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do we need impact resistant windows?

Posted by Henley (My Page) on
Thu, Sep 8, 11 at 9:04

We're building a beach house in NJ that will be about 50 yards from the ocean. It's not an area prone to hurricanes, although Irene surprised us recently, but our architect did plan for impact resistant windows, which are considerably more expensive than regular windows. Many people in our area don't use them but instead, they put plywood up over the windows if there is a hurricane threat. Any opinions about whether we should just go for the impact resistant windows or not?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: do we need impact resistant windows?

What does code state?

Here in coastal areas (NC) you must either have impact windows or storm shutters. The impact windows wind up being just slightly more $ than storm shutters. The vast majority of houses were built before this requirement so plywood is the norm. I believe the requirement is just 5 years old.

I don't think if I lived in NJ, I would bother with impact windows unless they were required. But it does matter how available you are to put up plywood, whether you have area to store plywood etc.


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RE: do we need impact resistant windows?

If this is a vacation house, I'd go with the impact windows. You may have a good caretaker, but if a storm is coming, you want to be sure your property is protected, even if you can't get to putting up the plywood.

If this is a build for a permanent residence, then also think about your abilities now and as you age. Do you really want to be on a 30' extension ladder wrestling plywood in the wind when you are 68 years old? I sure wouldn't. Storm shutters would be difficult enough to wrestle with.

Yeah, it seems that every single choice you are presented with will end up costing you more money. But, investing in the home's infrastructure and first line protection from the elements is a lot harder to manage down the road. More expensive too. Once you have a nice sturdy box, it's easy to go back and put in the 5K worth of granite, and the 20K worth of exotic hardwood, and the 10K crystal chandelier.


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RE: do we need impact resistant windows?

I was suprised at the testing I saw for these windows
a couple of years ago at a ceu class.
they shoot a 2x4 at them and it causes the windows to shatter but not into pieces. kinda like a windshield.
Later the same day they invited this big guy from in the
audience to take a hammer to the glass. still didn't break thru.
I know they are selling these windows not only for high winds but for burgler proofing.

lots of them installed in my area and further south.
esp in N.O.


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RE: do we need impact resistant windows?

You all make some excellent points. We'll probably get them. Storage is an issue for us so that might be the deciding factor. Thanks!


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RE: do we need impact resistant windows?

Who said you need plywood if you don't get impact windows? What if you get regular windows and no plywood?

Price regular windows versus impact windows.
Find out if you need plywood or shutters as an alternative (code). If you go with nothing, how does it affect your insurance premium? If code says you can do none, consider the cost and decide if it is worth it to you. will the home be worth more in value if you sell?

I am directly on the coast in FL and don't have either...and have not had a problem with any windows breaking during storms. Have had some direct hits of trop storms and had a Cat 5 hurricane hit within 15 miles of the home.


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RE: do we need impact resistant windows?

Sweet Tea - my first thought is "are you kidding me"?

A major way that hurricanes total a house is to blow out a window and then rip the roof off with the pressure.

You are not directly on the ocean if I recall. You may live in a house that is a few years older and has smaller windows that are less likely to break. What you are proposing is a bit like not having smoke detectors because you have never had a house fire.

I do believe southern FL at least has required impact protection for over a decade.

At least in NC, the insurance discount is a paltry 7% and only on the wind policy.

Doesn't really matter - from what I can tell NJ adopted impact requirement in 2006. Plywood is usually not an option.


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RE: do we need impact resistant windows?

Dave: My home is engineered and built to handle the hurricane wind pressure and not break apart. It's called a partially enclosed structure and they are very common as of 2002 FL building code. (Possibly 2008 blg code changed so impact windows are reqd..not sure) The windows in these partially enclosed structures are not impact resistant, but are designed to not BLOW out in a hurricane...they have very strict engineered specs for pressure on each window based on calculations and charts of wind speeds and pressures and design and location of the home(called design pressure rating, there is a plus and minus rating for in out out pressure). Also they are installed into the home very strong per specs so they don't blow out.

Impact resistant windows would be needed if we also wanted to protect for missiles (flying bricks, etc) that would hit and break the window glass.

Our home is designed that if every window was broken that the home withstand the wind pressure from a hurricane and not break apart and roof not blow off.

We can always add shutters or plywood if we choose if flying debris is something that we want to protect against(or buy new windows when it is time). But the super strong structure is not something we can redo as easy at a later time. Not really worried about rushing out to buy shutters or plywood, to be honest.


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RE: do we need impact resistant windows?

ST - I am really surprised that FL code didn't require impact windows earlier than the rest of us.

DP rated windows have been required for longer and is what you have. IRC speaks to this so it is probably universal in hurricane zones. Same with roof strapping. I imagine you have some things above and beyond our requirements.

2006 IRC requires impact protection and specifically doesn't allow the alternative, which is to beef up the rest of the structure. 2002 did allow that. Since NJ follows the IRC, the OP needs impact protection and plywood is specifically disallowed (except under limited circumstances)

Just a thought - you might not be worried about missles (any trees nearby?), but the IRC is. Even in NJ which has probably 10% of your risk. Now the code officials tend to go overboard sometimes - like with the plan for sprinkler requirement in SFH that is coming. But you don't generally see a clamoring that the impact requirement is onerous or over the top. Maybe there should be since it is a pretty expensive addition but given the timing, so few builders are effected. Owners are the ones paying the price since the spec market is mostly shut down, even more so in coastal areas.


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RE: do we need impact resistant windows?

If impact windows are required per code in NJ as Dave says, then why is the OP being given the option (impact windows or not) by the architect?


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RE: do we need impact resistant windows?

I have a place on the back bays in New Jersey. Built a new home on it in 2000 with several large sliding glass doors on two large decks facing the water. I worry about those sliders with every storm. But with this latest storm, we actually boarded them up. I figured it wasn't worth risking the damage and destruction to the interior of the home if something came flying at one of them. I really am not looking for any new projects at the present time and really love the home just as it is. We will probably be replacing several of them in the next year or so do to wear and tear from the winter storms on them. I will definetly consider impact resistant glass in them. It will be a balancing act between my peace of mind and my pocket book.


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RE: do we need impact resistant windows?

Impact windows are not required by code but we were advised to check with our insurance company since they might not insure us without these windows since they can't be sure that owners will put the plywood up, especially if these are second homes.


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RE: do we need impact resistant windows?

Local code in NW Fl says that all windows/door glass be impact rated or you must have bolts for hurricane shutters on site at final inspection. I am building 5 miles form the ocean but near a bay. I believe that code has been in place for the beach area since 2002 but they moved the line north to the bay in 2007 or so.

We went with impact glass because if there is a storm coming I dont want to be hauling shutters up ladders to the second floor. I can just pack the car and go sit in traffic!

The windows we bought are locally made and weren't that expensive. They aren't anything fancy either. Vinyl, single hung. I think the biggest one is a 3050 twin unit. I guess they could get really expensive if you have big walls of windows.


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RE: do we need impact resistant windows?

For as much as they might help in a hurricane, there is also a much more practicle reason to go with impact resistant windows.

Double pane and triple pane windows are an expensive PITA to replace. If you have impact resistant windows they will generally survive the occassional kids ball bouncing off the window, which is much more likely to happen than storm damage.


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RE: do we need impact resistant windows?

Another important benefit is security...I would kill to have impact resistant windows! Not worrying about some robber or home invader punching through the glass is peace of mind enough, let alone the wind and hurricanes.

I do think that these are a good investment even if you aren't near the beach...mainly on the first floor, though.


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