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What Makes an Impact, Hurricane-Resistant Window Different from a Traditional Window

Posted by Jimmy Hawley on Sep 15, 2020 3:04:00 PM

If you’re thinking about making the switch from traditional windows to hurricane-safe glass, it’s important to understand what exactly gives a hurricane window its impressive title. 

What exactly sets it apart from standard glass? How can you be sure you’re purchasing the right windows for your home?


Typically, hurricane windows have two things to thank for their rating: their superior quality glass and their reinforced framing. Let’s break down each to help you look for the right impact window for your Florida home:

1. Impact-Resistant Glass

Impact-resistant windows are often made of both tempered and laminated glass:

Tempered Glass

This type of glass is heat-treated, meaning that when it cools, the surface and edges of the glass become compressed. The compression helps to make tempered glass about 5-10 times stronger than traditional glass.

Tempered glass is considered an impact-resistant, storm-safe option not only because of its added strength, but also because when it does shatter, it breaks into small pebbles without sharp edges. This reduces the chance of injury from flinging glass or during clean-up. 

Laminated / PVB Glass 

Laminated glass is created by bonding together two or more panes of glass with a thin layer of film or vinyl in between, called Polyvinyl Butyral (PVB). This shatter-proof membrane is designed to catch broken glass, allowing it to stick like a fly on sticky paper. When the glass suffers an impact due to debris, the outer pane may shatter, but this inner layer holds the pieces together so the barrier isn’t penetrated. This means the glass may crack, but will not expose your home to wind and water. 

In contrast, standard glass windows are made out of traditional float glass that will break into large, sharp shards upon impact.


Leak Window

SPG Glass

Some laminated windows include Sentry Glass Plus (SGP). SGP is similar in construction to PVB in that a membrane is inserted in between panes of glass. However, SGP involves interlayers that are five times stronger and considerably stiffer than the laminate material that’s used in PVB construction. The result is a window that protects against extreme wind and impact from debris.

In addition, the material used to construct SGP impact-resistant windows is clearer than the inner membrane of PVB, which tends to be cloudier— especially after extended wear and tear. SGP windows maintain their ult

ra-clear qualities even after years of service, so they’re often worth the extra financial investment. Because of this added clarity, this type of impact-resistant window is often used for commercial applications and is more suitable for larger windows.

2. Heavy-Duty Framing

Even the strongest glass is only as good as the framing that holds it into place. If a high-impact force can knock it out of its fitting, then rain, wind, and debris will enter through the frame space. In extreme cases, your entire window could be pushed through, letting Mother Nature directly into your home mid-storm.

Hurricane-resistant windows have frames that are made from higher-strength materials like aluminum or vinyl. Additionally, the impact glass is treated to a special silicone glazing process to keep the glass from breaking away from its frame.

Not only is the frame made from studier materials and affixed better to its glass, it’s also thicker. You can typically expect your storm windows to have a minimum frame depth of 2-3/4 inches with a minimal nominal wall thickness of .062, which aids the system in withstanding strong winds.

Look for the Notice of Acceptance

Different areas require different levels of protection. When shopping for storm-resistant impact windows in Florida, look for a manufacturer with documented NOAs (Notice of Acceptance by Miami-Dade County) for their products.

Other Important Impact Window Features

While storm-resistant windows need extra strong glass and heavy-duty frames to get their hurricane approval rating, there are a number of features you can customize, including:

  • Insulation properties or heat-reducing glass tints
  • Hi-performance, low-E selections
  • Etc.

Curious to learn more about low-emissivity, solar radiation, and other technical terms that could help in choosing ENERGY STAR-efficient impact windows? 

Download our free 12 Things You Need to Know About Impact Windows guide. 

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Not Sure if You Have Hurricane-Proof Windows? Request a Free Inspection

Did you recently move into a new home? Or perhaps you live in an older home in Southwest Florida and are looking to upgrade your storm protection? 

Have your windows inspected by our team to assess if they’re storm-safe solutions. Even if they are, a professional window inspection is a valuable resource to double-check the quality of your windows, and alert you to any repair issues that could become problematic down the road.

Give us a call at 239-205-3193 or fill out this form to request a window inspection, today. 

Topics: Impact Windows

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