White Paper — How to Choose Impact Windows

Coastal home with Sentinel impact resistant hurricane windows

Selecting the Right Impact and Hurricane Windows

We’ve all seen those awful post-storm photos of 2x4s speared through a window, shattered glass covering someone’s possessions and furniture and belongings sucked through a window and scattered. Hurricanes, tornadoes, straight-line winds – all of these weather phenomenons can wreak havoc on your home if you don’t have the right windows in place. Think window choice isn’t that important? Let’s look a little closer.

What if the Three Little Pigs Had Chosen Impact Windows?

Living by the ocean can be such a joy: walking on the beach every day, enjoying the beautiful sunshine and cool breezes. But when hurricane season comes, what’s the best hurricane window choice to protect a home?

One of the first breaches of the building envelope during a wind event: the windows. Non-impact windows won’t stand up to the wind, weather, and projectiles the way impact windows will. Weak, ineffective windows can be the difference between preserving family safety and possessions, and disaster.

According to the International Hurricane Protection Association, once winds get inside a home during a hurricane, the roof – and most of the home’s structure – most likely will not survive. Pressure build-up will cause these elements to separate, devastating a home in a matter of minutes.

Why Impact Windows Are a Necessity

Sometimes it’s not the wind that shatters windows, but what the wind picks up and throws through windows. Photos like the ones below have become all too commonplace following significant wind events:

Take a look at this wind map illustrating the wind-borne debris regions present in the state of Florida, including adjustments made as part of the 2010 Florida Building Code (FBC).  As these affected regions continue to expand (the green area indicates expansion included in the 2010 FBC), the necessity of choosing impact windows will become even more important.

Wind-Borne Debris Region map of Florida

This level of information isn’t just specific to Florida: across the GulfCoast and the Atlantic Seaboard, wind and debris damage will always be a valid threat during wind events.

Beyond the broken glass and damaged property, choosing weak, non-impact windows can unleash a whole other host of challenges on the property owner. Higher noise levels. Higher property insurance premiums. Lower resale value. Lower intruder protection. Less UV protection for furniture and items within the home.

Taking all of this into consideration, one has to wonder: shouldn’t every home and building in storm-prone areas be constructed with impact windows?

The Obvious Choice: Hurricane Impact Windows

So what’s the best way to keep the wolf away from the windows? Choose strong, durable, proven impact windows to protect your home and your family. Let’s explore the positive effects of this choice a little bit more.

Choosing to purchase impact windows for your home or commercial property makes sense on many levels. Impact windows are put through a series of rigorous tests designed to ensure that the windows, typically the weakest element of a structure, won’t compromise the integrity of the home during a storm.

How do hurricane windows work? Impact windows are designed to resist the penetration of flying debris during a storm, thereby protecting a home or commercial structure from wind infiltration and resulting damages. Once a structure is compromised and penetrated by flying debris, internal pressure builds up, leading to serious structural damage.

To be qualified as an impact product, the window must meet hurricane or wind-borne debris codes from an approved body such as Miami-Dade, Florida Building, or the International Building Code.

Beyond the obvious safety benefits, choosing hurricane impact windows has wide-reaching effects across almost all areas of homeownership. Among them:


The laminated glass used in impact windows adds another layer of 24/7 protection between residents of the home and intruders. Impact resistant windows can help deter would-be intruders from breaking into your home, and protect your family and home.

Lower Energy Costs

Good impact windows come with many glass options. Based on the glass chosen, energy efficiency can increase dramatically (in the form of less energy required to heat/cool the home) while the budget wins. The most cost-effective impact window glazing option is tinted laminated glass. Additionally, laminated glass or insulated laminated glass with an LoE coating would deliver even higher energy savings. While both options do cost a little more, they offer the best energy efficiency protection on the market. Both choices are perfect for warm climates such as Florida, the Caribbean, Hawaii, and along the Gulf and Atlantic coastlines.

Lower Insurance Costs

In most cases, installing hurricane impact windows will lower property insurance costs, offering another financial benefit.

UV Ray Reduction

Laminated impact glass eliminates up to 99 percent of UV ray damage to the interior furnishings and decorations of a home or commercial building. Long term, hurricane impact windows help save money because these items will not have to be replaced as quickly.

Resale Value

Better windows = better home envelope = better resale value.

Sound Reduction

Laminated impact glass reduces outside noise transmission into the interior of the home or commercial property, which leads to a more beneficial, easy-going environment.

With new construction, choosing and installing impact windows should be a very easy choice. But what about remodeling? Are impact windows worth the price of a retrofit?

The 2020 Remodeling Magazine Cost Vs. Value Report

(https://www.remodeling.hw.net/cost-vs-value/2020/) details the obvious financial benefits of replacing windows. Listed as one of the nation’s top remodeling projects, the ROI is clear:

Project: Window Replacement

Job Cost: $17,641

Resale Value: $12,761

Cost Recouped: 72.3%

Value Vs. 2019: Down

Impact Window Material Options

Searching for the right hurricane windows product from the right company might be overwhelming. Here’s a quick guide to what’s-what in the impact window industry.

