Boarding Up: Hurricane Storm Panels for Your Home

By: Joe Cuhaj


Clear plastic Lexan panels allow light in during a storm
(Photo courtesy of Speas Storm Shutters)

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

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.


Plywood is the least expensive option and can be installed by the homeowner

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” using bolts, screws, barrel bolts or special clips.

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 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.


Plastic panels protect windows from flying debris
(Photo courtesy of Speas Storm Shutters)

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.


Fabric storm panels are easy to put up and take down
(Photo courtesy of Storm Smart Industries)

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.


Fabric storm panels can also be attached using straps
(Photo courtesy of Storm Smart Industries)

Pros and Cons

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

Plywood

Cost: 50¢-75¢/sq. ft. (Materials Only)

Advantages:

  • Least expensive
  • Readily available
  • DIY installation

Disadvantages:

  • Heavy, may need help putting up
  • Requires storage space
  • May not meet building codes
  • Blocks light

Metal

Cost: $10-$12/sq. ft. (Materials & Installation)

Advantages:

  • Fairly easy to put up once mounted
  • Corrugated design adds strength

Disadvantages:

  • May need help putting up
  • Blocks light
  • Requires storage space

Plastic (Lexan)

Cost: $17-$19/sq. ft. (Materials & Installation)

Advantages:

  • Fairly easy to put up once mounted
  • Lets light in
  • Lightweight

Disadvantages:

  • Expensive
  • May need help putting up
  • Requires storage space

Fabric

Cost: PVC $12/sq. ft, Kevlar $20-$22sq. ft. (Materials & Installation)

Advantages:

  • Lightweight
  • Very easy to put up once mounted
  • Lets light in
  • Fold for easy storage

Disadvantages:

  • Expensive

Bottom Line

Storm 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.

Check out our Hurricane Help page for more information.

Further Information

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Comments

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13 Comments on “Boarding Up: Hurricane Storm Panels for Your Home”

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  • Noe Gucovschi Says:
    October 14th, 2016 at 7:43 am

    Please advise if the plastic clear shutter panels are Miami Dade approved for hurricanes??



  • Robbob Says:
    October 11th, 2016 at 5:38 pm

    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.



  • Dave Pierce Says:
    August 9th, 2016 at 3:45 pm

    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!
    Thanks!
    dave



  • Darlene Says:
    August 31st, 2015 at 3:36 pm

    We’re interested in putting Kelvar on our windows. Where can you purchase this?



  • Jack Engels Says:
    February 20th, 2015 at 2:20 pm

    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?



  • Randy Says:
    November 12th, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    Gulf Coast Shutters is Located in South Louisiana. We provide a variety of hurricane protection options. Including Shutters,Storm Panels, Hurricane Fabric and more.

    Gulf Coast Shutters
    http://www.gcshutterco.com
    (985)851-2515



  • Cheryl Fowler Says:
    October 15th, 2014 at 7:48 am

    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?)



  • Carole Says:
    August 6th, 2013 at 1:14 am

    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.
    Thanks,
    Carole



  • DENNIS KNOTT Says:
    September 9th, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    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…



  • anna Says:
    September 8th, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    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.



  • Gerald Says:
    January 11th, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    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.

    Thanks,
    Gerald



  • Panel Says:
    March 28th, 2009 at 2:56 am

    Panel is required specially to save home furniture like doors and windows against storm and unfavorable climatic conditions.



  • Breck Whitworth Says:
    November 27th, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    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


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