Impact Window Buying Guide: Best Hurricane-Proof Options & Installation Tips

Article-at-a-Glance: Hurricane-Proof Your Home

  • Hurricane impact windows are essential for protecting homes in storm-prone regions.

  • Choosing the correct type of impact window material, like laminated glass, offers superior protection.

  • Impact window ratings, including Design Pressure (DP) and Missile Test standards, are critical for safety.

  • Professional installation is crucial for the windows to function effectively.

  • Investing in quality impact windows can lead to long-term savings through energy efficiency and insurance discounts.

Why Impact Windows Matter for Home Safety

When the winds howl and the rain pounds, the last thing you want to worry about is whether your windows will hold up against a hurricane. That's why impact windows are more than just a smart choice—they're your home's shield against nature's fury. They're designed to withstand violent storms, keeping you and your family safe from the dangers of flying debris.

Protection Against Violent Storms

Imagine a baseball hurtling toward your window at 50 miles per hour. Now, think of that same force amplified by a hurricane. Standard windows don't stand a chance. But hurricane impact windows? They're built to take the hit. With strong, reinforced frames and laminated glass, they maintain their integrity, so that wild pitch doesn't end up in your living room.

Energy Efficiency and Noise Reduction Benefits

Besides keeping you safe, these windows are also a boon for your energy bills and peace of mind. Their insulation properties keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, leading to less reliance on your HVAC system. And let's not forget the noise reduction. Living near a busy street or noisy neighborhood can disrupt your tranquility. Impact windows muffle those outside sounds, so you can enjoy the quiet comfort of your home.

Assessing Your Home's Vulnerability to Hurricanes

Evaluating Location and Potential Weather Threats

First things first, you need to understand your risk. If your home is anywhere near the coast or in a region prone to hurricanes, it's not a matter of if, but when, you'll face a severe storm. Assess your home's location and the typical weather patterns. This will help you determine the level of protection you need. The closer you are to the coast, the stronger your impact windows should be.

Considerations for Window-Facing Directions

Not all sides of your home face equal danger. Windows facing the direction of prevailing winds or those on the upper floors may be more vulnerable. Pay attention to these details when choosing where to install impact windows. They could be the difference between a close call and a catastrophe.

Selecting the Right Impact Window Material

Comparison of Glass Types

When it comes to impact windows, not all glass is created equal. Here's a quick comparison:

Type of Glass



Laminated Glass

High impact resistance, UV protection, sound insulation

More expensive than other types

Tempered Glass

Breaks into small, less harmful pieces

Less impact resistance than laminated glass

Insulated Glass

Good for energy efficiency

May not offer enough protection for hurricane-prone areas

Most importantly, laminated glass is the top choice for hurricane impact windows. It's composed of two sheets of glass with a tough plastic interlayer. Even if the glass breaks, this interlayer holds the pieces in place, preventing them from entering your home.

Explaining Design Pressure (DP) Ratings

Design Pressure (DP) ratings are like the report card for your windows. They tell you how much wind and pressure the window can handle before it gives in. A higher DP rating means the window can withstand more pressure, which is crucial in hurricane zones. You'll want to look for windows with a DP rating that meets or exceeds the requirements for your area's wind zone.

The Importance of Missile Test Standards

Missile test standards are just what they sound like – they test to see if the window can stand up to flying objects, like tree branches or street signs, during a storm. The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) sets these standards, and you'll want to make sure the impact windows you choose have passed these tests. It's all about keeping you safe when things start flying.

Installation Must-Dos and Common Mistakes

Getting the right windows is only half the battle; installing them correctly is the other. A poorly installed window won't give you the protection you need. Ensure that your contractor uses the correct sealants, and fasteners, and follows the manufacturer's guidelines. Common mistakes include using the wrong sealant, which can fail under pressure, or incorrect fastening, which can weaken the window's hold.

Preparing for Professional Installation

Before the professionals arrive, do a little prep work. Clear the area around the windows and move any fragile items out of the way. This gives the installers a clean workspace and helps prevent any accidental damage to your belongings. Also, make sure you have a clear understanding of the installation timeline and process, so you can plan accordingly.

DIY Versus Professional Installation: Pros and Cons

While it might be tempting to save some cash and install the windows yourself, consider the risks. DIY installation can void warranties and, more importantly, can lead to errors that compromise the window's performance. Professional installers bring expertise and the right tools to the job, ensuring your windows are installed to withstand a hurricane's wrath.

Choosing a Reputable Impact Window Installer

  • Look for companies with strong warranties that back their work.

  • Check for positive reviews and testimonials from previous customers.

  • Ensure they have experience specifically with hurricane impact windows.

Once you've found a few potential installers, vet them thoroughly. A reputable installer will have no problem providing references and proof of insurance. They should also be licensed and certified to install the specific windows you've chosen. Remember, this is about the safety of your home; it's worth taking the time to find the best.

