Storm Protection

The Truth About Hurricane Window Film

By | Blog, Storm Protection

In hurricane zones like the Southeastern United States, especially in Florida, you may have noticed businesses promoting a type of shutterless hurricane glass protection called hurricane window film.

What they’re really referring to in this case is actually something called safety and security window film. This type of window film is not approved in Florida as a substitute for hurricane protection products like shutters and storm panels.

Even though it’s not an approved hurricane protection product, safety and security window film can play a role in adding an extra layer of security to your glass doors and windows. Keep reading to find out what the many benefits of security window film are.


Why the Term Hurricane Window Film Is a Misnomer

And Why You Shouldn’t Rely Solely on Window Film for Hurricane Protection

Here’s the real story about hurricane film for windows: 

Over the last decade or so, builders and homeowners have been met with increasingly stricter requirements regarding the impact resistance of window glass and the hurricane mitigation barriers installed during remodels and new construction.

Because of this, some companies saw an opportunity to start advertising safety and security window film as hurricane window film, when in fact many reputable manufacturers of these types of films clearly state that it is not meant to be relied upon for hurricane protection.

The below notice is straight from the 3M™ website (the manufacturers of the safety and security window film we supply):

“This product is not approved in the State of Florida for use as hurricane, windstorm or impact protection from wind-borne debris from a hurricane or windstorm. 

In compliance with Florida Statute 553.842, this product may not be advertised, sold, offered, provided, distributed or marketed in the State of Florida as hurricane, windstorm or impact protection from wind-borne debris from a hurricane or windstorm.”

All this is not to say that security window film doesn’t have any merits. It DOES add a layer of security to your glass that can increase the safety of you and your property during a storm.

So, how can you use security window film for hurricane protection? To explain that let’s take a closer look at how these types of films work and what they are designed to do.


Using Window Film to Keep Glass Intact During a Storm

First off, it’s important to understand exactly what window films like 3M™ safety and security window film are made of and how they’re installed. These types of films are really a pliable polyester mylar coating that gets applied right to the surface of your existing glass.

Security window film DOES NOT prevent glass from breaking and is not a cheap alternative to real impact-resistant glass like laminated security glass. However, the film can hold broken shards of glass in place and help a glass door or window retain its shape after an impact.

During a storm with high-speed winds, window film can prevent sharp shards of glass flying dangerously inwards towards you and anyone else sheltering inside the building. It can also help keep out rainwater and storm debris by holding the broken glass in place.

This means that you’ll still have to replace broken glass after a storm, but you may avoid injuries and water damage because of the effects of the installed window film. 

That being said, if you live in a hurricane zone, you should always have other hurricane mitigation barriers ready to go. Whether those are good old fashioned plywood boards or roll-down metal shutters, window film is no substitute for the strength of those barriers.

Key takeaways about using security film for storm protection:

  • Can prevent shards of glass from flying dangerously inwards
  • Can help broken glass doors and windows retain their shape
  • Is NOT a substitute for approved hurricane barriers like shutters
  • DOES NOT prevent glass from breaking under impact
  • Can reduce the risk of personal injury and water damage to property

Are There Any Other Benefits of Window Film?

Why You Should Consider Installing Window Film for Storm Protection and More

Now that you have a better understanding of the role that security films can play in strengthening your window glass during a storm, you might be wondering if there are any other benefits it can provide. The answer is yes!

Here are some of the other ways window film can improve the performance of your glass:

  • Deter forced entry
  • Add privacy
  • Block UV rays
  • Reduce glare
  • Control heat
  • Reduce energy use


Deter Forced Entry

The same properties that make security films a good option to prevent flying shards of glass and help glass doors and windows also make them an effective deterrent to forced entry attempts.

When a would-be intruder attempts to smash through a panel of glass to gain entry to your property, they’ll be surprised to see that it doesn’t immediately shatter inwards like standard window glass does.

Though it won’t stop a determined intruder from eventually breaking through the glass, the delay and surprise caused by the film can cause the criminal to think twice about continuing their break-and-enter attempt and move on to find an easier target.


Add Privacy

Standard security films are clear, but window tinting can also be applied using films to darken your windows or make them reflective for added daytime privacy. 

This is not only great for making ground floor rooms more private, but also adds more security to your property by making it harder for prowlers to see what’s on the other side of your window glass.

Block UV Rays and Reduce Glare

Many types of films also have UV blocking properties that prevent up to 99.9% of the sun’s harmful UV rays from passing through your windows. 

These rays that can damage your skin are the same rays that cause furnishings placed near windows to fade over time. UV blocking films drastically slow the effects of fading.

Additionally, glare blocking films can be used to reduce the amount of glare coming through your windows. This is great if you want to make it more comfortable to look at a computer or TV screen near sunny windows.


