Hurricane Shutters: Which Option Is Best For Your Home?

No matter which type of hurricane shutter you choose, plan your project out well in advance of hurricane season and consider professional installation. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Hurricane shutters and panels are an effective way to protect your windows and doors during severe weather. 

There are many types available, but all require advance planning so they’re ready to go when a storm is heading your way.

No matter which type you choose, plan your project out well in advance of hurricane season and consider professional installation.

In This Article:

Types of Hurricane Shutters


Man prepares for hurricane by covering his windows with plywood panels
Plywood is the least expensive option and can be quickly installed by the homeowner. (DepositPhotos)

The old standby and least expensive option, plywood is not approved for hurricane protection by many state building codes. While 1/2-inch plywood used to be considered adequate, it’s now recommended that sheets be at least 5/8-inch 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 them to size before hurricane season arrives to reduce last-minute preparations. Or have the panels cut at your local hardware store or home center.

Adding a handle on the front makes installation that much easier — especially for a two-story home.

Attach plywood every 12-inch using bolts, screws, barrel bolts or special clips. label each panel for quick and easy installation.

Watch: How to Build Reusable Hurricane Panels

Metal Storm Panels

Metal Storm Panel for a hurricane shutter
Metal storm panels are lighter than plywood, so they’re easier to install. (ditimiraos/Getty Images Signature)

Corrugated aluminum or steel panels are lightweight, inexpensive and easy to handle. Individual panels overlap each other for added strength. 

They can be installed on permanently mounted tracks or bolted in place over the window trim. 

Plastic Storm Panels

corrugated plastic hurricane shutters
Plastic storm panels have the strength of metal, but they let the light shine through. (Baloncic, Getty Images)

Plastic storm panels can be made from polycarbonate plastic (Lexan) or polypropylene plastic. These smooth or corrugated panels are installed in permanently mounted tracks or bolted in place. 

Plastic storm panels are about 75 percent lighter than plywood, and they’re rated for the highest impact standards. Because they’re made of plastic, they won’t rot and will likely last the lifetime of your home. 

Plastic storm panels come in clear, translucent, and opaque styles. Polycarbonate plastic is much clearer than polypropylene plastic storm panels weigh much less and allow light into the home.

While the most expensive form of protection, unlike plywood or metal, they allow light in your home during a storm.

Fabric Storm Panels

Fabric storm panels can be put up and taken down quickly by just one person. (3 Echoes Content Studio)

Fabric storm panels, also known as wind abatement screens, are touted as an effective alternative to traditional plywood or shutters. They consist of a strong, lightweight layer of woven fabric that is coated with a geo-synthetic PVC material or Kevlar. This reinforced material covers windows and doors, providing a barrier from flying projectiles and wind-blown rain.

You might find it hard to believe that fabric can provide sufficient protection against storm debris hurtling at over 100 miles per hour, but coverings are available that meet or exceed state building codes in Florida and Texas as well as the standards set by ASTM International for hurricane protection.

They’re 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.

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.

These panels are easy to install, but they must be ordered to size, so lead time is required. If you’re planning on selling your house, you probably can’t use them for the next house since each panel exactly fits your windows.

However, having pre-installed, aesthetically pleasing fabric panels that are easy to add and remove could be a selling point!

There are several fabric storm panel systems available, such as:

  • Grommet – The easiest to install for the do-it-yourselfer. The material is fastened to your windows or doors with grommets. Panels are easy to put up and take down and roll up for storage.
  • Rolling Screen – Permanently attached device located above your windows or doors that can be lowered at a moment’s notice either manually or by an electric motor.
  • Slide Screen – Panels slide into mounting brackets.
  • Strap and Buckle – Straps and buckles are sewn into the screen and fit around eyehooks or are strapped to columns. Allow easy exit in case of emergency.

