HomeownerHelpful Info: Home Improvement

Impact Windows & Doors

Impact Windows & Doors Educational Content

ADVANTAGES
Hurricane protection. High winds from hurricanes and other strong storms can cause catastrophic damage to your home and pose a serious threat to your safety. Impact windows and doors are designed to prevent glass from shattering into dangerous shards. This gives you peace of mind if a major storm appears in the forecast.

Energy efficiency. Almost one-third of all residential energy loss occurs through windows and doors. The worst culprits are old windows, which are often drafty. Doors that aren’t well insulated can also let air out. Impact-resistant windows and doors offer better insulation than conventional windows and doors. You can expect to see significant savings on your heating and cooling costs.

Attractive design. Impact windows and doors come in different styles and colors.

Reduced light and sound transmission. Standard windows and doors don’t block as much noise and UV light as impact windows and doors. The laminated glass used in impact windows and doors can block 98 percent of damaging UV light that normally enters your home. This will help reduce fading of furniture and artwork.

IMPACT WINDOW MATERIALS
Vinyl windows never need painting and are almost maintenance-free. They offer good insulation and are cost effective. They come in a wide range of designs and colors.

Aluminum windows are strong and resistant to impact. They are also less likely to warp from temperature variations than wood and vinyl. Aluminum can be painted and requires little regular maintenance.

Wood windows are elegant and attractive and come in many styles. Prices vary pretty widely, depending on quality and design. Wood can be stained or painted to match your house. However, wood absorbs water. If it’s neglected and isn’t sealed, wood can rot. Wood windows need regular maintenance to look their best.

IMPACT GLASS OPTIONS
Laminated glass. Impact windows are made from laminated glass. This feature eliminates the need for multiple glass panes in one window for energy efficiency. Light and sound reduction levels are similar to multipane standard windows. Laminated glass has two panes of glass with a middle layer of strong, clear plastic. This middle layer strengthens the glass and ensures that if the glass does break, it will not shatter. Rather, impact glass cracks in a spiderweb shape and will not fall out of the window frame.

Insulated laminated glass. For even more energy efficiency, insulated impact windows use an extra pane of glass to create an insulating vacuum. This space is filled with either air or an inert gas, such as argon. Insulated impact windows are more expensive than other options, but the energy savings over time can help offset the initial cost.

Special coatings. Special coatings can be applied to the glass pane during manufacturing to increase a window’s efficiency. Low-emissivity glass (or Low-E glass) reflects infrared heat. In the summer, it helps keep the heat out. In the winter, it helps keep the heat in.

Tinted and reflective windows. Tints, films, and reflective coatings increase the energy efficiency of your windows. They do this by reducing heat and light transfer.

IMPACT DOOR MATERIALS
Wood impact doors are visually appealing. They’re also good at suppressing outside noise and can be trimmed to fit an existing door frame. They will not rust and are available in any number of interesting designs. Wood impact doors are usually made from exotic, dense hardwoods. These dense hardwoods naturally resist moisture and deterioration. However, wood doors are heavy and tend to sag over time. They are also prone to warping with temperature changes. Wood impact doors need periodic maintenance to sustain their beauty and functionality. If you choose a wood door, make sure it is a solid wood or solid core door.

Aluminum impact doors are a low-maintenance option for protecting your home against storm damage. Aluminum doors come in a wide variety of styles and finishes, including anodized solid colors and wood grain.

Steel impact doors are filled with polyurethane foam and can have an insulation value of up to R-15. They are inexpensive, easy to maintain, and great at blocking heat. Steel doors are also very strong, so they’re a great option for a front door. One of the disadvantages of steel doors is that they cannot be trimmed to fit an existing door frame. The door frame must be perfectly plumb for the door to fit correctly.

Fiberglass impact doors are another low-maintenance option. Fiberglass doors can have the look and feel of a wood door, but they also come in many other designs. They’re easy to paint or stain. A fiberglass door offers up to four times the insulating ability of a wood door. Fiberglass will not crack, warp, or rot over time. Some fiberglass impact doors have an internal steel plate for extra strength and protection.

WHY HIRE A PROFESSIONAL?
Installing impact windows and doors is a job for the experts. Windows and doors must be installed square and level. They also have to be load-free, which means that they should not support the weight of the wall above them. When impact windows and doors are not properly installed, they are likely to be drafty. Improper installation can also make the windows and doors less effective against high winds and flying debris.

Impact windows and doors add value to your house, especially in areas that are prone to strong storms and hurricanes. But if they’re drafty and poorly installed, your new impact windows and doors will lose much of their value. A capable and qualified contractor is vital to a good installation. It’s also important for the future, if you run into any issues or want to upgrade. Years after the initial installation, a reputable contractor will likely still be in business and available to help.