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Hurricane Shutters Buyers Guide

There are a host qualified hurricane protection products for your home. Each of the listed options below meets current Florida Building Code (FBC) standards, and can also satisfy insurance requirements. FBC is in most aspects similar to the International Building Code (IBC) with respect to the testing and approval of hurricane shutters.

Furthermore, the Miami-Dade County norms, often considered the most stringent requirements for hurricane shutters, rely on self-developed testing methods referred to as TAS.

Passing the tests prescribed by the TAS norms is required only for shutters approved for use in the Florida HVHZ (High Velocity Hurricane Zone). FBC will accept testing performed by TAS methods for inclusion in the FBC Database of approved building products. Both Miami-Dade County and the State of Florida maintain web-searchable databases of products approved for use as hurricane protection.

Aluminum Hurricane Panels

Hurricane panels secure to the outside of a house using bolts or tracks. They deliver excellent protection for doors and windows without changing the look of your house.

The panels are measured and cut to cover the opening, and can be affixed to the house with a track or secured directly to the structure. The window will be completely covered when installed, and you can’t see out of the window once they are in place.

This is generally the least expensive type of shutter protection. The panels are lightweight, making them easy to carry, but can be awkward when installing over large openings. When not in use, storm panels should be stored in an easy to reach location.

• Inexpensive
• Removable
• Simple to Store
• Easy to Install

Clear Polycarbonate Hurricane Panels

Also known as Lexan panels, polycarbonate hurricane panels are transparent allowing light through the opening. The panels are heat-formed into a corrugated shape to further increase impact resistance.

Like aluminum hurricane panels, they are lightweight and strong and can be installed vertically or horizontally to meet the needs of the opening. These panels are put up when there is threat of a storm, and taken down after.

The panels are measured and cut to cover the opening, and can be affixed to the house with a track or secured directly to the structure. The window will be completely covered when installed, and you will be able to see out of the window once they are in place.

The panels are lightweight, making them easy to carry, but can be awkward when installing over large openings. You will also need a place to store the panels when they are not in use.

• Lightweight
• Removable
• Simple to Store
• Easy to Install

Accordion Hurricane Shutters

Accordion shutters unfold easily to cover and protect during a storm. When not in use, they remain permanently affixed to your window, which eliminates the need for storage.

They are made from a lightweight aluminum and installed into tracks on the top and bottom that guide the movement of the shutters as well as hold them in place. The top track holds a wheel carriage that adds to ease of movement. These are manually operated.

Accordion hurricane shutters need to be maintained by lubricating and cleaning annually. You won’t need to worry about storage as they are left in place retracted when not in use.

• Can double as a security measure.
• Easy to deploy by one person.
• Eliminate the need for storage.

Bahama Hurricane Shutters

Bahama hurricane shutters resemble decorative shutters that typify the look and feel of a tropical home.

These one-piece hurricane shutters attach directly above your windows. Prop them open to shade the window and lower and secure them the wall for quick storm-ready protection.

• Minimum maintenance.
• Easily operated by one person.
• Aligns with architecture of your home.
• No storage necessary.


Colonial Hurricane Shutters

Colonial hurricane shutters are also permanently affixed to the structure, and considered “decorative”. Like Bahama hurricane shutters, when they are made of material strong enough to withstand hurricane force winds, and installed to meet current building code standards, they serve as viable protection for your home. They can also be easily closed in the event of a storm.

• Minimum maintenance.
• Can be automatically deployed.
• Easily operated by one person.
• Aligns with architecture of your home.
• No storage necessary.

Manual or Electric Roll-Down Hurricane Shutters

Properly installed rolling shutters have minimum impact on the architectural integrity of your property. When not in use, they are stored in an enclosed box above your window. When needed for storm protection, you can manually lower them with crank handles from inside or outside the building or, automatically lower them with a motor, in which case manual overrides are included.

Electric or motorized roll-down shutters are a popular solution for lanai area of a home. They can be installed to easily enclose the entire lanai. In addition to storm protection, rolling shutters function for security, light and sound control and insulation.

• Can be automatically deployed.
• Easily operated by one person.
• Aligns with architecture of your home.
• No storage necessary.
• Excellent theft deterrent.

Impact Resistant Hurricane Windows and Doors

Impact resistant hurricane windows and doors are not considered “shutters”. They are an alternative to shutters that offer full-time protection against the elements, intruders, UV rays and noise. This is generally going to be the most expensive option in hurricane protection.

The benefit of total home replacement of windows and doors with impact resistant products is that you never have to think about it again. Once installed by a qualified, licensed professional your protection is in place 24-7-365.

If your windows and doors need to be replaced, you might give serious consideration to replacing them with impact resistant hurricane windows and doors. The cost of replacing a window or door with a non-impact product and then adding a shutter to meet current codes is very close to replacing the opening with an impact product.

• Always deployed.
• No maintenance.
• Least obtrusive of all protection systems.
• No storage necessary.

Final Considerations

Typically the least expensive option will be the most labor intensive and conversely, the most expensive options will be the most worry-free. Keep in mind that the front of your home has the highest aesthetical priority. You want protection in place that doesn’t detract from the architecture.

The back of your home will take the next level of priority, and typically will be the most expensive area to protect due to the fact that you generally see the most glass in the back. You can generally save a great deal on the back of the home with shutters vs. impact-resistant doors and windows.

The sides of your home usually are
the last priority. Although they can’t be seen, it is still vital to protect the openings as they are vulnerable.

Since each application has Florida Building Code approval, your choice should be based on your lifestyle and which product best fits the specific opening. You should consult with a professional licensed building contractor to determine what the best option is for an opening. Each application needs to be installed according to Florida Building Code specifications to meet the requirements of protection, which should satisfy your insurance company as well.