What You Should Know About Protecting Your Home With Impact Windows

If you plan to install new windows in your home, you should think about getting impact windows for greater security. These windows are ideal if you live in an area prone to hurricanes or tornadoes. They are also suitable for increasing home security if you want to make it more difficult for someone to break in your house. They are called impact or impact-resistant windows because they can withstand the impact of wind driven debris being hurled against the glass. Here are a few things you should know.

Glass Doesn't Shatter

Impact windows are very similar to the windshield in your car. If the glass breaks, it doesn't shatter and send shards flying through your home. Instead, the glass may crack, but it clings together because of film between the panes of glass. This protects the inside of your home from flying glass, and it also keeps wind from rushing inside.

A sudden rush of hurricane-strength wind in your home can create a pressure change that destabilizes the structure of your house. That could lead to walls failing and your roof collapsing. For that reason, some areas of the country have enacted building codes that require hurricane shutters or impact windows on new construction homes. If you're installing new windows anyway, it's a good time to upgrade to windows that provide superior protection to your home.

How They're Made

These windows utilize a strong transparent film that's nearly impossible to tear or rip. The film is sandwiched between two layers of glass, which gives the glass added strength. Some manufacturers also glaze the glass, which means it is subjected to high temperatures to make it stronger. Impact windows come at different price points depending on the thickness of the protective film and other features. Just like traditional windows, impact windows have varying degrees of energy efficiency depending on how they're made. You'll get the same choice of features when it comes to color shading, multiple panes for insulation, UV blocking, and frame materials.

These windows are made with aluminum, wood, and vinyl frames. However, the frames have added support built in so they are stronger. You can't just put new impact glass in an old window frame, because strong winds can blow a traditional frame out of its opening. To be truly effective, impact windows need strong glass, sturdy frames, and proper installation to ensure the windows can't be knocked out.  

How Strong They Are

Good impact windows can withstand hurricane-strength winds as well as an intruder hitting the glass with a baseball bat. The glass has to pass testing standards to be certified as impact-resistant. There are tests for large objects and small objects that simulate debris being hurled against the window. For the tests, the objects are shot out of a cannon and aimed at the window.

One test shoots a wood beam at the glass. To pass the test, the window has to be intact after being hit by a 2x4 piece of lumber that's six feet long flying at 50 feet per second. The other test uses ball bearings and simulates the effect of small objects hurling against the glass at 50 miles per hour.

Besides giving you peace of mind because of the security they provide, installing impact windows has other benefits. The windows increase the value of your home, and they are a selling point, especially if you live in a hurricane region. Also, you may get a discount on your home insurance rates by upgrading your home with safer windows.