What are the best impact hurricane windows and doors for my home?
As a Miami homeowner, you know all too well the threats hurricanes and severe storms pose. When forecasters predict an impending hurricane, there’s barely time to shutter up, stock supplies, and evacuate if necessary. That’s why smart homeowners take proactive steps before hurricane season to safeguard their properties with advanced impact-resistant windows and doors.
But with so many options out there, how do you choose the right impact-rated products for your home and budget? This guide from the window and door replacement experts at Patriot Windows and Doors will demystify the selection process. Read on to learn how high-performance windows and doors can protect what matters most – your family and home.
How Impact Products Protect Your Property
Before we dive into product selection, let’s review how impact windows and doors provide critical lines of defense against hurricane forces:
- Impact-Rated Glass – Multiple layers of laminated or insulated glass behave like a safety net, retaining shards if fractured while preventing debris penetration.
- Reinforced Frames – Robust composite materials like fiberglass, vinyl, and reinforced aluminum resist the pummeling forces of high velocity winds.
- Structural Anchors – Strong mounting assemblies keep the frame anchored to the underlying structure to prevent blow out or dislodgement.
- Multi-Point Locks – Heavy-duty locks compressed against reinforced strike plates prevent forced entry by intruders during a storm.
- Wind and Water Seals – High-density weatherstripping blocks driving rain from infiltrating the frames even under extreme wind loads.
Impact windows and doors are rigorously tested to emulate worst-case hurricane conditions of winds over 175 miles per hour, large debris strikes, and structural stresses. Products certified to AAMA, ASTM, and stringent Miami-Dade standards provide proven hurricane protection.
Types of Impact Windows and Doors
Now let’s explore some specific impact-resistant product types to consider:
- Casement – Hinged on the side and open outward. Provide full ventilation when needed. Aluminum or vinyl frames.
- Double Hung – Upper and lower sashes slide vertically in tracks. Fiberglass frames limit thermal transfer.
- Fixed Picture – Non-operable windows ideal for unique shapes like angles and arches. Feature heavy-duty aluminum framing.
- Bahama/Hopper – Outward opening bottom sash over a fixed top pane. Excellent ventilation control.
- Sliding – Panes glide horizontally for easy opening. Available in 2, 3, or 4-lite configurations.
- Specialty Shapes – Curved, angular, round, and custom windows available to match unique openings.
- French – Paired doors with symmetrical operating astragals create grand entrances. Add matching sidelights.
- Swing – Outswing and inswing styles with various panel configurations. Fiberglass and aluminum frames.
- Sliding Patio – Large panels glide smoothly on corrosion-resistant rollers and tracks for wide access.
- Garage – Durable aluminum with insulation options. Available in single, double, and custom widths.
Impact products come in a range of durable frame materials to suit your aesthetic tastes and budget:
- Aluminum – Lightweight, durable, and fast fabrication. Available in mill finish or powder coated colors. Budget-friendly option.
- Vinyl – Color integrally molded throughout. Never needs painting. Provides thermal efficiency. Resists corrosion.
- Composite – Fiberglass skins over structural polymer core. Stable in any climate. Resists moisture absorption.
- Wood – Beautiful natural appearance but requires extensive maintenance. Often used as interior surrounds rather than full frames.
- Steel – Reinforced perimeter subframes provide additional structural bracing. Thermally broken from interior.
Impact glass itself includes several options:
- Annealed – Basic glass used on interior lites. Not suitable alone for impact rating.
- Heat Strengthened – Up to 3 times stronger than annealed. Reduces thermal stress breakage.
- Tempered – Up to 5 times stronger than annealed due to internal compressive forces. Shatter-resistant.
- Laminated – Two or more glass sheets fused together with a polymer interlayer to retain fractured pieces.
- Insulated – Airspace between double or triple glazing provides enhanced insulation, sound dampening, and efficiency.
These standardized ratings help compare product resilience:
- Large Missile (9-lb) – Meets criteria for withstanding a 2×4 fired at 50 feet per second: Highest impact rating.
- Small Missile (2-lb) – Meets criteria for withstanding a steel ball fired at 130 feet per second.
- Accelerated Aging – Simulates 10+ years of harsh UV exposure to ensure durability. Verifies seals and finishes won’t degrade prematurely.
- Blast Mitigation – Tested to withstand explosive shock waves. Helps structures recover from explosions.
- Forced Entry Resistance – Measures resistance against intruder break-in attempts for enhanced security.
