Impact Windows

nyc_sportSeptember 1, 2009

We are building a new custom waterfront house in the Northeast, and the building code and our insurance company require either (a) shutters, (b) impact windows, or (c) precut plywood panels for all windows and doors. Shutters are not feasible, so it is (b) or (c). We are looking at Loewen, Kolbe and Marvin windows.

We are debating not only the significant upcharge, but also whether the substantial added weight of impact glass poses any issues with longevity, maintenance, functionality, etc. Also, I have found various discussions about experiences with impact windows in the southeast, how about the northeast?

Any insights, as well as experience with particular impact Loewen, Kolbe or Marvin models, would be appreciated.

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I have used Pella impact resistant glass in several jobs, not that it was required by code but because the customer wanted the added sound deadening that the impact glass gives. I have found them to be a very good window. I know there are several posts on here that slam the Pella brand but I do a lot of work in the New Hampshire area and have found the Pella Branch up here to be very service oriented and have been extremely satisfied with their product and their service... Anytime I have had an issue the tech has been there within a very reasonable time to correct the issue and my sales rep has been very accommodating in making sure I have an adequate supply of little nuisance type items such as plugs for their in frame replacement windows so I don't have to wait for him to get some if I lose them on a job. I'd say Pella up here far outweighs the service I have gotten with any other window company I have dealt with and it has about the best lead time for window availability out of any of the companies.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2009 at 2:34PM
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From every perspective, impact windows outperform plywood - except price. As you mentioned, there is a definite upcharge when going from "normal" windows to impact windows.

The question in your location is whether or not the advantages of impact windows are worth the cost.

1) Considering protection, impact windows significantly outperform plywood primarily because they are passive protection. You don't have to do anything with them once they are installed. Your home is protected.

2) Considering protection (again), since the requirement in Florida for storm and impact protection, there have been no reported home structural failures related to impact window performance. There have been losses of homes related to plywood-protected window failures.

2) Considering convenience, see #1.

3) The laminated glass in impact windows will also help to protect your home furnishings from fading by blocking over 99% of UV rays trying to enter your home, and aminated glass is used in sound control applications, so impact windows will help to make your home quieter than it would be with standard windows.

4) Safety. Putting plywood over your windows, especially if you have to work on a ladder, is not something that everyone wants to do.

5) Convenience (again). If you use plywood, you have to have a place to store it. A place that is reasonably accessible if you have to mount them on the windows when a storm is coming.

In Florida, if you opt for plywood, you have to have mounting bolts permanently attached to your home for the plywood. Is that a requirement for you as well?

6) Safety (again). You have built-in burglar protection with impact windows. The same glass/sash/frame that is built to withstand hurricanes is going to make your typical break-and-enter artist go elsewhere. It is not easy to break into a house when the windows and doors are impact rated.

But, and it is a significant but, impact windows can be expensive. Compared with high end "normal" windows protected with shutters, impact windows are typically about the same cost or even less. But when compared with plywood then the impact windows can be a significant expense.

Does your insurance company offer discounts for using impact windows? If so, then that can help offset some of the additional cost.

The windows are designed to be able to handle the additional weight of the thicker glass used in impact products. It really isn't a concern. Impact windows are designed with heavy duty hardware and reinforced sash and frame components. These upgraded components should also help contribute to unit longevity as well.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2009 at 7:46PM
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See Loewen's Stormforce series link below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Loewen StormForce windows and doors

    Bookmark   September 15, 2009 at 1:39PM
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