Is There A Difference Between Hurricane Windows And Impact Windows?

By Published On: December 28, 2023Categories: Impact Windows
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In regions like Florida, where hurricanes are a common occurrence, it is crucial for homeowners to invest in windows that can withstand the destructive forces of these powerful storms. Two popular options available in the market are hurricane windows and impact windows. While they may seem similar at first glance, there are distinct differences between them that you should be aware of when considering your window protection needs. To help you make an informed decision, this article will explore the disparities between hurricane and impact windows.

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What are Hurricane Windows?

Hurricane windows are specifically designed to withstand the high winds and debris that can result from hurricanes or intense storms. They have the following distinctive features:

  • Impact-resistant glass: Hurricane windows are made with laminated or reinforced impact-resistant glass engineered to endure high winds and heavy impacts. This specialized glass consists of two layers of tempered glass bonded together by a layer of polyvinyl butyral (PVB) laminate, which holds the shattered pieces in place upon impact.
  • Structural reinforcement: Besides their robust glazing, hurricane windows often feature reinforced frames and sashes that can resist extreme force without bending or breaking.
  • Multiple layers: Some manufacturers offer multiple-layered window systems for added strength and protection against hurricanes. These systems may include features like interlayers between the panes, additional internal support structures within each pane, or combinations thereof.
  • Wind pressure resistance: Hurricane windows are made not only to withstand the impact of debris but also to resist the powerful force generated by high winds. They undergo rigorous testing to ensure they can endure wind speeds as specified in industry standards.

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What are Impact Windows?

Impact windows, on the other hand, are specifically tested and certified for their ability to resist impacts caused by flying objects or extreme weather conditions. While they share some similarities with hurricane windows due to their durability features, there are notable differences:

  • Impact resistance level variability: Unlike hurricane windows, which have standardized certifications based on predetermined levels (such as Miami-Dade County’s product approval requirements), impact window ratings may vary depending on manufacturers’ specifications.
  • Varying strength against other elements: While the primary purpose of hurricane windows is to withstand high winds and flying debris, impacted windows may be tested for resistance against other destructive forces, such as hailstorms or severe weather conditions.
  • Cost differences: Due to the variations in design specifications and certifications, impact windows can have a wider cost range than hurricane-specific ones. The level of impact protection required by an area’s building code should guide homeowners’ choices accordingly.

Pros and Cons of Hurricane Windows

There are several advantages to installing hurricane windows in your home. First, in addition to their impact resistance features, these windows also provide an additional layer of security against break-ins or intruders. This can give homeowners peace of mind, knowing that their property is safe.

Moreover, hurricane windows can improve energy efficiency by reducing the transfer of heat and cold air through their insulated frames and multiple layers of glazing. These features help maintain a stable indoor temperature year-round and lower heating or cooling costs.

Using hurricane windows may entitle homeowners to insurance premium discounts by demonstrating proactive measures for protecting their homes from potential storm damage. Many insurance providers offer such incentives as these window installations reduce risks associated with hurricanes.

However, there are a few drawbacks to consider as well. One significant disadvantage is the higher cost associated with hurricane windows compared to standard windows. The additional materials, testing, and certifications required for these specialized products contribute to their elevated price point.

Pros and Cons of Impact Windows

Impact windows have various advantages, including their flexibility in impact resistance levels. This allows homeowners to choose a level impact that suits their location, budget, and other considerations relevant to local building codes or insurance requirements.

In terms of cost, impact windows could be a more affordable alternative than hurricane-specific solutions. That is because they are not subjected exclusively to rigorous hurricane testing protocols that certify against wind pressures. However, this doesn’t mean that impact windows are less durable or effective in protecting against extreme weather conditions.

Additionally, impact windows have enhanced security benefits similar to those provided by hurricane windows. Their reinforced glass and sturdy frames act as both deterrents against break-ins and barriers against potential forced entry attempts.

Homeowners looking to install these windows should consider consulting a professional to help them select products that meet relevant local building codes.

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Factors to Consider When Choosing Between the Two

When deciding between hurricane windows and impact windows, consider several factors, including the following:


Before making a decision, assess the risks associated with your region’s weather conditions, such as the frequency of hurricanes or other severe storms. If you live in an area prone to frequent strong winds or have experienced significant storm damage in the past, investing in hurricane-specific windows may be more suitable. Conversely, if you are concerned about other potential impact risks like hailstorms and vandalizing environments, impacted windows may be a more practical option.

Building Codes and Insurance Requirements

It is crucial to familiarize yourself with your local building codes and any insurance policies that require specific window protection standards. Some areas, for example,  might mandate hurricane-specific certifications for residential properties in high-risk zones.

Budget Considerations

Hurricane windows generally come at a higher price due to their rigorous testing procedures and specialized materials. If budget constraints are an important factor for you, consider the cost-effectiveness of impacted windows while ensuring they meet relevant impact resistance standards required by local building regulations.

Aesthetic Preferences

Assessing the design and appearance of both window types is vital to ensure you choose one that aligns with your aesthetic preferences. Hurricane windows may come in various styles, but their impact-resistant features might make them slightly bulkier than standard windows. On the other hand, impacted windows are available in different design options, allowing you to find a choice that best matches your home’s architectural style.

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The Importance of Professional Guidance When Choosing Windows

Consulting with reputable contractors or window experts can ensure you make an informed choice based on your specific needs and location requirements. These professionals can assess factors such as wind speeds in your area, local building codes, insurance specifications, and architectural considerations to guide your options. They have experience working with various products and manufacturers while considering both performance and cost-effectiveness.

When looking for professional assistance, consider factors such as:

  • Reputation: Look for contractors or window experts with a proven track record of providing quality products and services in the industry.
  • Certification and compliance: Ensure the professional you choose is licensed, certified, and knowledgeable about local building codes and regulations.
  • References and reviews: Check customer reviews or ask for references to get an idea of their previous work and client satisfaction levels.

Get Quality Impact Windows in Florida

If you are looking to install impact windows in Florida, you need to consult a reputable and experienced company like STS Impact Window and Doors. We have high-quality windows with comprehensive protection against impacts, storms, and other severe weather conditions.

Our team consists of skilled experts who can guide you in finding a solution that meets your needs and local building codes. Contact us today for more information about how impacted windows can safeguard your home while enhancing its aesthetic appeal.


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