Hurricane impact windows offer excellent protection for your home if a tropical storm makes landfall in your area.
They use modern technology, high-strength materials, and construction techniques that ensure they can withstand the extreme conditions of even the most severe hurricane category.
There are many advantages to hurricane windows beyond the direct benefit of offering protection from a hurricane’s high winds and intense rainfall, including improved home security, better energy efficiency, and greater comfort.
Some experts say that installing impact-resistant hurricane windows can even increase the value of your home.
But is that really the case?
If you are considering installing them in your home, you’ll want to know how effective they are at keeping a storm at bay, as well as the other advantages hinted at in the introduction.
This article will take a detailed look at the benefits and costs of installing hurricane windows. Then, we’ll discuss the likely impact on the value of your home to establish whether it is worth installing them if you think you might be selling up soon.
Do Hurricane Windows Increase Home Value?
Hurricane windows are more expensive than standard windows but offer many advantages to the homeowner over cheaper alternatives. They might make your home more desirable and thus easier to sell. However, they are unlikely to increase the value of your house on their own.
Keep reading if you want to learn more about this critical subject and whether hurricane windows are the right solution for your home.
What Damage Can a Hurricane Do to Your Home?
Everyone knows that hurricanes can cause damage to your home, especially if you live on the South Florida coast. We’ve all seen the footage of trees being ripped from the ground, roof tiles being torn off, and houses being destroyed.
What many people don’t realize is how important window protection is for minimizing the damage caused by hurricanes.
When a hurricane makes landfall, it picks up objects from the ground and throws them through the air, causing damage to homes and buildings if an impact occurs.
Windows are a weak point in the envelope of a building and are very vulnerable to damage. If they are breached, it allows wind and rain to enter the building, which will ruin your interior décor and potentially cause much more severe damage.
When a window is broken, the wind rushes into the building, causing a rapid increase in the air pressure inside. This swift air flow can lift the roof off the walls and cause the walls to blow over. This can be catastrophic for any home and result in the obliteration of the house and its contents.
One of the most straightforward yet highly-effective steps homeowners can take to safeguard their home and its contents from hurricane damage is to protect the windows during a storm.
Window security can be achieved in several ways, including installing hurricane windows, fitting shutters that can be drawn across the front of the windows, or installing protective covers made from plywood or other strong materials that can withstand impacts from flying objects.
Protecting the windows helps safeguard the integrity of the building envelope and prevent the sudden inrush of wind and rain that can damage the interior and its contents and even destroy the whole building.
What Are Hurricane Windows?
Hurricane (or impact) windows are specially designed to withstand the ravages of strong winds and flying objects associated with intense tropical storms.
They cost more than standard windows, but the adage that you get what you pay for was never truer here. These windows are worth the investment if you live in an area that suffers from hurricanes, especially if you value some of the other benefits they offer.
The glass of a hurricane window is multi-layer. Two or more panes of tempered glass are bonded together with a solid transparent plastic-like layer made from polyvinyl butyral (PVB) or ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA).
Manufacturers test the glass thoroughly to ensure it meets the standards required by the relevant building codes. Normally, testing involves firing a piece of 2″ x 4″ lumber at 34 mph towards the glass to emulate the type of impact typical during a hurricane.
Even if the glass shatters, it remains stuck to the plastic membrane, so the windowpane remains in position and protects the interior from wind and rain entering.
Because it is tempered glass, even if the odd piece breaks away from the pane, it will not be in the form of a sharp shard that can cause injury. Instead, it cracks into much smaller pieces of glass without sharp edges, sometimes called “dices,” which are far less likely to cause harm.
After surviving the impact test, windows are subjected to 9,000 cycles of wind testing to simulate the forces that a hurricane’s high winds can produce.
In addition to exceptionally strong glass, impact windows have solid frames made from heavy-duty materials and robust fixings to ensure that the unit holds firm under the extreme conditions it is designed to cope with.
While these robust designs and testing can give a good level of confidence in the strength and integrity of impact-resistant windows, there are no guarantees regarding hurricanes.
A Category 5 storm could batter a building for hours, continually hurling flying objects against the windows and pressing high winds against the glass.
Nature’s power is not to be trifled with, and despite all the testing in the world, impact-resistant windows cannot be said to be impact-proof and could be breached during an intense storm.
What Are the Benefits of Hurricane Impact Windows?
Some advantages of hurricane windows are obvious, but some unexpected or hidden benefits are worth pointing out.
Let’s examine some of the main benefits of installing them.
Let’s get the obvious one out of the way first—hurricane windows are far more robust than traditional windows, thanks to the design and construction described above.
They remain in place even after a significant impact. They can withstand the force of strong winds, thereby keeping wind and rain out of the building, preventing water damage and the pressure spikes that can damage foundations and blow roofs clean off.
You can likely get a concession from your home insurer if you have these protective measures installed on your house to prevent hurricane damage.
Impact-resistant windows are engineered to be exceptionally strong and provide many years of reliable service.
Traditional window mechanisms tend to wear more quickly, reducing the tightness of the seal of the sash against the window jamb, which can allow drafts or rainwater to get into the building.
Hurricane windows last longer thanks to their durable construction and more rigorous testing.
