Protecting Windows and Doors: Hurricane Shutters

Planning ahead with hurricane shutters will afford the best protection.

installing-shutters2Are you ready for hurricane season? It only takes one hurricane to destroy your property. Insurance can pay for brick-and-mortar losses, but can never replace sentimental family items and other valuable pieces of your life.

One of the best ways to prepare for hurricanes is to protect the openings in your home or business by installing hurricane shutters. It should be your top priority. Watch the IBHS test video to see how a door blowing open can compromise the structural integrity of a house.

Choosing the right type of protection can be challenging. Download the IBHS Shutter Guide, which includes a comprehensive list of shutter materials, cost estimates and pros and cons to consider when choosing the right type of protection for your windows, entry doors and garage doors.

Protective barriers can:

  • Keep wind pressure from building up inside, which often leads to loss of the roof.

  • Reduce the chance glass will break.

  • Reduce the chance of wind-driven rain from soaking the home’s interior.

If your home or business has been spared by previous storms, take advantage of the opportunity to plan ahead for the next storm.

Plan ahead:

  • Choose permanent window and door protection, or

  • Install permanent fasteners long before storm warnings, so panels can be put in place quickly and time can be spent focusing on other needs.

The range of products on the market today means it’s easier to find protection that fits your budget. Commercially-installed shutters typically cost between $9 and $30 per square foot of openings, while the costs increase for motorized units.

On average, the window (and doors with windows) area to be shuttered is about 15 percent of the home’s total square footage. For example, a 2,000 sq. ft. home would require about 300 sq. ft. to be covered by shutters. So the estimated cost to shutter that home with product that costs $20 per sq. ft. is: 300 sq. ft. x $20 = $6,000.

Do-it-yourself costs are about 50 percent less per square foot. Many homeowners opt for a mixture of protective measures as a means of maintaining the curb appeal of a home.

Make the right choice:

  • Know that just because a product is labeled “hurricane tested” does NOT mean it has passed the large-missile impact tests.

  • Choose a product with the proper approval for impact-resistance.

Look for these ratings:

  • Florida Building Code TAS 201, 202, 203

  • ASTM E 1886 and 1996-03

  • Miami-Dade Protocols PA 201, 202, 203

Here are some questions to ask yourself before deciding which kind of hurricane shutters or other opening protection are right for your home or business:

  • Am I a year-round resident? Am I capable of installing shutters alone? If no, you may want to consider installing permanent protection, such as impact-resistant glass.

  • What are my physical limitations? Can I handle screens or lightweight corrugated plastic, but not aluminum or other shutters?

  • Will I be comfortable with the look of permanent products, such as roll-down or accordion-style shutters? These often have visible storage “boxes” on the exterior of a home or business when not in use.

IBHS Guide to Using Plywood 

If a hurricane is threatening and you do not yet have shutters, use plywood only as a last-minute alternative. If used, the plywood it must be properly fastened to provide optimal protection. See IBHS guidelines for using plywood.