Why Not Plywood, Shutters, or Storm Windows?
Installing plywood over windows and doors can be an effective way to protect your home from a hurricane. However, the problem with sheets of plywood is that someone must install them, and then take them down, and then install them again before the next storm hits. It’s not uncommon for the Southeast Coast to experience more than one hurricane in any given season. And who will install the plywood if you’re traveling or if your house is strictly a vacation getaway that you only visit in the winter? Trying to find a repair person to install them could be nearly impossible, because you won’t be the only one who needs help. Installing plywood over windows and doors also leaves unsightly screw or nail holes in the exterior that will need to be repaired. And finally, plywood sheets need to be stored when not in use, hurricane-resistant windows and doors do not.
There are shutters on the market that will effectively stop windborne debris on standard-sized windows, but they might detract from your home's architecture, especially if you’re looking to achieve a modern aesthetic with clean lines. And just like plywood, storm shutters don’t work if they are not secured, and someone needs to be home to shut them. Also, standard shutters won’t protect large scenic doors
and windows or garage doors
What about storm windows? The name storm window is misleading. Storm windows, sometimes called storm sashes, are secondary glass or transparent coverings designed to work in conjunction with an existing single-pane window. Storm windows are not as common today because for several decades, residential windows have been made with more efficient, double-pane glass. However, storm windows are still available, and they can increase energy efficiency
and reduce noise transference, but storm windows provide little or no protection against extreme winds and windborne debris.
Do you Need Impact Glass?
If you live near the Gulf Coast, in Florida, or along the Eastern Seaboard where hurricanes are a real threat, then choosing windows and doors
with impact glass may be a sensible decision. In fact, it may be required. The building code in many counties located in hurricane-prone areas in the United States requires impact glass in new homes, and in existing homes receiving replacement windows and doors. If you or the contractor you’re working with are not sure if your home is in such an area, have a conversation with your local building official. If you live in, or are planning to move to, the state of Florida, be aware that the counties in Florida have the most stringent hurricane-related building codes in North America.
Not All Impact-Resistant Windows and Doors are Created Equal
Window and door companies typically don’t make their own glass, and there are only a handful of glass manufacturers that supply most of the residential glass in North America. All these manufactures make high-performing impact glass. But glass is not the only component that goes into a high-performing hurricane-resistant window or door. Window and door jambs and sash frames
are what holds everything together. If you buy a window or door with the highest quality impact glass, but the other components are weak, you’re not getting the most resilient protection available.