In this detailed cost guide we walk you through everything you need to do know how much hurricane proof windows cost, the different types of hurricane windows and the pros and cons.
First, starting with the basics.
What are Hurricane Proof Windows?
Hurricane Windows are designed to receive impact, usually caused by severe weather – like a hurricane. The glass used to make these impact resistant is much like the glass found on the windshield of an automobile. Although they are extremely difficult to break, if they do, the glass will resist shattering and break into larger, less dangerous pieces.
Before impact glass was used for homes, it was mostly used to create windshield panels for cars. Auto makers were happy to find an impact resistant material to use during the automobile boom.
How are Hurricane Windows Made?
This protective barrier is made by layering two pieces of tempered glass onto a thin piece of shatterproof material, usually polyvinyl butyral or PVB. Depending on where you live, the glass may have a certain thickness requirement, meaning the manufacturer would layer several more pieces of glass onto the shatter proof layer.
The PVB layer is also available in a range of thicknesses. The thicker the PVB, the stronger the window. Some manufacturers also offer polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a much stronger material (which is reflected in the price). Impact resistant windows are extremely difficult, some would even say impossible, to break.
Who Needs Hurricane Windows?
This is a great investment for anyone living close to the shoreline. Storms, severe wind and hurricanes are a major threat to properties located along coastlines. If you live near the shore and plan to install new windows, you may be required to upgrade to an impact resistant variety. Not all counties have requirements, especially those counties located in more inland areas, but places in Florida like Miami-Dade county, and where I live in the Tampa Bay area, are much more likely to require upgrades when replacing your windows.
Homes like these, located directly on the shore, are sometimes required to upgrade to hurricane windows by the county.
What are the Different Cost Factors?
There are many different cost factors when the time comes for all of your customizations. You’ll need to watch out for the size of the window, the type of frame, the type of glass, style of window, insulation level, and of course labor. Keep in mind how much the energy saving benefits of this investment can save you.
How Does Window Sizing Work?
The biggest cost factor is window size, the bigger the window, the higher the bill. The average window costs about $500, not including labor. Some of the fancier and much larger styles can run upwards of $2000 per window. My parents are currently remodeling their home and were quoted a price around $25000 for all new impact windows and doors. The bill can run steep in the window business, but there are many safety and financial benefits of investing in shatterproof glass.
A large window like this costs more than smaller ones, like those found in bathrooms or kitchens.
What are the Different Frame Material Options?
The frame can be either aluminum or vinyl. Aluminium frames aren’t that much more expensive than vinyl, and seem to be what is recommended for those whose homes may actually be impacted by a storm some day. Vinyl is gaining popularity due to their lower price tag and high levels of energy efficiency. Vinyl adds a lot of insulation which keeps out the hot or cold, and can generously lower the monthly electric bill. If you like what impact windows have to offer but don’t live near the shoreline, consider vinyl frame windows!
Those of you out there who, like me, live 10 minutes from the beach – aluminium frames are your best bet. Although slightly less energy efficient, these most likely STILL offer you much more insulation than you currently have. Ultimately, impact glass is designed to keep those who may experience property damage safe, warm and dry.
What About Glass?
The last major cost factor is the type of glass you choose to use. To make a standard impact window (essentially, laminated glass), you sandwich a piece of shatterproof material in between two pieces of tempered glass. To make insulated laminated glass, manufacturers follow the same process, but add a layer of insulation, by carefully sealing a pocket of air in between the sheets of glass. This feature is generally recommended for those living in much colder climates.
Insulated windows like these can keep harsh weather outside from disturbing the environment in your home.
Are There Different Glass Options?
There are two different types of glass upgrades: low emissivity and glass tint, which are available from most companies. Low emissivity or Low E glass is a type of glass that acts as another layer of insulation. The glass works pretty much like a barrier for the weather conditions outside, be that heat or cold. This feature is appealing to many because it doesn’t limit any natural sunlight from entering the home. The glass absorbs the UV and infrared light from the sun. This allows the inside of your home to LOOK warm and sunny, without that warm and sunny FEELING.
You can also choose to have you glass tinted. Some companies may offer tinting and have a selection of colors to choose from. You can even turn tinting into a DIY project. Tint is safe to apply to impact glass. Don’t worry about breaking the glass, much like you do when tinting glass that is not impact resistant. Some popular tint options include bronze, blue, green and dark grey.
