South Florida News
What Makes Impact Windows and Doors Different?
The sheer force of hurricane winds can cause catastrophic damage to buildings, trees, power lines, and other elements in and around your home. Factor in flying debris in the form of everything from road signs to roofing materials, and the potential for damage to property and people escalates even higher.
By now, you’re probably aware that impact windows and doors are one of the best ways to protect your home and its inhabitants from the devastating effects of hurricanes. However, you may not know how they work—or what makes them such a critical preventive measure for homeowners.
Here, we’ll take a closer look at what impact resistant windows and doors are, along with key features that differentiate them from regular windows and doors.
What are Impact Windows and Doors?
Often abbreviated to “impact windows and doors,” impact resistant -windows and doors consist of special glass as well as heavy-duty frames.
Not only are impact windows and doors specifically engineered to withstand high winds and impact from flying debris, they also contain a laminated layer of glass that is less likely to shatter into large shards with the potential to become projectiles in and of themselves during storms.
Why are Impact Windows and Doors Better?
To understand more about why impact windows and doors are better than regular windows and doors, it’s helpful to understand the forces they’re designed to withstand—starting with tropical cyclones.
A type of rotating low-pressure weather system, tropical cyclones are categorized according to sustained surface winds:
- Tropical cyclones with maximum sustained wind speeds of less than 39 MPH are called tropical depressions
- Tropical cyclones with maximum sustained wind speeds of greater than 39 MPH are called tropical storms
- Tropical cyclones with maximum sustained wind speeds of more than 74 MPH are hurricanes
Once a tropical cyclone reaches hurricane status, it is given a 1-5 rating on the the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, which also projects property damage.
While Category 3-5 hurricanes are considered “major” hurricanes, all tropical cyclones are potentially life-threatening—both because of high winds and other hazards, including storm surge, rainfall flooding, and tornadoes.
While regular windows are simply not strong enough to combat these threats, impact windows and doors are specifically engineered with this in mind. For this reason, some Florida Business Codes mandate impact-resistant glass in all new construction projects.
Key Features of Impact Windows and Doors
Several features contribute to the superiority of high-performance, impact resistant windows and doors, including the following:
Regular windows are made with a single layer of glass, AKA “monolithic glass,” that shatters into large shards upon impact. On the other hand, hurricane resistant windows with laminated glass consist of two pieces of glass with an interlayer between them. Hurricane resistant windows with laminated insulating glass consist of a piece of laminated glass with a monolithic pane added for insulation.
Typically made of polyvinyl butyral (PVB), this thick interlayer functions as a bonding agent. The end result? Laminated glass structures that remain intact—even when struck with great force.
Furthermore, by remaining intact, impact windows and doors also help maintain the structural integrity of buildings and prevent collapses during severe weather events.
A major factor that sets impact windows and doors apart from standard windows and doors is their ability to withstand high design pressures.
Specifically, these products undergo stringent testing to determine their design pressure (DP) rating, which measures the ability to withstand the various forces exerted on it.
This extraordinary strength ensures that buildings are well-protected during hurricane season, as well as during other extreme weather events.
Speaking of testing, when you invest in high-performance impact resistant windows and doors from an industry leader like CGI, you can do so with the peace of mind that comes with knowing they’ve undergone rigorous assessments to ensure that they not only meet, but exceed industry standards across multiple factors including:
- air infiltration
- water resistance
- structural performance
- forced entry