Fabric storm panels are available from:

Hurricane Shutters Pros and Cons

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

Very easy to put up once mounted
Lets light in
Fold for easy storage
PlywoodLeast expensive
Readily available
DIY installation
Heavy, may need help putting up
Requires storage space
May not meet building codes
Blocks light
Plastic (Lexan)Fairly easy to put up once mounted
Lets light in
May need help putting up
Requires storage space
MetalFairly easy to put up once mounted
Corrugated design adds strength
May need help putting up
Blocks light
Requires storage space

Permanent Hurricane Shutters

bahama hurricane shutters
Bahama shutters are aesthetically pleasing as well as functional. (pfb1, Getty Images Signature)

If you don’t want to install and take down shutters for every storm, there are permanent hurricane shutter options. 

Bahama, or colonial, shutters not only protect during intense storms, but they can also help shade your home from intense heat and temperatures. Plus, they are quite nice to look at and can add that added curb appeal some many of us desire.

Another style to consider is accordion hurricane shutters. These stack beside the window or door opening when not in use and unfold accordion-style to cover and protect during a storm.

Metal roll shutters are another example of hurricane-type shutters. These can either roll down from the top of the window or slide from one side to the other to protect the window and your home. Granted, they may not be the most attractive, but if your town or community location is on the coast or just inland, these types of shutters far outweigh their looks with security and protection.

Safety During Installation

Installing shutters is a great DIY project and require basic tools and construction know-how. Just remember some safety rules when installation calls for a ladder:

  • Never place the ladder where it may cause you to overextend your reach while working.
  • Make sure the ladder is stable and sturdy before climbing it.
  • Have someone assist you by supporting the shutter (working from inside the house through the open window) while you attach the shutters to the house.
  • If you are working from the open window yourself, be sure not to overextend your reach.

Further Reading


  1. ImpactShield offers the same technology at a lower costs, and tighter weave, which withstands wind speeds brought about by a Category 5 Hurricane. It also offer a consumer friendly website… I love this product and think it’s more competitive than Wayne-Dalton’s Fabric-Shield, which was developed AFTER impactshield…

  2. Fabric is the newest segment of the hurricane protection industry, but grommets and strap-and-buckle systems are old technology…they cause pointloading to the fabric and are potential failure points. StormWatch, makers of fabric hurricane shutters, has developed a proprietary border clamp that is 4X stronger than grommets, and not subject to UV degradation as the stitching is on straps. Additionally, StormWatch products are the most attractive products out there, check out the photo gallery on our web site: All of our products are approved for use in Miami-Dade. We also offer a CLEAR (yes, clear!) fabric shutter for windows.

  3. Greentings all! Ths impact statments made by the above comments are slightly misleading. The continuous contact of a clamp system on fabric is a sure fire failure if the screen has a windload on it while recieving an impact. All lab impact testing is done without a windload–but objects don’t fly withot wind behind them. The lowest cost fabric is made by was tested at 80 PSF with a 120 PSF structural load. The fabric with impact tests the highest is AstroGuard and is about $6.00/ per square foot installed.

  4. I am very interested in selling your product immediately! What can I do to become a reseller/installer? I live in an active hurricane region and believe this product is a great solution. Does this product reduce the cost of home owner hurricane insurance?

  5. As a licensed specialty hurricane protective’s contractor and certified installer I’ve worked with many (if not all) the above products. Regardless of price – some are better then others. My personal opinion (for what it’s worth) is stick with ‘Storm Catcher’ for over-all quality, customer service and reputation. Storm Catchers (Storm Smart) variety of hardware solutions and function are among the best we’ve run across with the new technologies in fabric wind abatement systems. We’ve tried them all (including Force-12) and found this hurricane fabric company’s applications most appealing to for our clients and our own specifications (strength, aesthetics, longevity, obsolescence, defects, warranty, automation, and price). We pride ourselves on researching new and improved hurricane protectives products. Our cliental seeks protection for the complete envelope of the home and seldom does any one product meet that demand. Its often a combination of products that meet the challenge and storm catcher defines many of those areas like large back lanai enclosures. No – I don’t work for Strom Catcher but as a professional in the hurricane protectives industry I can recognize a better product when I see one.

  6. I respectfully disagree…with Veronica’s post
    …and would question with great concern ANY hurricane shutter product (to date) that claims to “withstand a Category 5 Hurricane.” Yes, I recognize it’s only a ‘wind’ claim not structural, but with such over-the-top misleading statements you can present an equally questionable concern of trust.

