Did you know California is the most wildfire-prone area in the United States? As a homeowner living in this beautiful (yet dangerous) region, we understand you want to do everything you can to protect your home from potential wildfire damage.
You may have already installed fire-resistant siding and a roofing system to ward off wildfires—but have you paid much attention to your windows? Fire-rated windows can prevent flames from spreading and protect your family, home, and neighborhood from costly damage.
Read more about fire-rated windows below to determine if they are a worthwhile investment for your Southern California home!
Standard Glass vs. Fire-Rated Glass
Fire-rated glass is a functional, tough window material uniquely designed to prevent the spread of flames. Although fire-rated glass can’t extinguish a fire, it can play a critical role in slowing the spread of flames. This means that fire-rated glass will not only lessen damage to your home during a fire, but it can mitigate the destruction caused by wildfires—a significant concern for homeowners in Southern California.
Standard glass shatters at around 250°F, and tempered glass shatters at 500°F, but most house fires burn at roughly 1,100°F. Regular windows cannot fend off fires and begin to crack, break, and shatter just minutes after exposure to the heat of the flames. Once your windows are broken, the fiery inferno will spread quickly through your home, destroying the furniture, appliances, and family mementos in its way.
In comparison, fire-rated glass can withstand temperatures of up to 1,500°F. Windows made with this durable material create a reliable barrier that can prevent the spread of fire, smoke, flames, and heat. They’re also required to pass safety testing set by national organizations and run by independent laboratories to ensure they will stand up in emergencies, like wildfires.
Types of Fire-Rated Glass
There are two primary types of fire-rated glass—polished wire glass and ceramic glass.
Polished Wire Glass
Polished wire glass is made with wire mesh embedded into the glass during the manufacturing process. Polished wire glass has been around for over a century, so it’s cheaper than other alternatives. However, wire mesh has been shown to cause injuries if the window shatters, so many of these windows are being replaced with more modern (and safer) fire-rated options.
Ceramic glass is made with fire-resistant glazing rather than wire reinforcements. Since it’s clear, it’s more attractive than polished wired glass. Ceramic glass also has a higher impact safety rating, making it an overall safer choice. Most of the fire-rated windows on the market today are made with ceramic glass.
How Can I Tell If I Have Fire-Rated Windows?
Wondering if you have fire-rated windows? Here are some ways you can tell if your windows will stand up in a fire:
Number of Panes
Single-pane windows are old, outdated, and prone to breaking during wildfires.
Though they’re not specifically designed for fire safety, windows with multiple panes, like double-pane or triple-pane windows, offer much better protection during a fire. Since these windows include several layers, even if the outer layers break, your home won’t succumb to the flames immediately, giving your family time to escape and the fire department time to arrive.
Standard glass may break in as little as one minute after being exposed to a flame. Although ceramic and polished wire glass are the only fire-rated window materials, tempered glass is a much better option than standard glass if fire-rated glass isn’t in your budget.
The best way to tell if you have fire-rated windows is by the fire-resistance rating. The longer a window can contain flames and smoke—the better. California windows must have at least a 20-minute fire-resistance rating, though a 45-minute rating (or higher) is ideal.
Learn More About Fire-Rated Windows with Approved Contractor
If you want to learn more about replacing your current windows with fire-rated windows, reach out to our team at Approved Contractor. We’re local to Southern California, so we understand the unique challenges of living in an area prone to wildfires. Because of this, we’re committed to helping you protect your home, family, and precious memories with safe, durable, fire-resistant windows that last!
Learn more about the various materials, colors, and window styles we offer to accommodate your unique needs, budget, and goals for your home.