The danger with hurricane-force winds and flying debris is that it will smash unprotected windows, setting off the catastrophic phenomenon known as internal pressurization.
“The wind comes in through a broken window or failed door, and it’s gotta come back out,” explains Leslie Chapman-Henderson, CEO of the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, a coalition of insurance firms, private corporations, and government agencies. “The pressure will build, and it will literally explode out whatever weak spots it finds in your structure.”
From shutters to shields, there are a few different ways you can hurricane-proof your windows. Here are a few to consider:
Interlocking corrugated metal panels slide into a premounted track and attach with wing nuts. The permanent track can be painted to match the house’s exterior. The panels provide solid protection against debris and wind, but they’re tough to handle, bulky to store, and time-consuming to install, especially on upper floors.
To learn more about aluminum storm panels, click here.
Unlike metal shutters, they’re easy to handle and store, and won’t leave your home in total darkness. The fabric allows enough light to come through but the PVC-coated polyester fabric panels don’t offer the same degree of protection as steel or aluminum.
To learn more about fabric storm panels, click here.
Along with Bahama-style shutters, which swing down to cover a window from the top, these permanent swing-out shutters, in aluminum or fiberglass, combine protection and convenience with architectural style. When a storm approaches, just pull them closed and latch them securely. You can usually do this from inside the house, which means you don’t have to go outside and on a ladder in inclement weather.
To learn more about colonial storm shutters, click here.
One of the good things about roll-down shutters is that they retract into housing above or beside the window when not in use. They can be operated manually or automatically. If you opt for motorized, remember to install a battery backup if and when the power goes out in the storm.
To learn more about roll-down shutters, click here.
For a more permanent solution, consider installing new impact windows, tested to one of the major standards. Available from most leading manufacturers, these consist of a layer of plastic sandwiched between two pieces of glass. “Impact windows are similar to your car’s windshield, but quite a bit thicker,” says Steve Berg, coastal products manager for Andersen Windows.
The super-strong glass may crack if hit hard enough by flying debris, but the bonded plastic interlayer will keep the pane intact and keep the wind out. Impact windows come in a variety of styles, including historically accurate double-hung.