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


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
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
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


  1. I have a new and proven method of securing plywood over windows and doors that is much easier ans stronger than any method now used with the exception of storm shutters. The stormbrace will be ready for the next Hurricane season 2009. If you are interested please contact me.
    Thank you
    Breck Whitworth

  2. Hi,
    What is that material called that comes in 4×8 sheet of plastic and is about 1/2 thick and can be cut to fit the window size.


  3. Danny: We enjoy watching you on TV! We also enjoyed reading your article on “Boarding Up”. Trying to take the easy way out of boarding up for a hurricane, we had our handyman install the white plastic cardboard corrugated panels with 3M Velcro dual lock tape. We made a big mistake! First of all, we live in hot and humid LA (Lower Alabama). After waiting a couple of days, we had a hard time taking the panels down, it wasn’t easy. It was harder than taking off the plywood. The velcro tape stuck onto our window trim, but did not stick onto the panel. Our handyman then experimented with another type of velcro tape just on one panel. After raining for three days, the panel started to droop on top and easily came off. Luckily, we were able to get our money back from our installer. It wasn’t that cheap. The cardboard panel kits that are advertised do not work in hot and humid weather. Thank goodness we found this out before we actually went through a hurricane using this method because a hurricane brings in a lot more humidity and moisture and would have caused flying debris and left our windows unprotected.

  4. What can you say about Win-WorX Storm Panels? (good, bad, mediocre, what are they rated to stop re:flying material, etc). Are they available from other vendors/factory sales other than the vendor in Gulf Breeze, FL? One of my neighbors purchased them but they kept falling off. The vendor provided no help because the 1yr warranty time frame was past…

  5. polycarbonate sheets is “the name of the material that comes in 4×8 sheet of plastic and is about 1/2 thick and can be cut to fit the window size.”
    I have questions too. The home store rep said it last longer than plywood and is light weight enough to install yourself. Is there any reason to avoid installing them with hurricane clips as clips? I’d rather not drill into my walls. My use is seasonal hurricane protection in that they’ll be removed as soon as danger has passed.

  6. Do you know any companies in the Houston area, specifically the 77571 area, that can give us a quote for metal storm covers (they drill the holes and put mounting screws in place so that we can just put them on before a hurricane?)

  7. After putting storm panels on our house, we have exposed bolt heads. My question is: Do we need to leave rubber washers behind the bolts when we paint over them because of the two metals that may, in time, fuse?

  8. Danny & Co:
    I have a bay-box metal-framed window over my kitchen sink. It’s appx 35″ square, protrudes outward just under a foot, and has an angled, crank-open top window. 5 surfaces in all. Does anyone make a hi-impact similar-shape plastic storm cover? I’m pulling my endangered hair out trying to protect that from wind projectiles!

  9. I want a roll down protection for a standard walk thru Patio slide window (72″X72″)and 3 bedroom windows (63″X54″)
    I want something so I dont have to store any items.

  10. My husband and I recently moved to an area that is none for having powerful storms, and we are concerned about how we can protect our new home. I appreciated how you explained the different options of storm proofing, and I liked the plastic storm panel the most because they protect the home while still letting in light. Thank you for the helpful article, I will be sure to take this advice into consideration when installing storm shutters.

  11. My uncle is looking for something to protect his home from a storm. I like how you mention that plastic storm panels protect your home and allow light in your home during a storm. Thank you for the information. I’ll recommend my uncle to install plastic storm panels at his home to protect his family during a storm.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here