What’s the Difference Between Impact Windows and Hurricane Windows

Protecting your home in areas susceptible to severe weather requires knowing the distinctions between impact windows and hurricane windows. Though these terms are often used interchangeably, they have important differences. This guide will help you understand these differences, along with the advantages and considerations for each type, to help you make an informed decision for your home.

Living in hurricane-prone areas, like Florida, means taking proactive steps to safeguard your property. Windows are among the most vulnerable parts of a house during storms. Two common solutions are impact windows and hurricane windows. While they may seem similar, each offers unique benefits and features. This post will clarify the distinctions between impact windows and hurricane windows by exploring their definitions, features, installation processes, and costs.

Which is Better: Impact or Hurricane Windows?

To grasp the difference between impact windows and hurricane windows, it’s important to define each term.

Impact Windows

Impact windows are engineered to withstand the force of flying debris and strong winds. They consist of multiple layers of glass with an interlayer of polyvinyl butyral (PVB) or ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) that holds the glass together even if it shatters. The primary purpose of impact windows is to create a strong barrier that prevents breakage and maintains the integrity of the home’s envelope during extreme weather.

Key Features of Impact Windows:

  • Durability: Built to endure high-velocity impacts, reinforced glass withstands debris carried by hurricane-force winds.
  • Noise Reduction: The multi-layered construction effectively reduces outside noise.
  • UV Protection: Many impact windows have coatings that block harmful UV rays, protecting interior furnishings from fading.
  • Security: These windows offer enhanced security against break-ins due to their resistance to breaking.

Impact windows provide continuous protection without the need for additional storm preparations, making them an excellent investment for year-round safety and convenience.

Hurricane Windows

Hurricane windows, also known as hurricane-resistant windows, are designed to meet specific building codes and standards for storm protection. They are similar to impact windows but often have different testing and rating standards based on local regulations. The main difference lies in their certification and materials used.

Key Features of Hurricane Windows:

  • Compliance: Certified to meet standards set by organizations like the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and Miami-Dade County Product Control Division, ensuring they withstand high wind pressures and impacts.
  • Laminated Glass: Typically use laminated glass with a durable interlayer.
  • Customizable: Can be tailored to fit various architectural styles and personal preferences.
  • Cost-Effective: Depending on materials and installation, they may be more affordable than impact windows.

Hurricane windows are ideal for meeting local building codes and ensuring your home is protected during storm season. They often come with performance guarantees under specific conditions.

Installation and Maintenance

The installation process and maintenance requirements are critical when considering impact and hurricane windows. Both types require professional installation to ensure proper function and maximum protection.

Impact Windows Installation:

Hurricane Windows Installation:

  • Certified Installers: Essential to hire installers certified to work with hurricane-resistant products.
  • Building Codes: Compliance with local codes is crucial, and the installation process may have specific requirements.
  • Maintenance: Similar to impact windows, requiring minimal maintenance with periodic inspections and cleaning.

Both types offer long-term durability and protection, but installation processes may vary slightly based on local codes and specific products.

Cost Considerations and Benefits

Understanding the cost implications and benefits of each option is essential. Both types of windows represent a significant investment, but they offer various advantages.

Cost of Impact Windows:

  • Initial Investment: Typically more expensive due to advanced materials and construction, offering superior durability and long-term insurance savings.
  • Energy Efficiency: Often include energy-efficient features like Low-E coatings and gas fills, reducing energy bills.
  • Insurance Discounts: Many insurance companies offer discounts for homes with impact windows, offsetting higher initial costs.

Cost of Hurricane Windows:

  • Affordable Options: Depending on materials and features, they may be more affordable than impact windows.
  • Long-Term Savings: Offer benefits like energy efficiency and potential insurance discounts.
  • Value Addition: Can increase home resale value by providing added safety and compliance with local standards.

Do I Need Hurricane Shutters if I Have Impact Windows?

A common question is whether hurricane shutters are necessary if you have impact windows.

Hurricane Shutters:

  • Purpose: Cover windows to protect from wind and debris during storms. Come in various styles and materials.
  • Impact Windows’ Role: Provide all-in-one protection, eliminating the need for additional shutters due to their robust construction.
  • Pros and Cons: While shutters can add security, they require deployment before storms, which can be time-consuming. Impact windows offer constant protection without extra preparation.

Are Impact Windows the Same as Storm Windows?

Another consideration is the comparison between impact windows and storm windows.

Storm Windows:

  • Purpose: Secondary windows installed to improve insulation and reduce air infiltration, enhancing energy efficiency. Not designed for hurricane impact resistance.
  • Impact Windows vs. Storm Windows: Impact windows are built to resist high-force impacts and extreme weather, while storm windows may offer limited protection and are not rated for impact resistance.


Understanding the differences between impact windows and hurricane windows is crucial for homeowners in storm-prone regions. Impact windows offer superior durability, continuous protection, and additional benefits like noise reduction and UV protection. Hurricane windows are designed to meet specific building codes and can be a more cost-effective solution while still providing excellent storm protection.

Investing in either type of window enhances your home’s safety and resilience, offering peace of mind during hurricane season. For the best protection, consider the unique features and advantages of each option. Schedule a free in-home consultation today to explore the best window options for your needs and ensure your home is well-protected.

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