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Are Hurricane Windows Burglar Resistant?

The Case of Hurricane Glass vs. Home Intruders

Dear Glass Detective,

I want to replace the windows in my beach house in New Jersey (4 blocks from the beach) in order to protect against intruders. I already have hurricane glass in my Florida house. They say that, in New Jersey, hurricane glass is the same as laminated glass. Is that true? And would what I call laminated glass to protect against intruders?

Len W.
Atlantic City, NJ

Laminated Glass vs. Hurricane Glass

Dear Len,

Thank you for making contact with the Glass Detective regarding your desire to install a glass product in your New Jersey beach house windows that would resist intruder break-ins. You specifically asked if the “hurricane glass” (actually hurricane-resistant glass) in your Florida home would be the same as hurricane resistant glass that may be used in your New Jersey home. The quick and simple answer is yes.

I am not familiar with New Jersey glazing codes for homes in your proximity to a beach. I believe they have changed dramatically in the past few years, but you should be able to confirm this easily with the state. If we assume they are the same as they are in Florida, the glass will be the same. Hurricane windows are manufactured using multiple pieces of glass with a PolyVinyl Butyral (PVB) laminated interlayer.

PVB is a plastic resin which is very tough, yet flexible, and also optically clear. Laminated glass is the same type of glass used in automotive windshields, which are tough enough to withstand harsh everyday driving conditions and even act as a safety feature in the event of a crash. In the event that the glass breaks, the layer of PVB holds the broken pieces in place and helps the glass retain some of its structural integrity.

Broken laminated glass door

Because of its strength, hurricane-resistant windows, also known as impact-resistant windows, or sometimes simply hurricane windows, gained a lot of traction after Hurricane Andrew devastated the southeastern United States in 1992. Florida law eventually mandated that any home built after 2001 be built with hurricane-resistant windows or hurricane shutters.

From a security standpoint, an intruder may be able to get through laminated glass, but it is substantially harder to do so and the additional time and effort needed to break through is the primary detriment, not to mention the noise created by the effort. The glass products that have been considered “burglary resistant” in the past typically were composed of multiple pieces of glass with PVB interlayers (laminated glass).

There are also polycarbonate and glass products that get laminated together for security purposes, known as glass-clad polycarbonate, but these get costly and are usually found in high-security installations such as prisons.

I hope this information is of value to you and I thank you for contacting the Glass Detective.

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