurricane-prone areas. The testing process includes subjecting the windows to high-velocity wind and impact from airborne debris.

These stringent tests are designed to simulate the harsh conditions of a hurricane. One of the most pivotal tests is the 2x4 missile test, where a nine-foot-long wood 2x4 is fired at the center, and then the corners, of the window at a speed of 50 feet per second. This test mimics the impact of debris, like tree limbs, being hurled towards a window during a storm. The goal is to ensure that the window remains intact, even after sustaining forceful contact with airborne objects.

In addition to the 2x4 missile test, the ASTM subjects windows to a cyclic pressure test involving steel balls. This involves shooting a series of small steel balls at the windows to simulate the effect of hail or a barrage of small flying objects. To pass the test, the windows must withstand the impact of the steel balls without shattering.

These tests are meant to prove the resilience and durability of impact windows, affirming their capability to protect homes and the people within them from the devastating effects of a hurricane.

Only windows that withstand these harsh conditions without breach or significant damage can be certified as impact-resistant windows. This meticulous testing process is crucial for homeowners seeking reliable storm protection.

Which Homes Need Impact Windows?

In coastal states like Florida and North Carolina, where hurricanes and severe storms are not uncommon, impact windows are a wise investment. In fact, they’re required by local building codes in some coastal areas of Florida.

These robust installations are important not just for beachfront villas but for any structure within storm-prone zones. Impact windows can help ease the mind of the homeowner regardless of whether they’ll ever experience a full-blown hurricane or the potential devastation of a tornado.

What Are the Components of Impact Windows?

Impact windows are not traditional storm windows. Their construction is more sophisticated to ensure they can endure impacts, wind, and provide a protective seal to the house. Here’s what makes impact-resistant windows so resilient:

Double Panes

Impact windows typically consist of an outer and inner layer of glass. The doubled panes of glass add an extra barrier against breakage and penetration.

Internal Polymer Layer

Between the glass panes lies a clear polymer layer that retains glass fragments upon impact, preventing them from scattering.

The Frame

The frame is just as vital as the glass it holds. Steel frames boast strength, while wood frames provide a classic look in addition to durability. Vinyl frames are popular for their affordability, energy efficiency, and ease of maintenance. Like the glass they hold, all frame materials must meet stringent standards to be considered suitable for impact windows.

Windows with large panes of glass are especially vulnerable to the damaging effects of airborne debris and high winds. When choosing vinyl picture window replacements, consider opting for impact windows that can withstand extreme weather conditions.

How Do Impact Windows Protect Homes?

Unlike simple storm windows, which attach separately to the outside of ordinary windows, impact windows provide additional protective benefits. These include:

  • If an outer pane shatters, an internal polymer layer keeps the pieces in place.
  • Impact windows create a seal to prevent sudden changes in air pressure that can blow the roof off a house or cause walls to collapse.
  • Impact windows block UV rays, which can fade furniture and flooring over time.
  • Impact windows deter burglars thanks to their sturdy design.

What Are the Other Benefits of Impact Windows?

Beyond storm protection, impact windows offer additional benefits. When choosing impact windows for your home, consider how the window provides:

  • Energy efficiency: By reducing heat transfer, impact windows can lower energy bills.
  • Durability: Designed to last, these windows resist wear from both weather and time.
  • Noise reduction: The tight seal and robust construction help muffle outdoor noise.
  • Wind resistance: They are tested to withstand forceful winds.
  • Insurance savings: Many insurers offer discounts for homes with impact windows.
  • Building code compliance: Impact windows meet or exceed most local building codes for hurricane protection.

How to Know If Your Home Already Has Impact Windows

Look for markings on the glass indicating compliance with testing standards such as those from the ASTM. Check for a permanent label or etching on the corner of the window glass for assurance.

Impact Window Replacement

Replacing traditional windows with impact-resistant ones represents a significant investment that comes with long-term gains:

  • Less Storm Damage, More Savings: The potential to reduce storm-related repairs can outweigh the initial cost.
  • Energy Savings: Impact windows are made to be energy efficient.
  • May Increase Resale Value: Homes equipped with impact protection can attract higher market values.

North Carolina homeowners residing in the Winston-Salem area and nearby communities can regard installing impact windows as an aspect of home maintenance and protection. Knowing about impact windows can provide the option to gain peace of mind that comes with fortifying your home against the elements.

If you're in the Winston-Salem area and are interested in exploring impact window options for your home, contact Reece Builders to discuss your window replacement needs.

What You Need To Know About Impact-Resistant Windows