Streets strewn with traffic lights, iron-wrought lampposts and street signs snapped like matchsticks, lanais of steel and aluminum framing crumpled and blown away, we are just a few years removed from the devastating impact of Hurricane Irma and another near miss in Hurricane Dorian last year, hurricane season has officially begun. Collier and Lee County (Bonita Springs, Estero, Marco Island, Naples) have been particularly ravaged in recent memory incurring hundreds of millions of dollars in damage. Hurricanes are a part of life for any homeowner in Southwest Florida whether here to experience it or gone for the season. Each year homeowners need to ask themselves is their home ready with the proper hurricane shutters.
One of the most important considerations for homeowners is how they will protect the most vulnerable areas of their home such as windows, doors, and sliders. For example, should the homeowner use hurricane shutters verse impact windows? Should homeowners invest in impact windows? What about the newest and latest technology, like fabric hurricane shutters, how effective are they and are fabric hurricane shutters worth the sticker price? If a homeowner purchases hurricane shutters how much time and effort will it take to put them up, should they buy manual or electronic shutters?
Here at Halo Home Watch our goal is to give you guidance based on our extensive hurricane season experience in Southwest Florida (Bonita Springs, Estero, Naples, and Marco Island). This article breaks down some of the pros and cons homeowners need to consider when choosing the hurricane shutter that is best for them.
We all love open air living, lots of natural light, and windows everywhere looking out onto paradise, but this lifestyle leaves us vulnerable. Windows, doors, and sliders are the weakest part of any home and the main source of damage during a hurricane. This issue is exacerbated by the huge difference in air pressure between the storm and the home. Once the window is broken, those high-pressured winds enter your home. This immense change in pressure can cause for a large hole to break through your ceiling. Further, if the area of the roof that breaks is load bearing it can lead to a total collapse of the house!
Learn more information about hurricane basics
Therefore, any plan to protect your home during hurricane season starts with protecting your windows and sliders. This is important whether you are here full-time or seasonal. Impact windows and hurricane shutters are the two most viable solutions. However, there are several key factors to consider when deciding on what will best fit your needs.
Impact windows out of all the options give the homeowner the most seamless integration into the rest of the home, hardily distinguishable from traditional windows. It affords the homeowner all the protection and safety necessary for a home in Southwest Florida without compromising on the aesthetic appeal of the home.
In fact, in some cases homeowners can completely renovate the back of their home by installing Sliding Impact Windows and replacing the myriad of doors and windows interspersed with walls interrupting their gorgeous view out of the back of their home. Renovating this section with Sliding Impact Windows can completely change the area to a beautiful and convenient open-air option.
Impact Windows are the latest trend in window protection; however, they are accompanied with a hefty price tag. The reason these types of windows are more expensive is due to the installation requirements. For your windows to be protected against hurricanes it requires more than just the glass to be replaced. What can sometimes be overlooked when estimating the cost of going with Impact Windows is the need to replace the existing window frames as well. The frame and the glass work in tandem to resist hurricane speed projectiles.
There are two major types of framing if you go with Impact Windows:
Each state has their own codes and standards for when it comes to installing Impact Windows for the home. Therefore, states require homeowners to use licensed contractors when installing Impact Windows and Impact Sliding Glass Doors to ensure it is built to code.
For our Florida clients in particular you can check out this PDF presentation of the Florida Building Codes. It goes over some of the tests done to certify the manufacturing of impact glass, some of which include hurling a 9lb 2×4 at 50 feet per second directly at the window!
This is important as other solutions have DIY options that can help you save on costs.
Another viable solution to protect your home are hurricane panels and shutters.
A more cost effective option you can go with are Hurricane Shutters. They come in all shapes and sizes but we’ll go over the more prominent type in the Collier County area.
Here’s a video going over some of the steps and tools necessary for installing storm paneling.
In addition, the storm panels are made of aluminum and the keyholes are malleable. This makes them susceptible to changing shape over time. Therefore, it is important to match exactly the same panel to the specific window and corresponding screws they were previously used with.
As discussed in the video, the Storm Paneling will need to be maintained after use to prevent corrosion. Once the storm has passed you should clean the shutters with soap and water as well as stand vertically until they dry.
Storm Panels are not permanently attached to the mounting bars either, so they will need to be stored somewhere like a shed or garage. Luckily they do stack easily so not much extra space is required.
Recently there has been a lot of innovation in hurricane protection technology, one of the latest inventions is fabric hurricane shutters. Fabric Hurricane Shutters can be made of several different synthetic fibers. The material is strong and flexible allowing it to be used and fitted to almost any home. Further, the material is lightweight, weighing a fraction of those heavy aluminum panels making it far less strenuous to put up.
Fabric Hurricane Shutters like Impact Windows must be built according to Florida building code and upon installation an inspection is required to ensure their integrity. Fabric Hurricane Shutters are a great next step in the evolution of hurricane protection. They are lightweight, easy to install, easy to store, and can be reused after a storm. However, they are expensive with a limited useful life.
Hanging Hurricane Shutters is a very labor intensive and strenuous job especially given that hurricanes happen during the hottest and most humid time of the year. While they may be the cheapest option from an installation perspective it is important to factor into your budget the cost of having them hung every hurricane season whether its due to being a seasonal resident also known as a “snowbird” or are a full-time resident who is no longer physically capable of hanging the hurricane shutters by yourself.