- AAAMA/WDMA/CSA 101 – Indicates compliance with North American testing protocols for structural loading, air/water infiltration, operability, and more.
Be sure to verify any impact product under consideration is properly certified and rated. This ensures genuine hurricane protection capability. Don’t settle for untested products or dubious claims.
Aesthetic, Design, and Functional Options
While protection is paramount, aesthetics and functionality also matter. Today’s impact windows and doors offer beautiful options:
- Colors – Many feature color-integrated frames like white, tan, gray, black, or custom tints. Units can be color-matched to existing architecture.
- Finishes – Smooth powder coated, textured, or woodgrain finishes suit any decor. Anodized aluminum resists fading and corrosion.
- Mullion Patterns – Simulated divided lite or removable internal grids recreate multi-pane charm.
- Mixed Configurations – Combine fixed picture units with operating windows. Use awnings or casements for ventilation.
- Mixed Glazing – Opaque privacy glass on bath units paired with clear view glass elsewhere optimizes function.
- Security Films – Upgrade existing glass economically by applying shatter-resistant films which also block UV rays.
Replacing windows or doors provides a perfect chance to upgrade operational features like hardware and accessibility:
- Multi-point Locks – Provide enhanced pry-resistance compared to single deadbolts. Keyed alike for convenience.
- Smooth Rollers – Reduce friction when opening expansive sliding doors and patio units.
- Reinforced Hinges – Support the weight of oversize specialty doors like those enclosing wide openings. Prevents sagging.
- Barrier-Free Sills – Low-profile sills on exterior doors enhance accessibility and prevent trip hazards.
Trust an Expert for the Best Results
With so many impact window and door options on the market, it’s essential to have an experienced professional guide you to the ideal choices for your specific home. Companies like Patriot Windows and Doors are specialists in hurricane products and total-solution installation services.
They will evaluate your existing structure, openings, aesthetic goals, and budget to recommend replacement or new construction products optimized for performance, energy efficiency, visual appeal, and long-term satisfaction. Never settle for an off-the-shelf, one-size-fits-all impact product.
Invest Wisely in Hurricane Protection
Hurricanes are an unavoidable threat for Miami homeowners. But you can avoid property damage, injuries, and financial loss by proactively installing trusted impact windows and doors before storms hit.
Contact Patriot Windows and Doors today to safeguard your home with products engineered to meet Miami-Dade’s rigorous hurricane standards. Protect your family and your most valuable asset with impact windows and doors you can rely on if and when the next Big One strikes.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Here are 10 most FAQs about choosing the best impact windows and doors for homes:
1. What is the difference between impact windows and regular windows?
Impact windows have a reinforced, laminated glass construction to withstand debris impact during storms. Regular windows will shatter under the same impacts.
2. Do impact windows reduce noise?
Yes, the laminated glass and tight seals help reduce outside noise up to 50% better than conventional windows.
3. How much more do impact windows cost compared to regular windows?
Impact windows typically cost 50-100% more than standard windows, but provide hurricane protection and lower insurance premiums.
4. What are impact doors made of?
Impact doors have a reinforced core frame material like composite fiberglass along with laminated multilayer glass to resist impact.
5. Do impact doors come in double door styles?
Yes, impact doors are available in standard single and double French door configurations to suit various opening sizes.
6. How can you tell if a window or door is truly impact rated?
Look for labels and certifications indicating compliance with standards like AAMA, ASTM, and Miami-Dade County to confirm authentic impact resistance.
7. Do impact windows look different than regular windows?
Impact windows feature reinforced frames but the glass can be transparent so the look can match non-impact windows. Laminated glass may have a slightly different optical quality.
8. Where should you avoid cutting corners on impact window costs?
Never skimp on the glass quality, which provides the core impact resistance. Get quotes for top brands of laminated impact glass.
9. Do impact windows require special cleaning or maintenance?
Impact windows are cleaned like normal windows using soft towels and mild detergent. Ensure weep holes are clear of debris and check seals annually. Lubricating moving parts of operating impact windows and doors should also be done time to time.
10. How long should impact windows and doors last?
With proper installation, care, and maintenance, high quality impact windows and doors will typically last 25-30 years or longer – much longer than ordinary non-impact windows. Their extreme durability comes from robust components like laminated glass, composite frames, stainless steel hardware, and weather-resistant seals that resist wear, rot, corrosion, and age-related deterioration.