Control Heat and Reduce Energy Use

There are also special heat blocking films and low-e, or low-emissivity, window films available. These can be used to make indoor temperatures more comfortable and reduce your use of HVAC systems to lower your monthly utility bill.

The enhanced climate control provided by certain types of films can be a real lifesaver (and money saver) in the hot and humid Southeastern climate!


If you take one thing away from this article, let it be a warning not to believe anyone trying to tell you that they have some type of magical hurricane film for windows. No film eliminates the need for other storm damage mitigation barriers.

We also want to stress that security window films DO have many beneficial properties that can make your glass doors and windows less vulnerable to storm damage and other threats, as well as enhance the overall performance of your glass.

Contact us today for more information about how we can help you strengthen your home or business security with our window films and other security glass products.

Hurricane Window Protection: What Options Do You Have?

By | Blog, Storm Protection

If you live in a region that’s prone to hurricanes and other types of tropical storms, such as Florida or another area of the Southeastern United States, you definitely need some type of hurricane protection for windows and doors.

Hurricane window protection products not only protect your property from expensive damage but also keep you and anyone else inside safe during a storm. This layer of physical protection is absolutely essential to prevent potentially devastating financial losses and injuries.


Why Do You Need Hurricane Protection For Windows and Doors?

The Importance of Choosing the Right Hurricane Window Protectors

At some point, you’ve probably seen how much damage a flying pebble or a stray golf ball can do to a window or a sliding glass door. Now try to picture what would happen if the same object was hurled at the glass by hurricane-force winds — not pretty, right?

Fact: even category 1 hurricanes can have sustained winds with speeds up to 95 mph. Category 5 hurricanes can have winds with speeds of more than 155 mph!

Not only does storm debris have the potential to cause damage that’s expensive to clean up and repair, but shattered glass can fly dangerously inwards and potentially cause serious injuries to those inside.

Besides that, a broken door or window allows water into your home during a storm, which can lead to flooding that’s even more of a hassle (and costs more) to clean up.

In short, your glass doors and windows are extremely vulnerable during a hurricane or another type of strong windstorm. 

You might be hesitant to make hurricane improvements to your home or business, but trust us when we say that you’ll be happy you did so when your property gets caught in the midst of a ferocious storm. 

In addition to saving you money on glass replacement and storm damage cleanup, hurricane protection improvements can also save you money on your insurance premiums. 

For example, in Miami-Dade County, adding modern hurricane protection to an older home can save you thousands of dollars a year with some insurers.

Top reasons to make hurricane protection improvements to your property:

  • Avoid broken glass doors and windows that require glass replacement
  • Prevent injury due to flying shards of glass
  • Keep water out of your home or business during a storm
  • Save money on annual insurance premiums


How to Protect Windows During Hurricanes

A Closer Look At Your Hurricane Window Protection Options

Luckily, there are a variety of storm window protection methods and products available for you to choose from, so you can find something that suits your goals and budget. However, not all methods are equal in terms of their aesthetics and the level of security they provide.

When it comes to choosing the best solution for your property, it’s important to consider the method’s convenience, its strength, and how the product will affect the curb appeal of your home or business.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common, affordable, and effective options available to you when it comes to fortifying your property against storm damage:

  1. Plywood Boards
  2. Hurricane Fabric
  3. Storm Panels
  4. Hurricane Shutters
  5. Laminated Security Glass

Plywood Boards

Boarding up windows and doors is a popular way to protect properties during storms because it’s relatively cheap, but very effective at protecting glass from storm damage. However, it does have its disadvantages.

For starters, this is a very labor-intensive hurricane protection strategy because it requires you to measure and cut pieces of plywood ahead of time to fit over all your window and door glass.

When it comes time to board up your home or business, you’ll need some help nailing or screwing the boards into place. 

The boards also block out natural light, cut off your visibility, and leave your property looking very uninviting. This can especially be a problem if you’re a business owner and you want to be prepared for a pending hurricane, but remain open until when/if the storm actually hits the area.

When there’s no storm coming, you’ll have to keep all those plywood boards in storage somewhere until you actually need to use them. This can take up a lot of space and leave an unsightly pile of boards somewhere on your property.

All that being said, if you’re on a budget and don’t mind doing the labor and storing the boards, plywood can be a very cost-effective choice for protecting your property from storm damage in a pinch.

Pros of board-ups:

  • Creates a strong, durable barrier
  • Deflects storm debris and keeps glass intact
  • Very affordable

Cons of board-ups:

  • Labor intensive
  • Requires lots of storage space
  • Blocks out natural light
  • Visually unappealing


Hurricane Fabric

Hurricane fabric is a special type of product on the market that’s basically a piece of trampoline-like fabric you stretch over your windows to deflect flying storm debris.

This type of fabric is a preferred method of storm window protection for some people because it is easy to install and take down. It also doesn’t take up nearly as much storage space as plywood boards do. 