Official hurricane season starts June 1st and goes until November 30th. Peak hurricane season runs from early August through the end of October. If you are not going to be around it is important before you go away for the season or before hurricane season starts to have a company under contract.
Do not wait until the last minute to contract a reliable and reputable company to hang your hurricane shutters or it can cost you major bucks!
Most Home Watch Companies will also provide storm season services as well. It is important to ask your home watch provider their hurricane season plan. Remember, the number of homes a home watch company can provide storm season services for is far less than the homes they do regular home watch services, if they tell you otherwise they are being dishonest.
Each year make sure to perform a dry-run before hurricane season starts. Any storm season service provider worth their salt will always do a dry run for any new client and should do a dry run every year.
The purpose of a dry-run is to ensure that all relevant parts are on hand and in working condition. Further, it is vital to test the working condition of each mounting apparatus. This is important as the threading of the screws can become stripped over time or cease.
Whether you or your home watch company performs the service, make sure that the panels are appropriately labeled by window and panel order.
Last, if you do use a Storm Season Service provider make sure they are licensed and insured.
Many residents in Southwest Florida (Bonita Springs, Estero, Marco Island, Naples) are retired. In fact, the average age is over 65 years old. This can become an issue given the physical requirements necessary to hang these shutters. This makes electronic shutters an attractive option. It gives you unparalleled convenience and removes the physical burden of manual shutters.
Just like other options, electronic shutters need to be maintained to stay in top working condition in the event of a hurricane.
It is important if you have electronic shutters, to lower and raise the shutters once a month. Remember, never allow the panels to completely lock because over time this can lead to the panels buckling and breaking down. Always have at least two working remotes with extra batteries.
If you are only here part-time and go back north for the summer, it is important to show your Home Watch Professional where both the remotes and the extra batteries are kept. The last thing you want is for the shutters not to work in the event of an emergency.
It is important to have your electronic shutters serviced periodically so they maintain good working condition, so you get a long useful life out of your investment. If you do not know of a reputable vendor, ask your Home Watch Provider.
Manual shutters both fabric or aluminum are significantly cheaper than purchasing an electronic option. However, manual shutters are both time and labor intensive. While fabric shutters are less strenuous than aluminum shutters there is nothing like the click of a button. However, financially they may not be an option for every resident.
I hope what we’ve gone over in this article has helped to address some of the questions you have about hurricane shutters and impact windows as well as assessing which option works best for you.
The Naples-Marco Island Metropolitan area is growing leaps and bounds, with new neighborhoods springing up all over. As more people flock to Southwest Florida the prices for homes will continue to rise forcing homeowners to decide on what options and upgrades make the most sense. However it is important to consider more than just your budget.
You really want to evaluate how each type of hurricane protection can either enhance or detract from the look of the home, how strenuous the option is on you, and your ability to prepare your home in the event of a hurricane, especially if you are gone for the season.
We always suggest investing in Impact Windows if it is financially feasible. It minimally affects the aesthetic of the home, provides insulation, eliminate the need for any setup, and ultimately provides ample protection against hurricanes. But, Impact Windows are not an option for every homeowner and shutters are an affordable solution that can make owning your dream home in a tropical paradise a reality.
Just remember if you buy shutters to have them serviced, perform dry-runs, evaluate the exterior screws, assess the panels, and make sure you have everything on hand you need.
If you are not physically able to perform this responsibility, do not wait! Make sure to contract a local Home Watch Company to provide this storm season service, especially if you are away for the season.
There are plenty of in between options for older home owners like fabric hurricane shutters that cost more but are far less strenuous and electronic shutter systems. In fact, some electronic systems can now be controlled from your phone anywhere!
However, just like old-fashioned manual aluminum shutters these newer systems need to be maintained. Also, always make sure your Home Watch Company has everything they need in the event of an emergency.
Remember hurricane shutters or impact windows are just a part of Hurricane Preparedness. Whether it’s storm paneling, shutters, moving lawn furniture, securing windows and doors, or stowing away projectiles it is important to have a well thought out plan to protect your home during Storm Season. If you know you will not be around during Storm Season make sure to research different storm season service providers that can assist you and your home. If you have any questions for the Halo Home Watch Team please email us or leave a comment below!
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“Hurricane Shutter Guide: Compare Types.” Sun, 6 Sept. 2017, https://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/weather/hurricane/sfl-hc-shutterguide-htmlstory.html.
“Learn How Much It Costs to Install Hurricane Shutters.” HomeAdvisor, https://www.homeadvisor.com/cost/doors-and-windows/hurricane-shutters/.
Rodriguez, Juan. “How Much Cost Will Hurricane-Resistant Windows Add?” The Balance Small Business, The Balance Small Business, 24 Apr. 2019, https://www.thebalancesmb.com/how-much-cost-will-a-hurricane-resistant-window-add-844562.
Hurricane Screens. (n.d.). Retrieved from high Wind Shutters: https://highwindshutters.com/products/hurricane-screens
Storm Catcher Hurricane Wind Abatement Screen FAQs. (n.d.). Retrieved from Storm Catcher: http://stormcatcher.com/hurricaneprotection/faq/
Storm Catcher Screens. (n.d.). Retrieved from Storm Smart: https://www.stormsmart.com/storm-catcher-screens/