Vol 7 No. 9 - November 22, 2006

Windows key to keeping the roof on
By Louise Bolger
sun staff writer

Did you hear that - I think it's a collective sight of relief that the hurricane season is finally over, and not a single roof tile was lost. But wait, not so fast. If you want to protect your home for the next hurricane season and the decades of predicted hurricanes in the long range forecast, you need to start now.

The major threat to your home during a hurricane comes right through the front door and through the windows. When the building envelope is breached via a broken window or door, a point of entry is provided for wind. If this happens, the difference in the air pressure between the inside and outside of the structure could cause the roof to lift off.

There is endless conversation about the best way to protect buildings from high winds and rain associated with hurricanes. Plywood has been the protection of choice ever since weather forecasters had the ability to predict an oncoming storm, and it is effective if there is adequate advance notice and it is properly and securely installed.

Next came a variety of hurricane shutters, some operated electrically, some manually, or panel shutters made of metal which can be a permanent or temporary installation. Electronically-operated, roll-down shutters are very popular, very expensive and in our current market have a long lead time for installation, I'm hearing over a year.

The next innovation in window protection is impact-resistant windows. Impact-resistant windows consist of impact-resistant glass surrounded by a heavy duty frame which is securely fastened to the interior window header and frame. Their construction and anchoring keep high hurricane winds and debris from breaching the home's outer envelope.

The idea for shatter resistant glass windows for homes came from the automotive field, where laminated glass has been in use for years to protect the occupants. There are two types of impact resistant glass.

The Rolls Royce of impact-resistant glass is laminated glass consisting of two sheets of glass with an inner shatter proof membrane between them, which is totally invisible. If the glass receives a significant impact, it may shatter, but the inner membrane holds the pieces firmly in its frame so that the barrier is not broken. These windows are designed to prevent wind borne debris as well as would be intruders from getting through the window or door, making wind and water penetration nearly impossible. Impact resistant windows and doors come in virtually any style and can be designed with a variety of framing colors and materials. Although, the time from contract to installation is considerably less than for metal roll down shutters, plan on several months.

A second less hardy variety of impact resistant glasses uses window film applied to the surface of the glazing, with the less desirable result of keeping glass shards in place if the window is shattered, but it will not prevent a total penetration.

Purchasing impact resistant windows and doors is a very expensive investment in your home, and doing business with a reputable company is critical. Look for an established company that offers a transferable lifetime warrant on products and labor, and preferably a company that uses its own employees, not subcontractors. And of course, a product that meets or exceeds Florida building codes as well as the American Society for Testing & Materials standards.

Technology has certainly stepped up to provide homeowners with a convenient product that creates a safe haven without compromising style and beauty. Now all you and your checkbook have to do is remember that the next hurricane season is only six months down the road.

AMISUN ~ The Island's Award-Winning Newspaper