Florida is particularly vulnerable to hurricanes and tropical storms. Our peninsula is positioned so both storms from the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico pummel us when making landfall. It’s best if we’re prepared to take what’s coming from any direction. Impact resistant windows or hurricane shutters beef up a home’s structural integrity.
Which one’s best though?
Up to code
Florida adopted the Miami-Dade County building codes that went into effect after Hurricane Andrew tore through the state in 1992 leaving billions of dollars worth of damage behind. They are the strictest codes in the nation.
In order for a product to be rated as hurricane resistant, it is put through rigorous testing. A product’s overall performance determines the final rating.
Offense is the best defense
The intention of installing either product is to keep the raging winds of the storm from gaining access to your home and family. The winds hurl debris at your windows throughout the length of the storm. Once the window smashes, there is no stopping the force of the wind. It rushes in and up looking for an escape route.
Once in the attic, it pushes relentlessly into every nook and cranny. No home is airtight. It will find an exit. This force couples with the force of the storm battering your home from the outside. It often results in the roof ripping off entirely from a home.
Installing impact resistant windows or hurricane shutters is the best defense a homeowner has in keeping the storm outside where it belongs.
Seeing it through
One option of protection growing in popularity is installing impact resistant windows throughout the home. Once installed, they stand at the ready to provide constant protection from that day forward.
A relative newcomer to the field of hurricane resistant products, the call for manufacturers to create an impact resistant window came into play when Florida decided it must beef up building codes on all new construction. They looked to the auto industry for inspiration.
It was not long before a plan was born. Two (or more) panels of tempered glass adhere on either side of a sheet of high-tech polymer. The result? Windows that can withstand the force of a nine-pound 2×4 striking end on. By the way, it makes its impact after being hurled directly at the window from a canon!
Benefits of impact resistant windows
- Protection from storms and home invasion year around is the number one reason for installing impact resistant windows.
- The high-tech polymer sheet doubles as insulation making impact resistant windows extremely energy efficient. Technically, these windows eventually pay for themselves in savings.
- Noise reduction is another fringe benefit to installing these amazing windows in your home.
- UV protection year around is something else to consider! No more blocking the sun completely to avoid faded furniture, carpet, or wall art!
- Reduced insurance premiums are another fact to consider. Check with your agent to see if you qualify.
Shut it down
These days, we have ample warning of a hurricane that is traveling toward the coastline. Many people choose to let that beautiful Florida sunshine in until the storm is looming offshore. Then, they either drag out the shutters and put them up or close them up tight against the coming storm.
There are several types of hurricane shutters. Most are manufactured to be aesthetically pleasing in addition to providing protection. Some are operated mechanically with a manual back-up in place.
- Roll-up hurricane shutters provide the best storm protection and are easiest to use. They look good and don’t obstruct the window when not in use. Larger windows require an additional reinforcing bar called a “purlin.”
- Accordion-style shutters are ideal for larger windows or glass doors. The shutters install on tracks above and below the window. They pull out from either side and lock in the middle.
- Bahama hurricane shutters are deceiving to the eye. They give the appearance of screens, but when pulled in and locked these shutters make big wind seem like an island breeze.
- Colonial shutters are the traditional colonial style, but with an added reinforcement to repel debris when closed and locked during a storm.
- Often manufactured from aluminum, storm panels are integrated with bracing for strength.
- Used to batten down the hatches for generations, plywood is still a feasible option. The plywood sheets should measure 5/8 inches thick and fasten to the building with lag or barrel bolts. Also, the plywood must be cut correctly to work properly.
Benefits of hurricane shutters
- Added security from storms and home invasion when secured
- Wind protection when secured
- Protects against driving wind and rain when locked in place
- Improved energy efficiency if left in place
- UV when used for shading
- Reduced insurance premiums are possible
And the winner is…
If you are planning to beef up your home to make it more resistant to the force of a hurricane, you’re a winner in our eyes. Your home is likely the largest investment you will ever make. Doing all you can to help it better withstand one of nature’s most awesomely terrifying forces is a wise decision.
Not to mention the fact that you’re providing added protection for your family. That’s going to feel pretty good if ever you decide to ride out a hurricane rather than evacuating.
Whether or not you decide on the constant protection that impact resistant windows provide or choose to invest in hurricane shutters instead, making the choice to improve the structural integrity of your home is the win here.
Just an added thought…
Don’t forget to beef up that garage door while you’re at it! It’s believed that of the homes totally destroyed by a hurricane, about 80% of them lost the garage door first thing. The huge, albeit rather flimsy, doors don’t withstand the force of the wind very well. Once it gains a footing and forces its way through, a gaping hole gives ample access to your home.
Installing a simple brace can make all the difference.