Cheap windows often allow condensation to form from moisture in the air, particularly in humid climates. This can enable mold growth, which releases spores that cause allergies and aggravate asthma symptoms.
Hurricane windows guard against the formation of condensation and therefore keep these allergy-causing nuisances at bay.
Enhanced Energy Efficiency
The multiple layers of laminated glass used in impact windows help to make them more energy-efficient than single-pane windows.
Specialty coatings can further enhance their performance in this regard, for example, by reducing the sun’s warming effect, which is a substantial issue in some homes.
Better energy efficiency can save you money on HVAC bills, with some estimates coming in at $100 per month. However, these savings depend on the current energy efficiency of your house and your local conditions.
Financing Could Be Available
Some states have schemes to help finance home upgrade costs, including hurricane windows.
For example, the Property Assessed Clean Energy Program financing (PACE financing) available in Florida includes hurricane windows. Inclusion in this program is earned partly due to the high energy efficiency of this type of window.
PACE financing lets you spread the cost of upgrades with low-interest rates, allowing you to pay back the installation amount over 20 years without having to pay anything upfront.
Improved Home Security
The ability to stop impacts from flying objects flung by hurricane-force winds transfers nicely to home security. Any would-be-intruder will have a job on their hands trying to get through the impact-resistant glass.
We have seen tests by one manufacturer where the technician gave up hitting the hurricane window under test after eight minutes of continuous pounding with a sledgehammer.
The reason he gave up was that he was exhausted! We doubt any intruder would be quite so persistent.
This enhanced home security can also get you a discount from your insurer on theft cover.
Increased Value of Your Home
Since the hurricane season of 2019, when more than 18 named storms hit Florida, interest in hurricane windows has increased all along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.
Homebuyers want to purchase a house well-protected against hurricane damage, and there are reports that buyers are more likely to buy homes with extra protection measures, such as impact-resistant windows.
This could mean they are willing to pay more for such houses, and there is anecdotal evidence that this does happen, although hard data to back up these claims is tough to come by.
Whether your home could increase in value after installing hurricane windows will depend on location, as with all things real estate-related, but also things like whether there are existing storm protection measures in place at your home.
You should check with a real estate agent what the outlook might be for your home before deciding whether to install impact windows to ensure it’s the right choice for your circumstances.
If you are interested in how different hurricane protection measures can affect your insurance premium, read our article about how much hurricane ties can save you on home insurance.
How Much Do Hurricane Windows Cost?
According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost of installing hurricane windows capable of withstanding hurricanes falls between $2,500 and $13,500 for an entire home.
This figure is quite an extensive range, but you can get a better idea of the likely cost for your own home by using an estimate of the average cost per square foot of windows, which HomeAdvisor states are $55/sq ft.
The cost varies according to window type and material used. For example, aluminum frames will cost about $160 per window, vinyl frames around $200 per window, and wooden frames in the region of $290 per window, placing them firmly at the luxury end of the range.
We have written an article about eco-friendly vinyl or plastic windows where you can read more about how they perform.
How Much Do Hurricane Windows Impact Home Value?
There is anecdotal evidence that installing hurricane windows can increase home values, but concrete numbers are difficult to find.
While it makes sense that impact windows could increase the value of your home if you live in an at-risk area, you should do site-specific research before making up your mind.
According to Remodeling Magazine’s 2022 Cost vs. Value Report, homes in the South Atlantic Region of the US that had their windows replaced with vinyl framed windows paid on average $19,900 for the installation.
At resale, the value of these windows was $13,022, meaning that homeowners recouped 65% of the installation cost at resale. Using these figures, it seems that installing standard vinyl windows doesn’t increase home value.
The multiple benefits of installing impact-resistant windows could increase the value of your home by more than standard windows, mainly if there were little or no storm protection in place beforehand. However, it seems unlikely that you would make a profit from installing them.
The answer is likely to vary in different locations and according to the specifics of your home, including whether existing storm protection measures are in place.
Final Thoughts: Are Hurricane Impact Windows Worth It?
Hurricanes cause billions of dollars worth of damage to homes in at-risk areas when they make landfall, and having adequate protection in place for your home is crucial.
Hurricane windows are a great solution to this problem, but they are more expensive than other options, such as protective covers or shutters. However, whether impact-resistant windows are worth it depends on your specific circumstances.
How much do you value the convenience and peace of mind of a completely passive storm protection measure that requires no action from you to prepare for an incoming storm?
If you are out of town a lot and therefore not around to respond to hurricane warnings and close your shutters or fit protective covers over your windows, perhaps investing the extra money is worthwhile.
Likewise, if you have mobility problems, don’t have a head for heights, or just don’t want to put up plywood boards over your second-story windows, impact windows could be the right choice for you.
If you plan on selling your house soon, you can’t necessarily expect to recoup your costs in total, and it seems unlikely that you would increase the value of your home by installing hurricane windows.
Real estate is a funny business, though, so consult an agent in your area who will be able to advise you on the likely implications on resale value if that’s important to you.
Given the benefits regarding hurricane resistance, energy efficiency, reliability, home security, and so on, it’s easy to make a case for installing these protective windows regardless of the effect on the resale value of your home.