Stronger PVC Windows Qualify for Use in Florida High-Rise

PORT RITCHIE, Fla., – Thanks to new and stronger frame designs, storm resistant vinyl windows can be installed in high-rise buildings in Florida, where previously the wind and water loads could only be met by aluminum windows.

Custom Window Systems (CWS) of Ocala, Fla., has installed its new vinyl Wind-Pact Plus Large Missile Impact windows and sliding glass doors in a nine-story condo on the Port Ritchie waterfront.

Port Ritchie is on the West Coast of Florida, but the windows meet the stringent Miami-Dade protocols required in the two East Coast counties located in the high velocity hurricane zone (140 miles an hour or more).

Although CWS has manufactured aluminum windows for 23 years, the company recognizes that “the future of window frames is PVC,” according to Ron Goins, director of sales development. Goins explained that most of their clients had lived in the north and were used to replacing their wood or aluminum windows with PVC. That’s what they are looking for in their new homes. “But what is strong enough in the north is not strong enough for Florida,” Goins said, so CWS designed a new frame.

The more cavities there are within the structure or “profile” of the frame, the stronger the frame, Goins explained. CWS designed a frame with 17 cavities (typical windows outside of Florida might have half that number). “All of these pockets add strength,” he said, “which is why a beehive is very strong.” Also, acting as air pockets, the larger number of cavities increase energy efficiency.  With the new profile and some aluminum reinforcement, the windows qualified for use in high-rise buildings.

As for single family homes, Goins said that PVC is becoming the preferred window material for high-end builders and remodelers in Florida.

“Architects like vinyl’s imperviousness to salt air, as well as the fact that it can meet the impact wind requirements in Florida,” said Joe Hums, regional sales manager at Mikron Industries, a Kent, Wash.-based PVC extrusion company that manufactures vinyl frames.

The strengthened windows help preserve the building’s envelope during violent weather. Goins explained that if the windows fail, the wind rushing into the building can cause an increase in pressure that could lift the roof or push the walls outward.

These are important issues with 2008 hurricane season about to begin June 1. The Houston-based Weather Research Center has forecast at least 11 named tropical storms, with six becoming hurricanes.

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