Many states, counties, and cities require or encourage hurricane windows in homes and buildings. They provide stronger protection than plywood boards and do not degrade the curb appeal of a home or business.
Hurricane windows look just like standard windows and can easily withstand impacts from wind-blown debris. They also save homeowners money on insurance rates and may qualify for a tax deduction.
Hurricane window protection was developed to prevent the catastrophic damage that can occur when a window is broken. A break in the glass creates a point of air entry that can cause structural and water damage.
The glass in impact-resistant windows is stronger than standard window panes and comes with a polyvinyl butyral (PVB) layer that sits compressed between two layers of heat-strengthened glass. This layer acts as an adhesive to hold the glass together if it does shatter.
While some homeowners attempt to board up their windows, this makes the house more vulnerable. A storm’s negative pressure can force plywood boards to suck right off the house, creating a large hole allowing debris to enter. Plus, the process is time-consuming and requires someone to be available before the storm arrives. Also, improper installation can void the manufacturer’s warranty.
There are a few different ways to protect your windows from hurricanes. The least expensive is plywood, which can be effective if it’s thick enough (at least 5/8 inch exterior grade). These boards must be installed before hurricane season, marked for the window they fit over and stored in a dry location. Heat and moisture can warp plywood, making it less effective.
Duct tape is another option. However, it doesn’t hold the glass together, and it may increase the risk of broken windows shattering into sharp shards that could enter your home and hurt you or your loved ones.
Some shutters resemble accordion garage doors and roll down manually or electronically when needed. These offer more attractive protection than the plywood variety and can provide temperature regulation and privacy during non-storm times. These include roll-down shutters, Bahama shutters and single-piece awnings that hang over the windows. They also serve as an excellent deterrent for burglars.
Many homeowners use plywood to protect their windows during a hurricane. Typically, this material is about 1/2 to 5/8 inches thick and is easily fastened to the window frames. Choosing plywood free from holes, dents, and glue spots is important. It’s also a good idea to select sheets that overlap the window frame by at least 8 inches on all sides.
While duct tape may seem quick and inexpensive, it is ineffective in preventing windows from shattering during a hurricane. Two-by-four traveling 34 miles per hour can plow right through a piece of duct tape.
Leaving windows open during a hurricane is also unsafe because it creates a hazardous pressure change inside the home.
Additionally, leaving the windows open can allow debris to enter the house and cause further damage. For these reasons, most insurance companies do not offer discounts for boarding up windows.
When you use polycarbonate panels to protect your home from hurricanes, the windows don’t shatter. That means that flying debris won’t be able to come through the window and damage your items or your loved ones. They also allow natural light to enter the space, which is important if the power goes out during a storm.
Another benefit of polycarbonate panels is that they’re transparent. This allows you to look outside without putting yourself in danger, so you can check on the severity of a hurricane without risking your life.
Boarding up the windows is the other common approach to protecting your home from hurricanes. Unfortunately, this isn’t as effective because negative air pressure during a storm can suck the plywood right off the window. Additionally, boarding up your windows can make it more difficult to escape your home during a disaster. This is why insurance companies don’t offer discounts for boarding up your windows.