French doors are an elegant addition to any home or business, but they can be a bit of a pain to protect during a hurricane. They have multiple glass panels, which makes them extremely vulnerable to storm damage.
You could always replace the existing doors with hurricane impact French doors, but the cost of doing so can be extremely high, making it prohibitively expensive. Fortunately, there are other ways to improve the impact resistance of your French doors.
It’s important to note that there’s no single way to make French doors hurricane proof, but you can significantly strengthen them to make them safer and more resistant to storm damage.
In this article, we’ll share some of the best glass protection products and hurricane barriers that you can use.
Ways to Make Impact Resistant French Doors
French Door Storm Damage Glass Protection
The most vulnerable part of your French doors are the glass panels themselves. If a piece of storm debris gets thrown at the doors by hurricane-force winds, standard window glass doesn’t stand a chance.
When the glass breaks, sharp shards of broken glass can fly dangerously inwards, potentially causing injury to the people sheltering inside. Not only that, but the hole in your door leaves your property further exposed to water and wind damage.
So, how can you protect French door glass from storm damage? Here are three options:
- 3M™ Safety and Security Window Film
- Riot Glass™ Laminated Security Glass
- ArmorPlast™ 25
3M™ Safety and Security Window Film: Basic Protection
This pliable Mylar coating is applied directly to the inside surface of the glass panels on your French doors. It won’t stop the glass from breaking, but it can hold the many shards in place and prevent them from flying inwards.
This reduces the probability of someone getting injured on the other side of the doors and helps block out rain and wind to limit storm damage inside your property.
Riot Glass™ Laminated Security Glass: Mid-Level Impact Resistance
Impact resistant laminated security glass offers much more protection for your French door glass than security window film.
The thermoplastic interlayer in these laminates is very effective at diffusing the force of storm debris impacts and, in some cases, can be enough to prevent all breakage, though this depends on the thickness and security rating of the laminate.
If a piece of storm debris does manage to break the glass, it won’t shatter inwards and can retain the shape of the panel to continue blocking out wind and rain.
ArmorPlast™ 25: Virtually Unbreakable Glass Protection
If you want the highest level of protection for the glass panels in your French doors, we recommend AP25™. This is not actually glass, but rather polycarbonate that has a glass-like hardness, feel, and appearance.
In other words, it looks and feels just like your standard French door glass, but it has the virtually unbreakable strength of polycarbonate.
ArmorPlast™ 25 is a containment-grade glazing shield that provides more impact resistance than any other security glass product on the market, meaning storm debris can’t shatter or break it.
French Door Hurricane Barrier
Fortifying the glass on your French doors is great, but it doesn’t always mean you should stop there. Hurricane mitigation barriers create a strong, solid barrier in front of the doors to stop storm debris in its tracks.
Here are three effective types of hurricane barriers:
- Plywood Boards
- Storm Panels
- Hurricane Shutters
Plywood Boards: Affordable, but Impractical
The time-tested method of protecting windows and doors of all types during a hurricane is to nail or screw plywood sheets over them. This does create a strong, durable barrier to storm damage, but isn’t the best option for a number of reasons.
For starters, there is a lot of labor involved in cutting and installing the boards. They’re also not a good permanent solution because they’re unattractive and they block out natural light and cut off views completely.
Additionally, when you remove them after a storm, you’ll need to store all those plywood sheets somewhere. This makes boarding up your French doors an even less convenient choice.
Storm Panels: a More Convenient Alternative to Boards
Think of storm panels as the commercial alternative to plywood sheets. These are corrugated metal or plastic panels that are designed to effectively repel flying storm debris and can be pre-cut to fit over your windows and doors.
Metal corrugated storm panels have many of the same disadvantages as plywood boards, namely that they block light and visibility and are not an aesthetically pleasing option. However, there are clear storm panels available that are a slightly more attractive option.
As with boards, you’ll want to remove French door storm panels when you no longer need them, and they take up storage space as well.
Hurricane Shutters: Stylish and Effective, but Costly
Hurricane shutters are probably the most effective and popular type of storm damage mitigation barrier because of the wide variety of styles available. You can choose between roll-down, accordion, and louvered shutters, among others.
Shutters are also a permanent solution because they get mounted above or beside your doors and windows and you just have to lower or slide them into place when you want to protect your French doors from a storm.
The main reason some people choose other barriers over shutters is because of the cost. Depending on the style you choose and how many doors and windows you want to protect, the price to install all the shutters you need can be pretty high.
Conclusion: You Can’t Hurricane Proof French Doors
But You Can Take Steps to Protect French Doors During Hurricanes
- Use glass protection products to prevent shattering
- Only polycarbonate is truly unbreakable
- Use hurricane barriers for maximum security
Our team of storm damage prevention experts is always happy to discuss your options and help you choose the best hurricane protection for french doors.
Contact us today or have your local glass contractor give us a call for more information about our hurricane mitigation solutions.