For homeowners in storm-prone coastal regions, protecting windows from high winds and debris during hurricanes is a key concern. Two popular options to strengthen windows against impact are impact-resistant glass and hurricane shutters. But how do you choose between impact windows vs shutters? This guide compares the pros and cons of each method.
What are Impact Windows?
Impact windows, also called impact-resistant or reinforced windows, are made of specialized glass engineered to withstand forceful blows from flying debris in hurricanes, tornadoes and other extreme weather.
There are a few types of impact glass:
- Laminated glass has a strong interlayer bonding multiple sheets together.
- Tempered glass is heat-treated for increased strength.
- Polycarbonate shatterproof plastic layers also provide impact protection.
Some impact windows combine these technologies. Compared to normal glass, impact windows can absorb significantly more blunt force before cracking or shattering.
Benefits of Impact Windows
Unlike shutters which must be manually installed before a storm, impact windows offer full-time protection. This saves time preparing each time threatening weather looms.
The reinforced glass deters smash-and-grab break-ins better than ordinary windows. Impact windows act as barriers when shuttered homes signal no one is home. That’s why the impact windows cost is always higher than the other windows.
Some impact windows incorporate insulated glass to improve thermal performance and reduce heating/cooling costs.
Impact glass maintains visibility and natural light visually better than shutters. Impact windows look like standard windows for curb appeal.
What are Hurricane Shutters?
Hurricane shutters are protective covers installed over existing doors and windows prior to a storm’s arrival. Common types are:
- Accordion shutters
- Roll-down shutters
- Panel shutters
- Impact screens
Shutters are made of aluminum, steel or polycarbonate and can be opened or detached once the storm passes. Manual and electric shutter options exist.
Benefits of Hurricane Shutters
Hurricane shutters have lower upfront costs than impact window replacement. Temporary shutter installation averages just $10-25 per square foot.
Shutters can be swapped onto different homes if you move. Impact windows are a permanent, built-in upgrade.
Various shutter types provide different durability, noise reduction, light blocking and security levels to suit needs. To find more information about the shutter ideas and material choice visit this website.
Shutters readily install over existing windows. Impact window installation may require structural framing changes.
Downsides of Shutters
- Time consuming installation/removal for each storm
- Block natural light when closed
- Can create a closed-in feeling if always installed
- Permit and inspection requirements in some areas
- Manual operation only works when home occupants are present
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Which provides better protection from debris – impact windows or shutters?
Impact windows provide continuous protection and can withstand repeated blows. Shutters must be manually installed each time and may fail after extensive damage.
Do impact windows reduce noise from storms?
Yes, laminated impact glass helps dampen loud winds and weather noise. Shutters also muffle storm sounds when closed.
Can impact windows qualify my home for insurance discounts?
Most insurers offer premium reductions for installing either certified impact windows or hurricane shutters. Check with your provider.
How often do hurricane shutters need maintenance?
Shutters should be inspected annually, checking for loose screws, damaged panels, and corrosion.
Do impact windows help keep my home cooler?
Impact windows with insulated glass help reduce heat gain and lower AC costs. Non-insulated impact panes don’t offer cooling benefits.
What are the most affordable hurricane shutter options?
Accordion shutters offer the lowest installation costs at around $10 per square foot. Roll down shutters cost slightly more but are very convenient.
Can I install impact windows in a condo or apartment?
You’ll need approval from the homeowners association or building owner first. Impact windows may not match existing windows so could be prohibited.
Ultimately, location and budget determine whether hurricane impact windows or shutters make the best choice. If you reside in regions with frequent major hurricanes, impact windows provide set-it-and-forget-it protection and visibility.
In areas with occasional storms, easy-to-deploy shutters offer a more affordable option for window defense. Consult local building codes and insurance discounts to make the optimal decision for your home. And stay safe through storm season!