    Clients trust our expertise and knowledge to provide the best level of protection for their home and family without hyperbolic exaggeration.

  7. If you want to see the fabric that Storm Watch uses (armor screen also) failing on video during independent tests. Please visit YouTube and google storm watch failures! Fun for the entire family. And of course fraud on their part stating that their screens can pass an impact test.

  8. Can I put these fabric materials up now and leave them for the entire season while I snowbird away? Or, will the sun weaken them?

  9. A Word about Hurricane windows.
    Many people are aware of the benefits of hurricane glass, such as noise reduction, safety, and hurricane protection. But what many are not aware of are the downsides of making the investment at this time.

    Hurricane glass has been sold for decades in cities like Manhattan, Boston, Chicago, and in fact, the largest market for hurricane impact glass is New York–It’s just not used for hurricane protection.

    Companies like PGT and their Winguard line, or Cardinal, Therma-Tru, or Astor have been marketing their glass for hurricane protection for years around hurricane prone regions. This glass has not held up well compared to other products and is very expensive for the level of protection achieved.

    All these products allow for water intrusion, which does enough damage to your home to no quite reach your deductible in most cases, but leaves you paying thru the nose for repairs.

    Most insurance companies do not cover the replacement costs for these windows and only allow for the value of a regularly priced window. So when these windows go through a storm–most insurance companies won’t pay for their replacement, without a separate insurance policy, just to cover the glass.

    All these products warranties are void after the product goes thru at cat 1 or higher hurricane–so don’t think these companies are going to pay for replacement.

    The idea of hurricane protection is to allow the hurricane protection to take the brunt force of the storms impact–and not your expensive windows. So don’t purchase them, unless you have the extra monies to buy protection for this investment.

    They also failed miserably during hurricane Wilma, which was the 1st widespread test of hurricane glass. Wilma, if you remember, was not a strong hurricane.

    The United States hurricane testing standards are also pathetically low (who trusts government minimums anyway) at 35 MPH for the Miami Dade large missile impact test. All attempts to raise the minimum standard have been blocked by the hurricane glass manufacturers as they realize their products could not withstand impacts at 50 MPH.

    So you’re at risk, so they can make more money. Sound like America? Spot on.

  10. My front door is made of glass and shutters can not be installed to protect from hurricanes and I am interested in the Fabric Storm panels, please send me information,

  11. We have fabric grommet type storm shutters but 3 of them do not fit tightly against the house, they buckle. The installer claims that this is okay…anyone have an opinion on this??

    • Hi, Marlene, features home improvement advice from the nationally syndicated TV show “Today’s Homeowner” and its experts.
      We don’t offer information on individual home builders and suppliers, but we encourage checking your local phone listings for this information.
      Good luck, and thanks for your question!

    • Hi, Alina, features home improvement advice from the nationally syndicated TV show “Today’s Homeowner” and its experts.
      We don’t sell construction products on this website, but we encourage checking your local The Home Depot for these materials.
      Good luck, and thanks for your question!

    • Hi, Sheila, features home improvement advice from the nationally syndicated TV show “Today’s Homeowner” and its experts.
      We don’t offer information on individual home builders and suppliers, but we encourage checking your local phone listings for this information.

      Thanks for your question, and good luck!

  12. Please send us a phone number to have a someone contact us.
    Shirley/ Don CRESCENT
    (813 )634 – 5094

    • Hi, Scott,
      We don’t offer information on home builders, repairers and suppliers, as this varies by location, but we encourage checking your local phone listings for this information.
      Good luck!

  13. We’re looking for a product to provide privacy screening (4ft x 8ft openings) on 30 balconies for a condo on the beach.
    Durability during storms is desired as they will be permanently mounted.
    Is this a good solution to our needs?

    • Hi, Roy,
      Finding the balance between attractive and durable screening is a challenge.
      Fabric storm panels may withstand severe weather, but they’re not decorative.
      Retractable screen doors are attractive, but they may not withstand severe weather.
      We recommend weighing the pros and cons (aesthetics vs. durability) and then deciding.
      Good luck. 🙂


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