Are hurricane windows required in Florida?
Photo by Fabrizio Verrecchia
Florida’s Building Code requires impact windows or exterior protection used over the windows of homes in some areas of the state. In fact, certain counties and cities may have even more stringent requirements for their resident’s windows. If you’re planning to replace your windows, make sure you get the correct kind to meet your county or municipalities requirements.
What are Hurricane Windows?
Hurricane windows are designed specifically for areas that are hit by hurricanes on a regular basis. These windows may be constructed of stronger materials, with a more durable design, and using special glass. Hurricane windows in Miami are tested according to the state and county regulations where you live and certified as meeting those basic requirements.
There are two basic kinds of glass used in hurricane windows:
- Impact-Resistant: Made from two pieces of glass sandwiched together with a thin sheet of plastic. When broken the glass adheres to the plastic and remains in the frame.
- Tempered Glass: Made from heat-treated glass that is brought to a high temperature and rapidly cooled to compress the edges. It breaks into small fragments, rather than shards, when broken which minimizes the hazard to people.
The Basic Requirements of the Florida Building Code for Windows
In 2001, after the devastating damage caused by Hurricane Andrew, the Florida Building Code (FBC) Association established stronger requirements for wind and debris resistant housing. The association incorporated certain requirements for hurricane resistant windows that apply to homes within 1 mile of the coast where the wind speed can reach 110 m.p.h. or greater.
However, the code also allows counties and municipalities to establish stricter regulations than required by the FBC. So, you’ll want to check with your city’s building code department to find out what codes your windows need to meet where you live.
The current version of the FBC offers three basic options for protecting your windows:
- You can install impact-resistant windows that pass one of these tests; Miami-Dade TAS 201, 202 and 203 or ASTM E1886 and E1996 impact tests.
- You can install precut plywood shutters that are a minimum of 7/16-inch thick. These shutters must also be installed with a code-appropriate anchorage system.
- You can install shutters of another material that are of an approved design type, such as roll down, panel, or accordion. They must pass one of these tests; Miami-Dade protocols TAS 201, 202 and 203 or ASTM E1886 and E1996 impact tests.
High Velocity Hurricane Zones
If you live in Miami-County or Broward County, you are considered to be living in a High Velocity Hurricane Zone (HVHZ). These are areas where the wind speeds can be even higher during a hurricane, as much as 180 m.p.h. or greater.
Both Miami-Dade and Broward County have established more stringent building codes and their own testing protocols. Residents will want to make sure their windows are specifically evaluated and approved for HVHZs before having them installed.
If you are planning on replacing your windows, turn to FHIA Remodeling. We’re a hurricane window company serving South Florida. Our team is familiar with state building codes and can source exceptionally strong Miami impact-resistant windows for your property. Give us a call or fill out our online form to begin with a free consultation and window replacement quote today.