A sheet of tempered hurricane window glass is fabricated in a factory

Getting hurricane windows installed was one of the best choices you’ve made this year. After a recent storm, the windows held up fine, and you were pretty impressed. 

But, you may be wondering what exactly is used to construct hurricane windows and make them so durable.

If you want to learn more about how hurricane windows are built, especially regarding the glass, this article will tell you everything you need to know. There’s lots of great information ahead, so make sure you keep reading! 

What Types of Glass are Used in Hurricane Windows?

Hurricane windows are made of either laminated glass or insulated laminated glass and feature a layer of polyvinyl butyrate (PVB) between them. In addition, they might be situated in an aluminum frame for even better longevity.

Types of Glass Used to Make Hurricane Windows

We mentioned that hurricane windows, also known as impact windows, use either laminated or insulated laminated glass. 

Let’s go over the differences between these two types so you can choose the most suitable option for your next set of hurricane windows

Laminated Glass 

The first type of impact window glass is laminated glass. This impact-resistant window glass features dual sheets that are adhered to an interlayer made of plastic (more on this in the next section). 

Laminated glass differs from tempered glass, as the former is safety glass. As safety glass, if your laminated glass hurricane windows break, the interlayer will hold the pieces together to prevent shattering. 

A hurricane window undergoing an impact resistance test in a facility

How, you ask?

Pressure and heat provide the interlayer with this unique capability. 

Even if the glass were to fall off the window, it’s not in a spray of tiny glass shards that can be dangerous. Rather, laminated glass breaks off in larger chunks that are less likely to be injurious if you were nearby when your window broke.

You’re likely familiar with laminated glass, although it’s not used for the windows in homes outside of hurricane windows. Instead, laminated safety glass is a standard in all vehicles, as it comprises the windshield. 

Windshields using laminated safety glass are seen stacked vertically in a factory

Glass floors, glass facades, glass railings, and skylights are often made of laminated glass as well. 

There are plenty of benefits of choosing laminated glass hurricane windows besides hurricane protection, including:

  • The rate of UV rays that enter your home is significantly lessened, preserving the color and integrity of your walls, flooring, furniture, artwork, and other indoor décor. It’s also healthier for your skin.
  • Thicker hurricane windows, with their multiple layers of glass, can lessen the rate of street noise you hear
  • It’s challenging to break impact glass – even smashing it several times with a sledgehammer wouldn’t break it. If a thief or burglar were trying to break into your home, they’d have a difficult time getting in. 
  • Hurricane window glass is energy-efficient and may even reduce your reliance on heating and air conditioning. That leads to lower energy bills every month for you! 

Insulated Laminated Glass

Insulated laminated glass is the other type of glass used to construct hurricane windows. 

As the name implies, insulated laminated glass is just like regular laminated glass but with one key difference. It’s insulated!

The insulation is in the form of an additional glass pane. Rather than two panes used to make regular laminated glass for impact windows, insulated laminated hurricane windows have three.

This extra pane is not necessarily laminated but sits on the dual-laminated glass layers. In between the laminated and top pane is gas, which creates a space that’s hermetically sealed. 

A homeowner on a ladder installing hurricane window panes above an interior door in his home

Hermetic sealing is a method used to produce an airtight seal. If not gas, sometimes an insulated laminated glass hurricane window will feature hermetically-sealed air. The effect is still the same.

The air or gas sealing creates insulation around the window that can reduce the difference in temperatures between the inside and outside of your home. 

Should your windows already have a low-E coating and you call a cold region home, the layer becomes even more efficient thanks to the insulation.

Insulated laminated glass is even more energy-efficient than regular laminated glass, which means more savings on your monthly utility bills. 

Since insulated laminated glass hurricane windows have more layers than regular laminated glass, they’re more expensive. Other than that, though, the benefits of laminated glass windows all apply to insulated laminated glass hurricane windows as well. 

What Type of Plastic Sheeting Is Used for Hurricane Windows?

The interlayer of hurricane windows is an essential component of the window’s construction, as it can keep the window intact even when cracking or prevent the laminated glass from spraying. 

What is the plastic sheeting made of?

Polyvinyl butyral is the most common material. PVB is a type of resin renowned for its flexibility, hardiness, and ability to adhere to various surfaces. Once it creates a bond, that bond is quite strong.

To manufacture PVB, butyraldehyde and polyvinyl alcohol combine, creating a chemical reaction.

PVB is mostly used in automobile safety glass, another similarity between windshields and hurricane windows. You might see PVB referred to by brand names such as EVERLAM, Trosifol, S-Lec, WINLITE, Butacite, GlasNovations, Saflex, and KB PVB.

If not PVB, then hurricane window glass might be sandwiched between one of the following materials, including:

  • Thermoplastic polyurethane – TPU is a type of polyurethane plastic that resists abrasions, grease, and oil. It’s transparent and relatively elastic, which are two of its trademarks. TPU also appears in inflatable rafts, medical devices, power tools, drive belts, and caster wheels. 
  • Cast in place liquid resin – CIP resin casting involves casting plastic in a mold with liquid synthetic resin. The resin hardens, and a mold is used. The mold can be shaped any way one wishes. 
  • Ethylene-vinyl acetate – EVA, sometimes referred to as polyethylene-vinyl-acetate or PEVA, is a vinyl acetate and ethylene copolymer. It’s more like rubber than it is plastic but is waterproof and stress-crack-resistant. 

What Kind of Frame Does a Hurricane Window Have?

Hurricane windows are outfitted with a frame to make installation in your home easier. Since every other part of the window is built with durability in mind, you assume the frame would be as well—that is indeed correct. 

Hurricane windows are often fitted into a heavy-duty frame made of aluminum. However, compared to other metals, aluminum is a lot more lightweight, so you don’t have to worry about the frame weighing down your window. 

Looking out from inside a home through a hurricane window

The frame has a twofold benefit.

First, it keeps the glass panels in place (not like they’re at much risk of shifting in normal conditions, but during a storm, it’s different) and further fortify the windows. 

Conclusion 

Hurricane or impact windows are made of either laminated glass or insulated laminated glass. The difference between the two types is the addition of a third layer for insulated glass.

Insulated laminated glass is even more energy-efficient since it’s excellent at maintaining a comfortable temperature. 

Holding the glass layers of the hurricane window together is a layer of plastic, often made of PVB. The whole window is then finished with a sturdy aluminum frame for a product sure to keep your home safer! 

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