How to Protect Windows From Storm Damage
Protecting windows from the storm damage caused by flying debris or high winds is an important step homeowners should take to keep their family and home safe during hurricane season. Hurricane window coverings and hurricane shutters can help to safeguard your home against damage, broken glass, and other storm-related emergencies.
Homeowners have several options for protecting windows before a hurricane or strong storm system impacts their area. Being prepared before a storm strikes can save you money in the long run, and provide your family with safety and an invaluable peace of mind. Let’s explore some of the most common options for hurricane window protection and types of hurricane shutters.
Types of Window Coverings and Screens for Hurricane Protection
Below are several types of coverings and window screens you can install to protect your windows and home from storm damage.
1. Security Film
Also known as security or safety window film, this is a low-cost hurricane covering option that most DIY homeowners can pick up from their local hardware store. This coated film is applied to the inside of windows to help protect from storm damage caused by small debris. Tinted options are also available for daily protection from UV rays.
Security film acts to reduce shattering in the case of impact. This can potentially keep the entire window pane intact, rather than breaking into dangerous shards during a storm. However, the film doesn’t prevent the glass from breaking entirely or dislodging from its frame. Thus, most window insurance companies will not offer discounts for security film.
It’s important to note that while security film has some benefits, it is not a substitute for approved hurricane barriers detailed below.
2. Hurricane Fabric
Hurricane fabric, as the name suggests, is a flexible fabric that resembles the material used in trampolines. And much like a trampoline, the fabric works by bouncing debris away from windows on impact (though be vigilant – it might bounce into your vehicle or a neighbor’s property). However, larger debris can still rip through the fabric.
Homeowners can benefit from its low cost and ability to be temporarily installed and stored, as needed. Some homeowners even opt to keep the fabric, which offers good visibility, installed year-round.
The most common and least expensive way to protect windows from storm damage is boarding up with plywood. This option provides protection from most forms of debris, but requires the most work by homeowners and is only a temporary solution to protect from immediate storm damage.
Homeowners will need to purchase plywood that is eight inches larger on each side than the window they are covering. Then, secure the plywood to the home’s walls using heavy-duty screws and anchors (in wood) or expansion bolts (in masonry). Most homeowners will be able to store the plywood for repeated use, labeling each piece to save time on the next installation.
It’s important to remember that boarding windows will block light from entering the home, which can be an issue if power is lost. Plywood must also be installed at the last minute, meaning it won’t offer day-to-day storm damage protection.
Types of Hurricane Shutters
Compared to DIY window coverings and screens, hurricane shutters are an effective, long-term solution to mitigate storm damage. They come in a variety of styles and types, including:
Accordion hurricane shutters
Accordion hurricane shutters are least expensive option for homeowners in need of hurricane window protection, though they lack the curb appeal of other options. While safety should be the first consideration, it’s worth remembering most shutters will be installed permanently on a home. Simply unfold them like an accordion and lock them into place when a storm approaches.
Colonial hurricane shutters
These hurricane shutters are more decorative and less bulky than the accordion variety. They are made of two pieces that fold together over the window, providing more natural and attractive protection than accordion shutters.
Bahama hurricane shutters
Bahama shutters are single-piece, awning-like hurricane shutters that hang over your windows. Homeowners can also benefit from the shade they provide on a day-to-day basis, making them multi-functional.
Roll-down hurricane shutters
The most expensive and effective option for homeowners, these shutters are stored in a small rectangular box installed above your home’s windows and rolled down as needed. They can also be used for exterior doors featuring glass, like sliding glass patio doors, and are typically made of metal or durable plastic. While both automatic and manual options are available, keep in mind that if your home loses power, automatic features may not function.
While hurricane shutters can be costly, they might be worth the investment if you live in a hurricane-prone region.
Hurricane Impact-Resistant Glass
Hurricane glass, also known as high-impact or storm windows, is typically made of two panes of tempered glass separated by a plastic film. They are designed to be impact-resistant during a storm. This also makes it an efficient security upgrade overall, offering protection beyond just storm damage.
Since hurricane glass looks like normal windows, they will not affect your home’s appearance or curb appeal. They do require professional installation, and often require new window frames. However, they provide some of the most effective, lasting protection against storm damage. Hurricane glass typically qualifies for discounts on homeowners insurance plans.
Hurricane Window Protection Myths
A common myth is that duct taping a large X on your windows will offer some minimal protection during a hurricane. In reality, tape will not make windows stronger or prevent them from breaking under impact. Rather, should windows break, they will become projectiles as larger pieces. Homeowners are always seeking extra peace of mind during any storm, but taped windows should be avoided.
In addition, do not crack the windows open during a hurricane. Some homeowners think leaving a window slightly open can prevent pressure build-up that causes them to shatter. Quite the opposite – leaving a window cracked allows powerful storm winds to enter your home, increasing pressure inside your home.
Remember, storm preparation starts long before your home is in the path of a hurricane storm system. Getting an early, off-season start can help you save money and avoid timely waits. Other home improvement projects to look into ahead of hurricane season are:
If you believe your home or windows have already undergone storm damage, learn how to detect and repair the damage before it’s too late.
Speak with the pros at Modernize today to get connected with a trusted window contractor in your area to install hurricane shutters, glass, or other features to protect your home and family from storm damage.