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What are the Key Differences Between Impact Windows and Storm Windows?

What are the Key Differences Between Impact Windows and Storm Windows?

June 12, 2022
Hurricane impact resistant window providing shelter from a tropical storm

Homeowners who live in regions that are hurricane-prone often secure their homes with sturdier windows. Making this investment, along with other precautions and preparedness steps, goes a long way towards protecting themselves, their families, and their homes.

While homeowners know they want to install stronger windows to help provide better protection, they are often confused when it comes down to making a choice of which type of windows to purchase.

One of the most common questions we see relates to the differences between impact windows and storm  windows. In our post today, we’ll aim to demystify these questions to help you make an educated decision when buying your new windows.

Are Impact Windows and Storm Windows the Same?

Impact and storm windows are not the same. Many people, even sometimes those working in the industry, tend to use the terms “impact” and “storm” interchangeably when it comes to windows. The thing is, while the two types of windows share many similarities, they are also quite different in many ways.

These differences are primarily due to the level of protection each style of window offers. Make no mistake, both types offer better protection than standard glass windows. However, impact windows generally provide more protection since they go well beyond the minimum requirements. Storm windows, while a definite upgrade, do not offer the same level of strength.

What is an Impact Window?

Impact windows, also referred to as hurricane windows, are designed with reinforced frames and impact-resistant glass. This means the glass won’t shatter or be compromised by heavy winds. You can rest easy knowing your family will not be injured by flying debris or flying glass shards if struck by an object during a storm.

What is a Storm Window?

Storm windows is a window that is installed on an existing window. These windows will provide notable protection features for your family and home. In addition to their functional abilities, you will find many styles and colors to choose from to beautify your home.

How Do I Choose Between Impact and Storm Windows?

Choosing between impact and storm windows isn’t always the easiest decision. Essentially, your final choice will be determined by many factors. The following bullet points help to highlight the differences you’ll want to consider when making your purchasing decision.

Impact Windows

  • Made with impact-resistant glass layers.
  • Built with durable laminated glass.
  • Contains multiple PVB layers for protection.
  • Protects against hurricane weather, brute force, high-speed winds, and flying debris.
  • Does not fall apart or shatter.
  • Constructed with strong, specially-designed frames.
  • Offers additional protection from burglaries (e.g. it cannot be broken with hammers, axes, or other tools).
  • Thermal insulation offers energy-efficient benefits.
  • Construction of glass offers noise reduction.
  • Glass construction helps block 99% of harmful UV rays.
  • Looks the same as regular windows and comes in a variety of stylish designs.

Storm Windows

  • Protects you from winds from storms.
  • Does shatter into shards of glass.
  • Will shatter after being struck by airborne debris.
  • Offers some level of thermal insulation protection from harmful UV rays.
  • Provides a level of noise cancellation effect. (But as strong as impact windows do.)
  • Built as an overtop to existing windows.

If you are looking strictly at price, you will pay more for impact windows than you would for Storm windows. In return, you will receive stronger protection and, in most cases, a better amount of curb appeal.

Read and Understand All Features

When making your decision, it’s important to consider the features you want and/or need. Not everyone needs impact windows. But if you live in an area where you’re at risk, such as certain designated areas of Florida, you may even be required by law to install impact windows. With similarities, such as safety glass technology, you may find you only need a lower-rated window for your home. It’s a good idea to look up your local ordinances regarding what type of windows you should install in your home. Then look at features such as frame styles and other aesthetic considerations.

Consumers Have Many Choices

The bottom line is homeowners have many choices when it comes to upgrading their home windows. The extra features of impact windows are something to consider if your home is located in a region that is particularly prone to experiencing hurricanes, tropical storms, and other severe weather. If so, you’ll definitely want to consider these local weather risks you face every year, even if you aren’t required by law to install specific types of windows.

However, storm windows may be sufficient for your needs if you live in an area where you see the occasional heavy storm. As with any other major home upgrade, you’ll want to weigh out the pros and cons of each window option to help you make an educated decision.