Hurricane Storm Shutters for Your Home

Storm Panel
Plan your project well in advance and keep your home safe from harm. (justhavealook/Getty Images Signature)

Covering windows with storm shutters or panels is one of the best ways to minimize damage to your home during a hurricane. There are many types available, but all require advance planning so they’re ready to go when a storm is heading your way.

The Different Types of Storm Panels

Plywood
Plywood is the least expensive option and can be quickly installed by the homeowner. (Juan Monino/Getty Images Signature)

Plywood

The old standby and least expensive option, plywood is not approved for hurricane protection by many state building codes. While 1/2” plywood used to be considered adequate, it’s now recommended that sheets be at least 5/8” thick to provide protection from flying projectiles. Since plywood is heavy and awkward to handle, hanging it can be labor-intensive and may require two people.

Buy plywood before hurricane season, since it can be in short supply when a storm is approaching. Cut it to size before hurricane season arrives to reduce last-minute preparations. Attach plywood every 12-inch using bolts, screws, barrel bolts or special clips.


Metal Storm Panel
This choice of paneling will add not only protection but strength to one’s home. (ditimiraos/Getty Images Signature)

Metal Storm Panels

Corrugated aluminum or steel panels are extremely strong. Individual panels overlap each other for added strength. They can be installed on permanently mounted tracks or bolted in place.


Plastic Paneling
Polycarbonate panels over protection as well as room for light to enter the home. (Linjerry/Getty Images)

Plastic Storm Panels

Polycarbonate plastic (Lexan) is available in corrugated panels that are installed in permanently mounted tracks or bolted in place. Plastic shutters come in clear, translucent, and opaque styles. While the most expensive form of protection, unlike plywood or metal, they allow light in your home during a storm.


Fabric Storm Cover
Fabric storm panels are easy to put up, strap on, and take down. (LeslieLauren/Getty Images Signature)

Fabric Storm Panels

Touted as an effective alternative to rigid materials, fabric storm panels are made from a geo-synthetic, PVC coated fabric or Kevlar. They attached around windows and doors using grommets and bolts or straps and buckles. While keeping wind, rain, and flying debris out, the mesh fabric allows light and some air to come through.

You wouldn’t think that fabric would provide sufficient protection for your windows against hurricane force winds and flying projectiles, but many fabric storm panels meet or exceeded state building codes as well as ASTM standards for hurricane protection.

While most fabric storm panels are installed by the dealer, homeowners may be able to buy the material and install it themselves for around $5 per square foot for PVC fabric.

Storm Shutters Pros and Cons

There are advantages and disadvantages to each of the different types of storm shutters.

Cost: Materials & InstallationProsCons
FabricPVC $12/sq. ft., Kevlar $20-$22sq. ft.Lightweight
Very easy to put up once mounted
Lets light in
Fold for easy storage
Expensive
Plywood50¢-75¢/sq. ft. (Materials Only)Least expensive
Readily available
DIY installation
Heavy, may need help putting up
Requires storage space
May not meet building codes
Blocks light
Plastic (Lexan)$17-$19/sq. ft.Fairly easy to put up once mounted
Lets light in
Lightweight
Expensive
May need help putting up
Requires storage space
Metal$10-$12/sq. ft.Fairly easy to put up once mounted
Corrugated design adds strength
May need help putting up
Blocks light
Requires storage space

Bottom Line

Storm shutters and panels are an effective way to protect your windows and doors during a hurricane. No matter which type you choose, plan your project out well in advance of hurricane season and consider professional installation.

Further Reading