When you’re looking for storm damage mitigation barriers for your property, you’re likely to come across a lot of different terms. There is a big variety of hurricane shutters out there, as well as alternatives to storm shutters, including impact-resistant hurricane windows.
So, we wrote this article to clear up some of the differences between two of the most popular storm damage protection options out there: Bahama shutters and impact windows.
An Introduction To Bahama Shutters
Bahama shutters, also known as Bermuda shutters, are a type of storm shutter that is mounted on the exterior of a residential or commercial property, above the building’s windows.
The shutters are hinged at the top and prop open when not in use, serving the dual purpose of providing shade in good weather and being easy to drop into place during inclement weather.
Bahama shutters are one-piece storm shutters, meaning that each shutter is designed to completely cover one window. Modern Bahama storm shutters are often made out of robust aluminum, but there are also wooden varieties available.
Many business owners prefer Bahama storm shutters over other types of permanent hurricane shutters, such as metal roll-down shutters, because they are far more aesthetically pleasing and decorative. The wooden or metal louvers also allow some natural light in when the shutters are in place.
They are a particularly attractive option for commercial properties where curb appeal is a priority, including cafes, restaurants, bars, hotels, resorts, and other hospitality businesses.
Hurricane Impact Windows Intro
Hurricane impact windows are an alternative to hurricane shutters that provide as good as (or better) protection against storm damage.
There are various types of hurricane impact windows made out of different impact-resistant materials, such as laminated security glass or polycarbonate and acrylic security laminates.
Impact windows are becoming increasingly popular as an alternative to all the traditional types of hurricane and storm shutters, especially for commercial properties of all types.
This is because impact windows offer many advantages over other types of shutters. For starters, once they are installed, they don’t require you to put them in place before a storm — they provide 24/7 storm damage protection.
Additionally, impact windows don’t significantly alter the appearance of a building or change the functionality of its windows. The impact-resistant glass (or glass-like material) looks, feels, and functions just like traditional window glass, so you don’t have to worry about blocking views or natural light, among other things.
Besides acting as a virtually invisible storm damage mitigation barrier, impact windows also provide round-the-clock protection against a wide range of other security threats. Since the windows are so impact resistant, they are ideal for preventing the following: vandalism, smash-and-grab theft, forced entry, burglary, and riot or hurricane looting.
As we touched on earlier, one of the biggest reasons why business owners often choose Bahama shutters over other types of storm shutters is that they are decorative in addition to being functional.
Bahama or Bermuda shutters can give many types of commercial buildings a Caribbean-style architectural look that works well for them, especially if located in beachy, touristy areas (like in Florida or elsewhere along the coastal southeastern US).
Bahama shutters are available in a wide variety of colors and can be custom-built to fit almost any property’s windows. They can be used to add curb appeal and value in addition to storm damage protection.
As we mentioned above, Bahama shutters are popular because they can enhance the curb appeal of buildings, especially when you’re going for a certain style of islandy vibe.
But…what if you didn’t have to change the appearance of your property at all to get permanent storm damage protection? That’s what the appeal of storm-damage-resistant windows is.
Hurricane impact windows can be retrofitted onto almost any property, using the existing window framing systems as support for the security framing and impact-resistant security glass or polycarbonate/acrylic panels.
This means there’s no damage to the building’s surrounding materials, and all the existing glass and framing remains in place (with the glass fully protected behind the new security windows).
With other types of hurricane shutters, you have to put them into place as soon as a storm or hurricane watch is issued for your area. This means blocking views, preventing natural light from filtering in, and potentially making a business look closed and deterring would-be customers.
With impact windows, the storm damage mitigation barriers are always in place and virtually invisible, so you can keep doing business as usual while you’re waiting to see if a storm actually hits or not.
Plus, if you’re looking for an all-in-one solution to secure a commercial building against storm damage and other threats, including forced entry and burglary, retrofitting impact-resistant security windows is a very cost-effective option.
Bahama storm shutters can be hurricane rated and Florida Building Code/Miami-Dade Building Code approved, meaning that they provide a very high level of protection against storm debris and wind damage.
Hurricane impact windows also undergo impact testing to receive the same kinds of impact-resistance ratings and approvals as Bahama hurricane shutters.
However, it’s important to note that not all products marketed as “hurricane windows” are actually tested and rated to withstand impacts from storm debris hurled by hurricane-force winds. So, always make sure to do your research and choose products with sufficient impact-resistance rating levels for your area.
Additionally, impact windows can achieve various other impact-resistance ratings and certifications for forced entry resistance and even ballistic resistance, so you have more options in terms of the level of security you can achieve with them.
Comparatively, it is much easier for an intruder to tamper with hurricane shutters to force entry to your business, so they are not a strong option when you want to protect against man-made threats in addition to mother nature.
Bahama shutters can make a pretty addition to many types of commercial properties and can provide a high level of storm damage protection. But, they have their downsides as well and are not the right option for all types of commercial buildings or all business owners’ security needs.
We highly recommend considering storm-damage-resistant security windows, such as our Riot Glass® RG series of retrofit security glass or our ArmorPlast® AP line of polycarbonate security glazing.
Contact us today for a consultation or have your local glass contractor give us a call to discuss your storm damage mitigation options and choose the best solution for you and your property.