Hurricane Season & Its Impact on Windows & Doors

The damage wrought by multiple Category 4 and 5 hurricanes within the span of a month serves as a stark reminder that hurricane season is upon us, and by all measures, 2017 will be one for the record books.

While residents of states along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts are encouraged to stock up on water, batteries, and other essentials in case of a storm, these regions are also seeing growing investment in windows and doors that can endure high-speed winds and windborne debris. 

According to analysts at The Freedonia Group, sales of impact-resistant windows and doors – a small but quickly expanding segment of the overall fenestration market – are forecast to increase 7.5% annually through 2021.  Sales are expected to rise as a result of new construction activity and stricter building codes, as well as eroding complacency in at-risk coastal areas.

Protecting the Building Envelope in the Post-Andrew Era

Hurricane Andrew hit the southeastern coast of Florida in 1992, resulting in one of the most expensive natural disasters in US history.  The devastation wrought by this storm prompted significant changes to the Florida Building Code, including stricter wind load and windborne debris requirements for windows, doors, and skylights. 

For instance, in the High Velocity Hurricane Zone – which encompasses southern Florida’s Miami-Dade and Broward counties – windows must withstand wind velocities of between 150 and 180 mph (depending on the location and building type), and feature additional impact protection through shutters or impact-resistant glazing.

Passive versus Active Resistance

Impact-resistant windows and doors are a type of “passive” protection, meaning they are designed to meet wind load and impact requirements without any additional activity.  Shutters, in contrast, are a type of “active” protection.

Impact products are typically manufactured with highly durable, reinforced exteriors, as well as laminated safety glass.  This specialty glass is designed so that if cracked, the shards remain in the frame – preventing wind, rain, and debris from damaging the building’s interior and contributing to more extensive damage. 

Most of the major window and door manufacturers now offer impact-rated products, including popular brands such as WinDoor and WinGuard (PGT Innovations), ImpactGard (JELD-WEN), Integrity (Marvin), and HurricaneShield (Pella).  PGT Innovations, which acquired WinDoor in 2016, controls the largest share of Florida’s impact-resistant window and door market.

(Check out video demonstrations of PGT’s WinGuard and Pella’s HurricaneShield products.)

In addition to impact resistance, these windows and doors offer additional benefits that support sales, including superior:

  • energy efficiency
  • noise reduction
  • fade protection from harmful UV rays
  • added security and protection from burglary

Here Comes the Storm

While the larger impetus will come from new housing activity and the enforcement of strict building codes, concerns about the next big storm will continue to drive replacement sales of impact-resistant windows and doors. 

For instance, suppliers of impact-rated products saw an uptick in sales following 2016’s Hurricane Matthew, which skirted the coasts of Florida and Georgia before making landfall in South Carolina.  The threat of catastrophic damage from this storm (at one point a Category 5 hurricane) spurred many homeowners to take preemptive action to protect their homes from future cyclones.  High costs, however, have kept impact-rated products beyond the reach of many other residents.

Interest in hurricane-rated windows and doors is likely to increase on the heels of 2017’s historic hurricane season, with property losses from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma alone estimated at between $150 and $200 billion and expected to rise.

Find Out More!

To learn more about key trends in the US window and door markets, check out three new reports from The Freedonia Group:  Windows Market in the USDoors Market in the USand Windows & Doors Market Forecast in the US.   These reports offer analysis covering:

  • key material trends
  • leading markets (residential and commercial)
  • major product types (e.g., double-hung & casement windows; entry & patio doors)
  • trends by US region and subregion
  • industry composition and market share

About the Author:

Carolyn Zulandt is an Industry Analyst at the Freedonia Group where her work covers topics related to the US and Global Chemicals and Construction and Building Products markets.