What Makes Impact Windows and Doors Different?

The sheer force of hurricane winds can cause catastrophic damage to buildings, trees, power lines, and other elements in and around your home. Factor in flying debris in the form of everything from road signs to roofing materials, and the potential for damage to property and people escalates even higher.

By now, you’re probably aware that impact windows and doors are one of the best ways to protect your home and its inhabitants from the devastating effects of hurricanes. However, you may not know how they work—or what makes them such a critical preventive measure for homeowners.

Here, we’ll take a closer look at what impact resistant windows and doors are, along with key features that differentiate them from regular windows and doors.

What are Impact Windows and Doors?

Often abbreviated to “impact windows and doors,” impact resistant -windows and doors consist of special glass as well as heavy-duty frames.

Not only are impact windows and doors specifically engineered to withstand high winds and impact from flying debris, they also contain a laminated layer of glass that is less likely to shatter into large shards with the potential to become projectiles in and of themselves during storms.

Why are Impact Windows and Doors Better? 

To understand more about why impact windows and doors are better than regular windows and doors, it’s helpful to understand the forces they’re designed to withstand—starting with tropical cyclones. 

A type of rotating low-pressure weather system, tropical cyclones are categorized according to sustained surface winds:

  • Tropical cyclones with maximum sustained wind speeds of less than 39 MPH are called tropical depressions
  • Tropical cyclones with maximum sustained wind speeds of greater than 39 MPH are called tropical storms
  • Tropical cyclones with maximum sustained wind speeds of more than 74 MPH are hurricanes

Once a tropical cyclone reaches hurricane status, it is given a 1-5 rating on the the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, which also projects property damage.

While Category 3-5 hurricanes are considered “major” hurricanes, all tropical cyclones are potentially life-threatening—both because of high winds and other hazards, including storm surge, rainfall flooding, and tornadoes.

While regular windows are simply not strong enough to combat these threats, impact windows and doors are specifically engineered with this in mind. For this reason, some Florida Business Codes mandate impact-resistant glass in all new construction projects.  

Key Features of Impact Windows and Doors

Several features contribute to the superiority of high-performance, impact resistant windows and doors, including the following:


Regular windows are made with a single layer of glass, AKA “monolithic glass,” that shatters into large shards upon impact.  On the other hand, hurricane resistant windows with laminated glass consist of two pieces of glass with an interlayer between them. Hurricane resistant windows with laminated insulating glass consist of a piece of laminated glass with a monolithic pane added for insulation.

Typically made of polyvinyl butyral (PVB), this thick interlayer functions as a bonding agent. The end result? Laminated glass structures that remain intact—even when struck with great force.

Furthermore, by remaining intact, impact windows and doors also help maintain the structural integrity of buildings and prevent collapses during severe weather events.

Exceptional Strength

A major factor that sets impact windows and doors apart from standard windows and doors is their ability to withstand high design pressures.

Specifically, these products undergo stringent testing to determine their design pressure (DP) rating, which measures the ability to withstand the various forces exerted on it.

This extraordinary strength ensures that buildings are well-protected during hurricane season, as well as during other extreme weather events.

Quality Assurance

Speaking of testing, when you invest in high-performance impact resistant windows and doors from an industry leader like CGI, you can do so with the peace of mind that comes with knowing they’ve undergone rigorous assessments to ensure that they not only meet, but exceed industry standards across multiple factors including:

  • air infiltration
  • water resistance
  • structural performance
  • forced entry

Additional Benefits of Hurricane Windows and Doors

While the primary benefit associated with impact resistant windows and doors pertains to hurricane protection, they offer many other advantages, as well. These include:

Energy Efficiency + Sustainability

Impact windows and doors can be treated with low-emissivity (Low-E) glass coatings, which minimize the transfer of heat and ultraviolet (UV) rays.

By reducing heat gain and loss, this special coating results in reduced energy consumption, lower utility bills, and a more planet-friendly carbon footprint.

Your home will also be more comfortable with fewer drafts.

UV Protection

UV protection also plays an important role in minimizing long-term exposure to the sun’s rays. This is especially noteworthy in Florida, the Sunshine State.

In addition to preventing human exposure to direct sunlight, UV protection can also help maintain the condition of paint, artwork, fabrics, photographs, and other options that would otherwise be susceptible to UV damage.


The same characteristics that make impact glass impenetrable to wind and airborne objects also make it less vulnerable to would-be criminals.

Considering that many break-ins are crimes of opportunity, impact glass reduces the risk of burglars selecting your home. And even if they do, they’ll be thwarted.

Noise Reduction and Privacy

Between their extra-thick layered glass and tight heavy-duty frames, impact windows and doors are an excellent defense against unwanted sound.

Whether you’re looking to keep out the sounds of your neighbor’s lawn mower or to keep your own household’s sounds in, impact windows and doors are an easy way to prevent noise from seeping in or out.

Curb Appeal

Just because impact windows and doors are utilitarian by nature doesn’t mean they can’t also be visually appealing. In fact, today’s impact windows and doors are available in a breadth and depth of sizes, styles, shapes, and colors.

Whatever aesthetic you’re going for—whether it’s modern, contemporary, or traditional look—you can find impact windows and doors that complement the overall architectural style and ambiance of your home.

Resale Value

While investing in high-performance windows and doors has immediate benefits, it also has long-term benefits, including if and when you decide to sell your home.

In fact, while upgrading your windows may not have the same obvious visual impact as some other home remodeling projects, it can have a big financial one. With an estimated ROI of 85 percent, it delivers one of the biggest returns among potential home improvements—besting roof replacements, deck additions, and many others.  

Impact windows and doors can also save you money in other ways, including everything from lower heating and cooling bills to insurance discounts.

Invest in High-Performance CGI Impact Resistant Windows and Doors

Renowned for its commitment to quality, strength, durability, and innovation, CGI is a leading manufacturer of high-performance impact resistant products.

To start protecting your home (and your peace of mind) while also enjoying the many hidden benefits of impact windows and doors compared to regular windows and doors, contact your local dealer for a quote today.

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