Storm Panels: Commercial Hurricane Shutters Explained

In the realm of commercial construction and property management, storm panels, also known as hurricane shutters, are a critical component in safeguarding buildings from the devastating effects of hurricanes and other severe weather conditions. These protective barriers serve as the first line of defense, shielding windows and doors from high-speed winds, heavy rains, and flying debris. This glossary article aims to provide an in-depth understanding of storm panels, their types, installation process, maintenance, and regulatory standards.

Storm panels are not just a protective measure, but they also contribute to the overall structural integrity of a building during a hurricane. They help in maintaining the pressure balance inside the building, preventing sudden roof lifts or structural collapses. Understanding the different types of storm panels and their specific features is crucial for making an informed decision for your commercial property.

Types of Storm Panels

Storm panels come in a variety of types, each offering unique benefits and drawbacks. The choice of storm panels largely depends on the specific needs of the building, local building codes, and budget constraints. The most common types include aluminum storm panels, clear polycarbonate storm panels, and steel storm panels.

Each type of storm panel serves a specific purpose and offers a different level of protection. For instance, aluminum storm panels are lightweight and easy to install, making them a popular choice for commercial buildings. On the other hand, steel storm panels are known for their superior strength and durability, but they are heavier and require more effort to install.

Aluminum Storm Panels

Aluminum storm panels are made from high-quality aluminum, which is both lightweight and durable. These panels are typically corrugated to increase their strength and resistance to impact. Aluminum storm panels are easy to install and remove, making them a practical choice for buildings that require frequent installation and removal of storm panels.

Despite their lightweight nature, aluminum storm panels provide excellent protection against hurricane-force winds and flying debris. They are also resistant to corrosion, ensuring a long lifespan. However, they are not as strong as steel storm panels and may not offer the same level of protection in extremely severe weather conditions.

Clear Polycarbonate Storm Panels

Clear polycarbonate storm panels are made from a type of plastic that is incredibly strong and resistant to impact. These panels offer the same level of protection as aluminum or steel storm panels, but with the added benefit of transparency. This means that even when the panels are installed, natural light can still enter the building.

Polycarbonate storm panels are also lightweight and easy to install. However, they are more expensive than aluminum or steel storm panels. They also require regular cleaning to maintain their transparency, which can add to the overall maintenance cost.

Installation of Storm Panels

The installation process of storm panels is a critical aspect that determines their effectiveness in protecting a building during a hurricane. The process involves several steps, including measuring the windows and doors, preparing the mounting hardware, and attaching the panels. It’s important to note that the installation process may vary depending on the type of storm panels and the specific requirements of the building.

Proper installation of storm panels is crucial for their effectiveness. Incorrectly installed panels may not provide the desired level of protection and could potentially cause damage to the building. Therefore, it’s highly recommended to hire a professional installer who is familiar with local building codes and has experience in installing storm panels.

Measuring and Preparing the Mounting Hardware

The first step in the installation process is to measure the windows and doors that need to be protected. These measurements are used to determine the size of the storm panels and the amount of mounting hardware required. It’s important to measure accurately to ensure a snug fit of the panels.

The mounting hardware, which typically includes tracks or bolts, is then prepared based on the measurements. The hardware is usually made from durable materials like stainless steel or aluminum to withstand the harsh weather conditions during a hurricane.

Attaching the Storm Panels

Once the mounting hardware is prepared, the storm panels are then attached to the windows and doors. This process involves aligning the panels with the mounting hardware and securing them in place with screws or bolts. It’s important to ensure that the panels are securely attached and there are no gaps that could allow wind or water to enter the building.

After the panels are attached, they should be checked for stability and fit. Any loose or ill-fitting panels should be adjusted or replaced to ensure maximum protection. The installation process should be completed well in advance of a hurricane to allow for any necessary adjustments or replacements.

Maintenance of Storm Panels

Regular maintenance of storm panels is essential to ensure their longevity and effectiveness. This includes cleaning the panels, checking for damage, and making necessary repairs. The specific maintenance requirements may vary depending on the type of storm panels.

Aluminum and steel storm panels should be cleaned with a mild detergent and water to remove any dirt or debris. They should also be checked for signs of corrosion and treated with a rust inhibitor if necessary. Clear polycarbonate storm panels should be cleaned with a non-abrasive cleaner to avoid scratching the surface.

Checking for Damage

Storm panels should be regularly checked for any signs of damage, such as dents, cracks, or loose mounting hardware. Any damaged panels should be replaced immediately to ensure the building is adequately protected during a hurricane. It’s also important to check the mounting hardware for any signs of wear or damage and replace it if necessary.

Damage to storm panels can occur due to a variety of factors, including impact from flying debris, exposure to harsh weather conditions, and normal wear and tear. Regular inspections can help identify any potential issues early and prevent further damage.

Making Necessary Repairs

If any damage is found during the inspection, it’s important to make the necessary repairs as soon as possible. This may involve replacing damaged panels, tightening loose mounting hardware, or treating areas of corrosion. In some cases, it may be necessary to hire a professional to make the repairs.

Regular maintenance and timely repairs not only ensure the effectiveness of storm panels but also extend their lifespan. This can result in significant cost savings in the long run.

Regulatory Standards for Storm Panels

Storm panels are subject to various regulatory standards to ensure their quality and effectiveness. These standards are set by organizations such as the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and the International Code Council (ICC). They cover various aspects of storm panels, including their design, installation, and performance during a hurricane.

Compliance with these standards is crucial for ensuring the safety and protection of a building during a hurricane. Non-compliance can result in penalties and could potentially invalidate insurance claims in the event of hurricane damage.

Design and Installation Standards

Design and installation standards for storm panels specify the materials to be used, the method of installation, and the size and placement of the panels. These standards are designed to ensure that the panels are strong enough to withstand hurricane-force winds and flying debris.

For instance, the ASTM standard Dade County Protocol TAS 201 specifies that storm panels should be able to withstand a wind pressure of 50 pounds per square foot and an impact from a 9-pound 2×4 lumber projectile traveling at 34 mph. The standard also specifies the method of installation and the type of mounting hardware to be used.

Performance Standards

Performance standards for storm panels specify the level of protection they should provide during a hurricane. These standards are based on testing under simulated hurricane conditions and include criteria such as wind resistance, impact resistance, and water penetration.

For example, the ICC standard ICC-ES AC 376 specifies that storm panels should be able to withstand a wind speed of 130 mph without failing. The standard also specifies that the panels should not allow water penetration more than 5% of the time during a simulated hurricane.


Storm panels play a crucial role in protecting commercial buildings from the devastating effects of hurricanes. They come in various types, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. The choice of storm panels should be based on the specific needs of the building, local building codes, and budget constraints.

Proper installation and regular maintenance of storm panels are essential for their effectiveness. Compliance with regulatory standards is also crucial for ensuring the safety and protection of a building during a hurricane. By understanding the different aspects of storm panels, property owners and managers can make informed decisions and ensure the best possible protection for their buildings.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top