Getting Hurricane Shutters Installed

Find out about the different types of hurricane shutters available and how they protect your home from the high winds produced by hurricanes.

Hurricanes bring potentially strong winds and rainstorms that can do significant damage to homes and businesses. Some homeowners take the time to nail plywood over their windows when a hurricane is approaching. This may work in some cases but in extreme storms they will fail to protect your home. If a home's windows break during a storm it can trigger a chain of events that may leave a home totally destroyed. When windows break during a hurricane pressure begins to build within the structure. If enough pressure builds up, the roof may split or fly off of the house. This in turn leaves the rest of the structure vulnerable to collapsing.

Some homeowners opt for special film that covers windows or they choose storm resistant windows. Though these can be effective, they will not hold up under the winds of a very strong hurricane. Specially made hurricane shutters are designed to hold up under the most devastating storm conditions and are a homeowner's best option for protecting their home. Many commercially made hurricane shutters are made of strong material such as steel or aluminum. Many operate on a track system while newer models are motorized.

When purchasing storm shutters look for ones that are rated to withstand winds of 120 mph or more. Most types can be installed yourself or you can hire someone to do it for you. It is highly recommended that homeowners leave the installation of hurricane shutters to professional installers. They must be properly installed to be safe and effective. Remember to test any motorized or mechanical shutters on a regular basis to be sure they are working properly. It is important that you test all shutters so you know exactly what you are doing when hurricane warnings are issued. You do not want to run into problems when the storm is approaching.

Rolldown Shutters: These shutters are motorized and roll down on a track system when you turn them on. Once they are down they lock at the bottom. They are made of sturdy PVC or metal. When they are not in use they sit in a box above the window. These are much like the security doors you may see on storefronts that are used for added security once the store closes for the day. Costs for these will range from 25 to 35 dollars per square foot.

Accordion Shutters: These shutters are somewhat like rolldown shutters but they are housed on the sides of the windows when not in use. When they are needed you simply pull them out of the housing and lock them down. These average in price around 20 dollars a square foot.

Metal Storm Panels: These are simply sheets of metal that can be stored when not in use. They are attached to metal supports at the top and bottom of the window. These supports must be installed ahead of time. When hurricane warnings are issued the panels are then attached to the metal supports. These average about 10 dollars per square foot.

Awning Shutters: These shutters are installed at the top of the window and can be opened to provide shade during normal weather. These look something like shade awnings typical bought for summer shade. When a storm warning is issued they are put down over the window and locked securely at the bottom. The cost for these averages around 15 to 20 dollars per square foot. Bahama style shutters are very similar to this type but may not be as secure.

If you don't have the money to invest in commercial hurricane shutters there is a way to properly install plywood shutters that will hold up under heavy winds. The trick is to install the plywood in a way that the wind will not get underneath the board. Plywood simply nailed to the side of the house is not secure. Buy plywood thick enough to withstand flying objects.

The plywood should be cut to fit the window while resting as close to it as possible. The piece should fit inside the window frame. You can then attach dead bolts to the plywood and drill holes in the frame that correspond to the positions of the bolts. Inquire at your local home improvement store about ways to protect these holes from gathering moisture and weakening your window frames. Use at least 4 dead bolts per window and add more for larger windows. When you are finished the plywood should set snugly against the window and the bolts should slide securely into the frame of the window or the wall of the house if your windows are deep set. The shutters should be marked so when a warning is issued there is no confusion as to which shutter goes on which window. These shutters can then be stored in a dry place until they are needed. Coat the finished shutters with waterproofing veneer for extra protection.

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