By Louise Bolger
Windows key to keeping the roof on
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.