Hurricane Window Protection: What Options Do You Have?

By December 26, 2020Blog, 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.