Questions to Ask Potential Installers

When you're talking to installers, ask about their experience with impact windows. Find out how long they've been in business and ask to see examples of their work. You'll also want to know about their process, including how they handle unexpected issues that may arise during installation. Good communication is key to a successful installation.

Key Credentials to Look For

Credentials matter when it comes to installation. Look for installers who are AAMA (American Architectural Manufacturers Association) certified, which means they've been trained on the best installation practices. Also, check if they're part of any professional associations, like the National Glass Association, which can indicate a commitment to their craft.

Making the Investment: Cost Versus Long-Term Savings

Impact windows are an investment, but they're one that pays off. The upfront costs can be steep, but when you factor in the potential energy savings, insurance discounts, and increased home value, the long-term benefits are clear. Not to mention, the peace of mind knowing your home is protected is priceless.

Understanding the Upfront Costs

So, how much will this set you back? Impact windows can range from $40 to $55 per square foot, including installation. The price varies based on the size of your windows, the type of glass, and the complexity of the installation. While it's not cheap, remember that these windows are a one-time investment that can last for decades.

Don't forget to factor in the costs of any additional features you may want, like tinting or custom frames. These extras can add up, but they also add value to your home and increase the functionality of your windows.

It's also worth noting that some areas offer rebates or incentives for installing impact windows, so check with your local government and utility companies to see if you can offset some of the cost.

Calculating Potential Insurance Discounts and Energy Savings

Insurance companies love anything that reduces risk, and impact windows do just that. Installing them can lead to discounts on your homeowner's insurance, sometimes up to 45%. As for energy savings, you can expect to save up to 30% on your energy bills thanks to the improved insulation impact windows provide. Over time, those savings can really add up.

Maintenance and Upkeep of Impact Windows

Maintaining your impact windows is straightforward. Regular cleaning with mild soap and water will keep them looking good and functioning well. Inspect the seals and tracks periodically to ensure they're free of debris and functioning properly. If you live in a salty air environment, like near the ocean, you'll need to clean them more frequently to prevent corrosion.

Understanding the Upfront Costs

Impact windows come with a price tag, but it's important to look at them as an investment in your home's safety and value. Typically, you can expect to pay between $40 and $55 per square foot for impact windows, which includes both the cost of the windows themselves and their installation. The final cost will vary depending on factors like the size and number of windows you need, the specific type of impact window you choose, and the complexity of the installation in your home.

Calculating Potential Insurance Discounts and Energy Savings

While the initial cost of impact windows can be significant, the long-term savings are hard to ignore. Insurance companies often offer discounts on homeowners' policies for houses equipped with impact windows, as they significantly reduce the risk of damage during storms. These discounts can be substantial, sometimes up to 45%. Additionally, the energy efficiency of impact windows can lead to savings of up to 30% on your energy bills, as they help maintain a consistent indoor temperature, reducing the strain on your heating and cooling systems.

Dealing with Damage: When to Repair or Replace

Impact windows are incredibly resilient, but they're not indestructible. If you notice a crack or chip in the glass, it's essential to deal with it promptly. Small cracks can sometimes be repaired, but larger damage often requires the glass to be replaced. Always consult with a professional to determine the best course of action. Remember, the integrity of your impact window is vital for it to perform correctly during a storm.


How Long Do Impact Windows Last?

When properly maintained, impact windows can last for decades. Most come with warranties that last anywhere from 10 to 25 years, which is a testament to their durability. However, the lifespan of your impact windows can be affected by factors like the quality of installation, the level of maintenance, and exposure to harsh environmental conditions.

Are Impact Windows Burglar-Proof?

While no window can be considered completely burglar-proof, impact windows offer a higher level of security than standard windows. The laminated glass used in impact windows is designed to resist shattering, which can deter burglars and make break-ins more difficult. However, it's important to complement your impact windows with other home security measures for the best protection.

Impact windows can also contribute to a safer home environment by:

  • Providing strong resistance to forced entry attempts.

  • Eliminating the need for unsightly bars or grills on windows.

  • Increasing the time it takes for a potential intruder to gain access, can be a deterrent.

Can Impact Windows Be Customized for Aesthetics?

Yes, impact windows can be customized to fit the aesthetic of your home. Manufacturers offer a range of styles, from traditional to modern, and can often create windows in custom shapes and sizes. You can also choose from different frame materials and finishes to match your home's design. The ability to customize your impact windows means you don't have to sacrifice style for safety.

What Happens if an Impact Window Cracks?

If an impact window cracks, it's designed to hold its pieces in place, thanks to the interlayer between the glass sheets. This prevents the window from shattering and causing potential harm or allowing debris to enter your home. However, if a crack occurs, it's important to have the window assessed by a professional as soon as possible to determine if it needs to be repaired or replaced to maintain its protective qualities.

Do Impact Windows Qualify for Green Energy Tax Credits?

Impact windows can qualify for green energy tax credits as they contribute to the energy efficiency of your home. These credits are part of government initiatives to encourage homeowners to make energy-efficient upgrades. To take advantage of these credits, ensure that the impact windows you choose meet the specific criteria set by the government for energy efficiency.