As the name implies, impact resistant windows are windows that are specifically designed to withstand blunt force impacts. They accomplish this feat by differing from their more traditional counterparts in a couple of very distinct ways. The first is the glass itself, which is laminated. An impact resistant window contains two sheets of specially treated glass with an interlayer of thin plastic film sandwiched between them. This creates redundancy in the sense that if the treated glass happens to break, the plastic membrane will prevent it from shattering, thus maintaining the window’s integrity. Many of you are already familiar with this concept as it’s very similar to that of the windshield in your vehicle.
Secondly, the frames of impact resistant windows are much more robust than regular units and are usually made from heavy-duty vinyl, metal or some other equivalent material. They are also subject to a unique glazing process which minimizes the risk of the glass separating from the frame in the event of a high velocity impact or gust of wind. The frames too are anchored to the window opening by means of bolts or other such ingenuities. A far cry from the handful of nails and the bead of caulking that a typical window will receive.
While there are many different ways in which impact resistant windows can be advantageous to homeowners, you’ll get more bang for your buck if you live in a hurricane-prone area or in a place where high winds are just a seemingly ubiquitous fact of life.
A long held convention in the world of storm awareness was that high winds alone were responsible for wreaking havoc on most traditional window types. However subsequent studies (and a smattering of common sense) have shown that many window breakages are in fact caused by impacts from airborne debris that gets kicked up and hurled about by high velocity winds. So if you live in a high risk area, having impact resistant windows installed could be a veritable godsend. Not only do they look identical to regular windows, but they also eliminate the need to effectively “board up” before the storm.
One downside to impact resistant variants is that they typically cost about 50% more than standard windows. Yet being designed to maintain integrity under intense air pressure as well, your home has a better chance of surviving a storm if you have them installed. Many houses lose their roofs as a result of windows being breached. This creates an increase of pressure inside the home that when combined with outside forces can rip the roof clean off. So in the end the extra price might be well worth it.
Protecting your home against children at play and potential robberies are also legitimate considerations for having impact resistant windows installed. Stray baseballs and would-be burglars will no doubt have a difficult time finding their way inside.