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How to Protect Sliding Glass Doors in a Hurricane

Written By: Brad CampbellJanuary 13, 2021

During a storm or hurricane, your window glass is the most vulnerable part of your business. This is even more true for sliding glass doors because of their size and prominent placement.

So, what can you do to keep sliding glass doors intact during a hurricane and prevent storm damage to your property?

How to Protect Sliding Glass Doors in a Hurricane

Hurricane Protection for Sliding Glass Doors: What Options Are There?

When it comes to protecting sliding glass doors during a storm, there are a few different solutions available.

Three reliable and durable types of sliding glass door hurricane mitigation barriers that you can use are:

  1. Plywood Boards
  2. Storm Panels and Hurricane Shutters
  3. Riot Glass® Laminated Security Glass
hurricane protection sliding glass doors

Boarding up Sliding Glass Doors

When you think of hurricane protection for glass, images of plywood board ups or emergency boarding probably come to your mind right away.

boarding up sliding doors
Closed or failed business location with boarded up front doors. Concept of economic crisis with many closed restaurants due to coronavirus.

Boarding up sliding glass doors is a strategy that you can use to protect the glass before a storm or after it has already been broken to prevent further storm damage.

The goal of covering glass with plywood is to protect the glass against wind damage and impacts from flying storm debris.

If the glass is already broken, plywood boards can help keep water out of your business. This prevents further, even more expensive, damage to your property.

Pros of boarding up sliding glass doors:

  • Affordable
  • Creates a strong, durable barrier to storm damage
  • Prevents glass from shattering

Cons of emergency boarding:

  • Labor-intensive
  • Boards require lots of storage space
  • Unnattractive
  • Blocks out natural light
  • Can’t see through boards at all

Using Storm Panels, Accordion Shutters, or Roll-Down Shutters

Storm panels and hurricane shutters are products specifically designed to protect window glass, including sliding glass doors, from hurricanes and storm damage.

storm panels for hurricane protection
Image via

You can think of storm panels as the commercial alternative to plywood boards. These are corrugated metal or plastic sheets that you attach over your glass doors and windows to protect against wind damage and flying storm debris.

Like plywood boards, storm panels aren’t really a practical permanent solution for protecting sliding glass doors against hurricanes. That’s why many people opt for accordion-style or roll-down hurricane shutters.

Accordion shutters are attached to the side of your home next to a sliding glass door. When a storm is brewing, you manually slide them into place over the glass to protect it.

shutters for hurricane protection
Image via

Roll-down shutters work in a similar way, but are mounted above the glass. You can lower them into place either with a hand crank or with the push of a button (for varieties with an electronic mechanism).

Pros of storm panels and hurricane shutters for sliding glass doors:

  • More aesthetically pleasing than boards
  • Hurricane shutters provide a permanent solution
  • Many different styles to choose from
  • Clear storm panels are available
  • Shutters are easy to put in place and remove

Cons of storm panels, accordion shutters, and roll-down shutters:

  • Storm panels are not a good permanent solution
  • Storm panels require storage space when not in use
  • Hurricane shutters are a more expensive option
  • Limit natural light and visibility
  • Shutter housings can look bulky and out of place
  • Mechanical parts may require repair or replacement over time

Retrofitting Sliding Glass Doors with Riot Glass®

An increasingly popular method of reinforcing sliding glass doors and windows is to retrofit them with a special type of laminated security glass. Our proprietary line of this type of glass is called Riot Glass®.

sliding doors

Riot Glass® consists of a thermoplastic interlayer bonded between two outer layers of glass. Its unique composition and the high strength of the materials we use makes it up to five times stronger and 100 times stiffer than other brands of security glass on the market.

It’s high level of impact resistance means that Riot Glass® can be used to reinforce your sliding glass doors and make them resistant to hurricanes and storm damage.

In many cases, the glass laminate panels are strong enough to withstand multiple impacts from flying storm debris. Riot Glass® is available in 1/4”-1”thicknesses, so you can choose the option that best suits your property, your security needs, and your budget.

shattered glass window

Even if a high-velocity impact does crack the glass, the laminate can retain its shape and strength to continue protecting your property. This greatly reduces the risk of injury due to flying glass shards and limits further damage from water or storm debris.

Benefits of Riot Glass® for sliding glass door hurricane protection:

  • Can be retrofitted into existing framing
  • Extremely impact resistant
  • Completely clear (doesn’t block natural light or reduce visibility)
  • Provides 24/7 glass protection
  • Very cost-effective
  • Can be used along with other barriers
  • Available in tinted, mirrored, colored, and low-emissivity varieties
  • Protects against other threats (i.e. forced entry and burglary)

Are there any disadvantages of using laminated security glass for hurricane mitigation?

  • Can still be broken by strong enough impacts (won’t shatter dangerously inwards)

Is There Such a Thing as Hurricane Proof Sliding Glass Doors?

The Truth About Hurricane Impact Sliding Glass Doors

The reality is, we can’t say that anything is 100% “hurricane proof.” Anyone who claims that their products are going to make your home completely immune to storm damage is misleading you.

Even plywood boards and hurricane shutters can fail to protect your sliding glass doors under extreme conditions. If this happens, the exposed glass can break apart extremely easily and leave your property even more vulnerable to expensive damage.

That’s why we recommend reinforcing all your glass, including sliding glass doors, windows, and storefronts, with Riot Glass®. This formidable security glass provides affordable, round-the-clock protection from hurricanes and other threats.

There’s no one-size-fits all solution to the threat of hurricanes and other extreme weather events, but with the right combination of mitigation barriers in place you can feel more secure.

Contact Riot Glass® today or have your local glass contractor give us a call to discuss the best storm damage mitigation retrofit for your sliding glass doors.

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Looking for residential protection? At Riot Glass, we specialize in protecting your property with our patented bullet-resistant system, designed specifically for aluminium framed windows. Not sure if Riot Glass is right for your home? Explore our FAQs.
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