We’ve installed impact windows on many homes that had hurricane shutters in place. It’s natural to wonder if hurricane windows and shutters together are worth the effort.
New buildings here must have impact resistant windows or hurricane shutters over existing windows. Shutters alone provide much more protection from hurricane-force winds than unprotected, non-impact windows.
Keep in mind that hurricanes in recent years are larger, stronger, and last longer than even ten years ago. The combination of hurricane windows and shutters delivers near-100% protection from storm damage!
Which Alone Provides More Protection?
Anyone who lives in South Florida or has been here during a tropical storm or hurricane has an appreciation for impact windows that protect buildings from the most violent storms.
Probably the biggest difference is that shutters provide limited protection to older, non-impact tested windows. In South Florida, hurricane windows and shutters pass the same impact tests.
The better choice? In our opinion, deciding between impact resistant windows vs shutters in terms of what provides more protection tilts to windows for these reasons:
- While shutters are also tested against projectiles like impact windows, protection from flying objects won’t necessarily extend to non-impact windows behind them. There is still the chance that glass will shatter and send shards flying inside.
Impact glass is manufactured to crack under intense impacts and not shatter into shards. It will hold up against winds up to 175 mph; winds reaching 100 mph send objects flying at 34 mph.
- Shutters will often dent when impacted. This can sometimes make it difficult or impossible to open them when the storm is over. Conversely, impact windows often deflect objects coming at them at lower speeds.
Impact windows consist of two panes with a protective membrane in between. If the outer pane breaks, only that pane needs to be replaced.
If the outer panel or both panes are impacted, they “spiderweb” and remain intact – no glass shards will reach the interior.
- Impact windows keep out wind and rain. Shutters primarily protect against impacts and not against rain or wind. Insurance companies offer discounts to homeowners who install impact windows or shutters, but window installations recognize greater savings.
Which is More Affordable?
We’ll be honest: hurricane shutters are more affordable than impact windows and they do protect windows up to a point.
That said, shutters are usually made from steel and aluminum and generally need to be replaced more often since flying objects tend to dent and damage them. No one wants to see dented hurricane shutters hanging off a home!
If you’re interested in curb appeal, hurricane shutters can be quite attractive. They often add an accent to an otherwise plain exterior and are often available in any number of styles – accordion, roll-up, a Bahama style that lifts up and over the window – and in colors. Add in impact resistant windows, and you’ve maximized the value of a home in terms of safety.
More Benefits From Windows!
When you install impact resistant windows, you get more benefits than from shutters alone:
- Impact resistant windows are very burglar-proof
- Impact windows protect against hot, humid air at any speed and you’ll save on your energy bills.
- Tinting windows adds another layer of protection from the sun’s heat and your eyes.
Impact windows work all the time – there’s no need to put them in a position like shutters. This is very useful if you’re away from home when a storm strikes.