Remember, this will tint the sunlight that enters your home through the windows – so if you choose to tint, make sure you choose an option that really suits your specific taste.
How does Installation Affect the Cost?
Every company seems to have their own specific pricing plans for installation, but you can most likely plan on paying anywhere from $400 – $1200 per window for installation. The total cost of installation can cost as much as $3000 to $10,000. Installation price factors include, how large the home is, how many windows the home has and how large each window is. Although this can be pricey, it’s important to remember that an impact window will only work well, if its been installed well. Installation is definitely an area to consider spending extra time and money researching to find the best option for your home.
Installation of impact windows is just as important as the windows themselves. They structurally support the frame and require advanced installation.
What Different Styles are There?
Impact windows come in a variety of options. Here are some of the more popular styles available:
- Casement Style: Hinges like a door, and swing out and open. Often seen in kitchens, or bathrooms.
- Fixed: Often called picture windows, are made from a large piece of solid glass that cannot be opened. This style is wonderful for entryways, living rooms, great rooms and dining rooms!
- Single Hung: Open from the bottom and slide up. These are suggested for hallways or areas of the home where a lot of movement may be happening since they don’t take up any space swinging in or out.
- Double Hung: Open from the bottom sliding up, or from the top sliding down! These are much like the single hung windows in terms of space and add just a little more customization.
- Sliding Windows: Open horizontally. These are great at making an older home look new, offering a modern flare.
This is a slider window which glides open. There are many different style options when it comes to impact windows.
How Long do Hurricane Windows Last?
Most companies offer a lifetime guarantee, or something similar. Some companies will give you a 25 year guarantee and recommend you get your home inspected after 20 years to make sure there are no issues.
What are the Other Benefits to Hurricane Safe Windows?
Impact glass can offer many different benefits including added safety when it comes to accidental injuries. This benefit is quite possibly priceless. I had a friend in high school who was a ballet dancer. While she was practicing one afternoon, she fell backwards through her family’s sliding glass door and landed herself in the emergency room. Her injuries kept her out of the dance studio for the next few years and she found herself in a wheelchair for a couple of months. Accidents happen, maybe impact glass can make them happen a little less.
This training video is used to demonstrate the indestructible properties of impact windows.
Aside from the extreme safety benefits, impact glass has a few other benefits that are definitely worth mentioning
- Noise Reduction: Much like they help to insulate your home from harsh weather outside, they also help to keep noise outside. If you live in a big city, near a busy road, or maybe even a train track, consider hurricane windows to help keep the inside of your home comfy and quiet.
- Bullet Proof: Custom glass thicknesses can make your windows bullet resistant, and even protect you from a bomb blast. Forget the bunker, who needs it when you have a practically indestructible home?
- Intruder Safe: Hurricane windows basically make your home burglar proof, or at least as close to it as you can get. Impact glass is VERY difficult to break. Even if an intruder were able to shatter the glass, the webbing effect would keep them from removing the glass and gaining entry to your home.
Impact windows can shatter, but will still stay structurally intact after breaking. Another great safety benefit during storm season.
What is the History of Impact Windows?
Impact windows are a relatively new use of impact resistant glass, which has been around for over 100 years. Impact glass was an accidental discovery made after a scientist unknowingly coated a piece of glass in melted down plastic. This discovery was first used to make protective gas masks for World War I. People caught on to just how much this glass was capable of, and it gained popularity quickly, being used to make windshields for vehicles throughout the early 1900s.
In 1992, Florida was ravaged by Hurricane Andrew, the second most costly hurricane in the US. South Florida was hit especially hard – with 65 deaths and over 20 billion dollars in property damage, much of which was structural. After learning this information, Miami – Dade County was quick to respond to this tragedy, and updated its code requirements to include impact safe structures in 1994.
Hurricane Andrew was a category 5 hurricane, that ripped through florida at speeds up to 174 MPH.
As someone who has lived much of their life along the coast of Florida, I can say with confidence that hurricane windows can be a great investment – for those who are seeking to protect their homes from storms, especially – but also for those who are looking to protect their families, their pets, and themselves- in general. Even if you don’t live on a coastline, or in a place with harsh or severe weather, hurricane windows can offer you protection from accidents, intruders, unpredictable weather and outrageous electric bills. Our homes are where we go to feel safe and secure. Impact windows can help to achieve just that. They are strong, durable and guaranteed to contribute to the safety and wellbeing of everything you keep inside.
Impact windows help keep your home warm, safe and cozy.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.