There are three main options for impact windows: Aluminum, vinyl, and wood. But how do these hurricane windows compare and contrast with each other? Let’s take a deeper look.




Aluminum Stronger. Weather resistant. Lightweight. Aesthetically pleasing. Low maintenance. Recyclable. Needs to be painted.
Vinyl Excellent insulator. High energy performance. Low maintenance. Low cost. Recyclability is still being fully researched.
Wood Excellent insulator. High energy performance. Recyclable. Rots and warps. High maintenance.

Impact Window Glass Options

How to decipher the many kinds of hurricane windows glass options from which to choose?

Laminated: Two sheets of glass bonded together with a plastic film.

Insulated Laminated: An additional pane of glass is added to a laminated unit with hermetically sealed air space in between. Commonly used in colder climates where the temperature difference is greater than 50 degrees between inside and outside during the winter.

Why Impact Windows?

Some may question the necessity of impact windows. Why take a chance? Most impact resistant windows and doors are designed to higher performance thresholds. The benefits of hurricane impact windows far outweigh the cost difference, and in many cases, the cost difference is minimal. Keep in mind; it’s not only the performance in a storm, but also the longevity of the product that makes it worth buying. The product features that make these impact resistant windows stronger also allow them to last much longer than the competition. Good manufacturers stand behind their products with a competitive warranty. Quality hurricane windows and doors installed over 10 years ago can still be performing and operating as when they were first installed. If you are considering purchasing impact resistant windows or doors, you owe it to yourself to understand the long-term value difference between manufacturers and their products.

The Best Choice: Impact Windows from CGI

The decision has been made: impact windows are the best choice for any home or commercial structure in an area frequented by hurricanes or tornadoes. Next, it’s important to choose the right impact window manufacturer to ensure that the windows are strong, durable, and will last.

Choose CGI Impact Resistant Windows and Doors

Selecting impact windows and hurricane impact doors for either whole-house or commercial projects is a big investment. Before making this big decision, compare things like designs, finish quality, aluminum sections, hardware components, and product approvals. Look for a supplier with market longevity and a real focus on quality performance. A supplier that stands behind their impact windows and offers the best combination of beauty, durability, innovation, and value.

Established in 1992, CGI blazed a trail as the first manufacturer of hurricane windows and doors to offer laminated glass designed to meet the most stringent Miami-Dade County impact standards. As one of the original pioneers in the design and manufacture of high-performance impact resistant windows, CGI continues to lead the industry in innovation, product craftsmanship, strength, and style.

CGI impact resistant windows are a successful combination of heavy, commercial-grade aluminum frames and laminated glass which creates a superior level of strength and durability. CGI impact resistant windows offer 24/7 protection against storms, outside noise, UV rays, and forced entry.

The architectural community has come to know and respect CGI impact window products. From elegant custom residences to personal homes, these windows remain a favorite product with both the personal residences of architects and the projects they design. CGI product collections can also be found in the most prestigious resorts, office buildings, schools, and high-profile hotels. Of special note: CGI impact windows were chosen to be part of the renovation of the historic and beautiful Palm Beach Breakers hotel.

CGI Product Options

Offering a wide variety of high-performance product collections from which to choose, there’s a CGI impact window product to fit every project. From remodeling to new construction, choose from a full line of impact windows (and doors) that any discriminating buyer would be proud to own.

Sentinel Collection

Exceptional quality, craftsmanship, energy efficiency, and durability at an affordable price – these are the hallmarks of the Sentinel Collection by CGI. Custom manufactured to enhance the aesthetics of any home, Sentinel impact windows are champions at delivering protection from the most extreme coastal weather conditions. Aesthetically pleasing, functionally proven, and uniquely affordable – Sentinel offers the best of all impact window worlds. http://cgiwindows.com/view-our-collections/sentinel-by-cgi/

What About Code Approvals?

All code approvals are not created equal. Code approvals can be granted for many different product types, product properties and product uses. When evaluating code approvals, make sure the products are specifically approved for impact by a reputable governing agency such as Miami-DadeCounty and verify the approved performance level (PSF). Some manufacturers misrepresent their products as impact approved, when in fact the product is not. Talk to a CGI dealer for more information. Beware of the following:

• Approved non-impact windows and doors

• Impact windows and doors that are not approved for larger sizes, heights or locations in a structure.

• So-called “impact products”, which are simply impact glass in a non-impact approved window. Under tropical storm conditions, the glass could fly out of the window framing. Confirm the details with a CGI dealer.


Whether building a new home or taking on a remodeling project, windows are a key element of every home or commercial building. If the structure is located in a hurricane-prone area, impact windows are the best option to ensure safety and protection. The added bonus of lower energy costs and insurance premiums makes hurricane impact windows the obvious choice. When choosing impact windows, be smart: do the homework, compare the brands. If industry experience, design options, safety, and durability are paramount, go with the leader in hurricane impact windows: choose CGI Impact Windows & Doors. www.cgiwindows.com.

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