Most people think of a window’s function as simply to allow light and air into the home. Here in Florida, windows need to do a little more than that: it must allow the sun’s light to pass through, but not its heat; it must keep cool conditioned air inside, but not allow condensation to form on the surface of the glass; it must not allow hot, humid outside air to leak into the home in summer, nor allow warm conditioned air to leak out of the house in winter; and, as Hurricanes Andrew, Irma and other significant storms have demonstrated, windows are traditionally a key point of entry for storm-force winds, hail, rain, and wind-borne debris, so ideally a Florida window must also be impact-resistant. (University of Florida IFAS Extension).
For complete protection from the elements, the two most common (and strongest) window frame materials in southern Florida are aluminum and steel. Wood also offers good insulating value, but needs to be regularly painted. Over time, wood is also susceptible to warping.
Now let’s discuss the rest of the window, i.e. the all-important glass that sits within. SentryGlas Plus (SGP), according to Juan Rodriguez for The Balance Small Business, is a technology created by DuPont which consists of an interlayer of proprietary inoplast material that sits between panes of glass. SentryGlas is lighter in weight, stronger, and less susceptible to yellowing over time than other storm-proof options, with an SGP thickness layer of 0.90 inches. Although these windows are more common for commercial windows, they can be ordered for residential purposes for greater protection of your investment. SGP is so strong, in fact, that the technology is also used in bomb- or bullet-proof glass. This also makes SGP among the most expensive hurricane-resistant windows, but of course completely worth it.
Also up there in quality window design is the process where liquid glass resins are permanently applied to the glass by a process that uses UV light as a catalyst to cure and harden it. In some versions, a PET film is also added to make the glass even stronger. Liquid glass resin windows are especially popular here in Florida for their durability and impact resistance in the event of a hurricane.
In our tropical climate, not only do you want impact-resistant windows but also ones that can cut down the amount of heat-inducing sunlight that gets in. Hard to believe, but there are also those rare days in Florida that can get chilly. Typically, those days are also accompanied by a strong breeze or wind. Your windows therefore should also be able to keep out the elements at these times. The Efficient Windows Collaborative recommends checking the ENERGY STAR® specifications and ensure that the windows you select meet or exceed energy code requirements for southwest Florida.
For exact specifications you can try the computer simulation program called RESFEN. This program allows you to compare window options by calculating performance based on utility rates for our climate, house design and window design options.
There are several window styles that are popular at the moment. Modern architecture styles in southern Florida have been leaning toward Refined Coastal over the last several years, featuring high vaulted ceilings for optimal air flow. Homes will often feature floor to ceiling windows and quite often a skylight or two to complement the design while offering views of the beautiful Florida landscape. Several southern Florida-based window dealers/installers offer designer fixed windows that will add a luxurious look to any room in the house while also providing optimal energy efficiency and impact resistance. Some of the more popular manufacturers of these windows include Andersen, Pella, Simonton Windows and CGI Windows.
With close to 20 years of high-end construction behind us, J. Sweet Construction can offer an educated opinion on the best window choice for your southwest Florida home. Honesty and integrity are behind every project we do.