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Shutters or impact-resistant windows?

Hurricane protection is mandatory on residential and commercial buildings throughout Florida. When it comes to protecting your windows, you have two main choices: shutters or impact-resistant windows. But which is best?

Both solutions have their proponents and their detractors, but it’s never quite as simple as it may appear. There are solid reasons for both.

Windows: convenient and elegant

Impact-resistant windows offer one immense practical advantage: they’re always in position, whenever you need them. Unlike shutters, they don’t need to be deployed when the hurricane warning sounds. Although modern shutters offer electrical deployment systems, and the most advanced ones can even be deployed via cellphone, you still have to remember to protect your house. Older shutters may require considerable physical work (as will electrically operated shutters when the power is out), and access to upper windows may be difficult if the shutters are externally operating. Impact-resistant windows just sidestep that whole problem.

Another advantage of using hurricane-proof windows is that they also provide constant protection against intruders. Although they’re not completely unbreakable, they are considerably harder to shatter than traditional window glass.

Homeowners also like impact-resistant windows because they aren’t unsightly. They are a part of the home, and don’t require external tracks or mounting points. They can be designed in any shape, including arches or round windows, and they don’t cut out any light. Something to consider is that once closed, shutters will block out all light coming into your home, and if you lose power, you will be in complete darkness, even during the day.

Finally, impact-resistant windows can add value to your home. Good quality modern windows will not only provide hurricane protection, but they will also reduce the UV light coming into your home which protects furniture, carpets and drapes, cut your energy bills by providing better insulation, and reduce noise. Some insurance companies will also offer you a discount on your premiums.

Shutters: cheap and tough

The biggest advantage of shutters is that they can work out much cheaper than impact-resistant windows. There are many different types of shutters, both in terms of construction and material, from clear plastic to aluminum or steel and you can pick a shutter that suits your budget. Not only are they cheaper to install, but if they’re damaged, they are considerably cheaper and quicker to repair.

Superior grade shutters also offer greater resistance than glass. Whatever type of hurricane protection you choose, you can be assured that it meets very strict testing criteria for both wind speed and debris impacts. Hurricane windows will typically withstand winds up to 140mph. The best steel shutters can handle nearly 200mph. Although those extreme wind speeds are highly unlikely – Hurricane Katrina, for example, reached a maximum of 120 mph when it made landfall – some homeowners may find the extra level of protection reassuring, particularly in the more exposed coastal regions.

Which is for you?

First, consider the practical issues. If you’re going to be away during hurricane season, then you won’t be around to deploy shutters when they’re needed. Unless you have a neighbor or groundsman who can take care of that for you, then you’d need to install remotely operated ones. In that case, windows are probably the best solution.

If cost is a key issue, then shutters potentially offer a cheaper and more affordable solution.

But if neither of the above is a significant factor, then it’s mostly a matter of looks and your personal preferences. Talk to us about your hurricane protection needs, and we’d be happy to advise you on the available options.

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