Impact windows are a great option to protect your family and home in Florida. It is no wonder impact glass windows and doors are such a popular choice. They look just like regular windows, but they can stand up to a category five hurricane. At the same time you want to choose the right windows for your home. But there are many brands and products out there. And if you are not a window expert it is hard to know what to look for when choosing yours. That is why we created this guide. Below are some considerations to help you compare and pick the perfect impact windows for you.
If you need extra help, we you can read our guide on choosing the Best Windows For Your Home in Florida.
How to compare impact windows
There are many things to consider when choosing your new impact windows. You can compare windows based on these things to understand which are the best ones for you.
To start you should make sure the windows meet some basic requirements, such as the windows meeting the Florida Building Code or HVHZ requirements (if necessary). For example, if you need HVHZ windows then this will help you narrow down your options to those that meet the requirement.
Then you can compare different windows on other factors. One factor is price. Another is the window’s warranty. And then there are design elements, such as the available colors and available styles.
Below we provide some of the core features that you can use to compare different impact windows.
1. Meet Florida Building Code and necessary Florida product approvals, such as HVHZ
This one is a basic requirement. If you live in Florida you will need to select impact windows that meet Florida Building Codes and have all necessary Florida product approvals. The specific product approvals you may need are dependent on your location and include things like approval for use in High Velocity Hurricane Zones.
Not all windows will be suitable. For example, not all windows are HVHZ approved.
So you will need to verify that the windows you select meet the requirements for your specific location. You can ask your installer which products meet the requirements for your area. Or you can also search for approved products yourself on the Florida dbpr Product Approval Search.
See below for a screenshot of an example search on the Florida dbpr Product Approval site.
Another way to compare different impact windows is to compare them based on performance. Window performance can include many different things.
Some different areas worth considering include the following:
- Energy efficiency/insulation performance – this is how well the windows insulate your home, typically measured by an R-value or similar measurement, and if they are energy star-rated, etc.
- Impact resistance performance – are the windows impact resistant, can they withstand a category 5 hurricane, are they HVHZ rated, etc.?
- Air and water penetration – what features or components are used and how do they perform in terms of blocking water and air intrusion?
- Operation – this is more of a subjective measurement, but how easy is each one to use and operate?
Determine which ones you require and care about. Then research different window options to see which ones meet your specific performance needs.
A warranty is another helpful way to compare different impact windows.
It is no secret that impact windows are an investment. You want to make sure they are going to last and function properly for a good amount of time. It is unreasonable to expect them to last forever. But you do want to make sure you are protected and covered if they don’t last like they are supposed to.
One way to add some assurance with your purchase is through the warranty for the impact windows. Not all warranties are created equal. Each warranty will differ in terms of years and coverage. So do make sure you review the warranty to understand what is covered, what is not covered, and for how long.
The warranty is important to you as a buyer for a few different reasons.
First, it is a good indication of the quality of the windows. It signals the reliability and durability of the product you are buying. This is because the warranty is generally a time period that the manufacturer is confident that the product will perform as it is supposed to. As such, it may be true that a longer and better warranty is a good indication of a higher quality, more reliable product.
Second, the warranty represents the amount of time that the manufacturer will stand behind the product, either entirely or in some way. So even if the windows break down you will be protected in some way under the warranty. The longer and more comprehensive the warranty is the better.
When comparing warranties you should look at the length of the warranty as well as what it does and does not cover.
Another important component is if the warranty is transferrable. A transferrable warranty can be transferred to a buyer if you sell your home. As such, this is a selling feature for your home because they will value the warranty on the windows.
4. Value (for the price)
Price is always going to be a factor. Setting a budget is a good way to narrow down your options.
But we do want to warn you about just finding the cheapest impact windows you can.
We mentioned earlier that impact windows are an investment. And you want to make sure that you are getting the highest return for your money. As such, it is important to pick windows that will provide you with the most value for your dollar.
Going with the lowest priced option may be cheaper. But it may also lead to cheap quality, problematic windows that don’t last very long.
Why might you be wary of cheap priced windows?
Beware of cheap impact windows
High quality impact windows are more expensive for a reason.
The cost of impact windows is largely driven by the materials and manufacturing costs that go into producing them.
High quality impact windows are made from high quality materials vs cheap materials. These include things like higher performance polymer interlayers, higher grade aluminum, higher quality parts inside the windows, and virgin vs recycled resin (in the case of vinyl windows), etc. They are also made via high quality manufacturing and quality assurance processes. This reduces the risk of buying windows that have defects from subpar craftsmanship and quality assurance.
Both of these assure that the windows will perform at a high level for a long time. But they do make the windows more expensive to produce.
Cheap windows, on the other hand, are usually the result of the manufacturer cutting corners. This means they may be made with lower quality materials. These may be lower performance polymer interlayers, lower grade aluminum, lower quality parts inside the windows, cheaper coatings, and lower strength, recycled resins (in the case of vinyl windows). The manufacturing and quality assurance processes may also not be as high-tech, or thorough as higher quality manufacturers.
It is typically true that you get what you pay for.
5. Available styles
There are many different window styles. And this is true for impact windows as well.
If your home has multiple window styles, or you want to incorporate multiple styles into your home, you will want to pick a supplier that has a wide selection. This will ensure that you can get matching windows throughout your entire home.
If you are replacing windows you will want to be able to match the styles of your existing windows.
And if you are building a new home having a wide selection of styles will provide you with flexibility in how you design your home.
You may also need custom windows. For example, if you have non-standard sized windows. In this case you will need to find a custom window supplier vs one that only has standard windows.
All of these factors can be used to compare different suppliers.
Some different impact window styles include:
- Horizontal roller
- Fixed or architectural
- Arch (half-moon)
Lastly, you can compare different windows based on their availability. Can you get them within a reasonable amount of time? Or are they on backorder for 12 months?
If you are in no hurry, then this may not be overly important. However, you probably want your impact windows installed before hurricane season begins. So waiting 12 or even six months for them is not ideal.
So make sure you compare different window options based on how long they will take to be installed.
Need help selecting impact windows?
Our company Eurex Shutters, has been installing high quality, impact windows and doors in Southwest Florida since 1986. If you have questions or need help give us a call at 239-369-8600 or contact us using the form below.