Another plus of hurricane fabric is that it still allows some natural light to filter through your windows.

However, hurricane fabric is definitely not as strong as boards and other types of hurricane protection products and high-velocity storm debris can still potentially tear through it. There’s also the risk that debris that bounces off of the fabric damages other nearby property.

Pros of hurricane fabric:

  • Easy to use
  • Takes up very little storage space
  • Allows some natural light in

Cons of hurricane fabric:

  • Weaker than other materials
  • Deflected debris can damage other property in the area


Storm Panels

Think of storm panels as the commercial alternative to plywood boards. These types of panels are typically made of corrugated metal or plastic sheets that are cut to fit over your glass doors and windows.

As with boards, these panels are fixed to the side of a building and stay there to protect your glass until you’re ready to take them down. The corrugated design and materials used in their construction make storm panels very strong and effective at preventing storm damage.

Storm panels do share some of the same disadvantages as plywood boards, though. Mainly that you’ll have to find a place to store them when you’re not using them, they require a bit of labor to install, and they aren’t very attractive.

Metal storm panels also block out your natural light and leave you without any visibility through your windows. However, there are clear storm panels available that still allow some light into your home or business and let you see a bit outside.

If you decide to use storm panels to protect your property from storm damage, you have the option of leaving them up all hurricane season. If you choose to do so, you might want to go with clear panels which are more aesthetically pleasing than their metal counterparts.

Pros of storm panels:

  • Very strong
  • Custom-cut to fit over your glass
  • Can be left up all storm season

Cons of storm panels:

  • Unattractive
  • Require storage space
  • Need to be installed before a storm


Hurricane Shutters

There are a wide variety of hurricane shutters available on the market. Out of the more traditional hurricane window protection options, shutters are the most practical and visually appealing, but also the most expensive.

The main types of hurricane shutters are:

  • Roll-down hurricane shutters
  • Colonial-style louvered shutters
  • Bermuda shutters or Bahama shutters
  • Accordion shutters


Roll-down shutters roll up into a metal box that’s permanently fixed above your windows. When it’s time to prepare for a storm, you lower the metal shutters into place using a hand crank or by pressing a button for electronic varieties.

Colonial-style shutters consist of two louvered shutter panels that are attached to the wall beside a window. You just fold them in towards each other over the window to protect the glass.

Bermuda or Bahama shutters are one-piece louvered panels that attach above each window and prop open using a bar or rod. They’re similar in style to Colonial shutters, but provide the added benefit of shade when they’re propped up above your windows.

Accordion shutters are attached to the side of a glass door or window and have to be unrolled horizontally to cover the glass, which is done by hand. These types of shutters can be a good option for protecting sliding glass doors.

Pros of shutters:

  • Wide variety of styles to choose from
  • Offer stylish and effective hurricane protection
  • One-time installation
  • Easy to use

Cons of shutters:

  • More expensive than other hurricane window protectors
  • Need to be professionally installed ahead of time
  • Block out light and limit visibility
  • Must be lowered into place manually


Laminated Security Glass

The final option we want to tell you about is something you may not have heard of before, but we think it’s an option you’ll like: laminated security glass. This is a special type of glass laminate that consists of a thermoplastic interlayer sandwiched between two sheets of glass

We offer our Riot Glass™ line of laminated security glass for hurricane protection. This glass laminate looks and feels just like regular window glass, but the thermoplastic interlayer is very effective at dispersing the force of high-velocity impacts and preventing breakage. 

Your window glass is protected against hurricanes and other threats 24/7, without sacrificing your views, your natural light, or the curb appeal of your property. 

If Riot Glass™ does get impacted hard enough to shatter, it can retain its shape and strength to keep storm debris and water out of your property.

You don’t have to worry about boarding up your windows or lowering coverings into place before a storm, though you may choose to use laminated security glass along with other hurricane mitigation products for even more protection.

The best part is, Riot Glass™ can be retrofitted right into or onto your existing framing, eliminating the need for complete glass replacement. This makes it a more cost-effective hurricane window protection option than other types of security glass on the market.


Final Thoughts on Hurricane Protection for Windows and Doors

Choose Your Hurricane Window Protection Products Carefully

As with all types of glass security, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to protecting your glass from storm damage. 

It’s important to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of the options available to you and consider the threat level to your property to help you choose the right solution for your glass doors and windows.

Contact Riot Glass, Inc today for more information about how we can help you protect your home or business from hurricane and storm damage. 

You can also have a local glass company call us to discuss which product would be best suited to be retrofitted into your existing framing systems.

We are authorized dealers of Riot Glass Window Security Laminates as well as Riot Glass™ Laminated Security Glass. Contact us today or have your local glass contractor give us a call to discuss the products that would be best for retrofitting onto your home or business.