Storm Panels: Hurricane Screens Explained

Storm panels, also known as hurricane screens, are an essential component of hurricane preparedness for homes and buildings located in areas prone to tropical storms and hurricanes. These protective barriers are designed to shield windows and doors from the destructive forces of high winds and flying debris, which can cause significant damage during a hurricane.

The purpose of this glossary entry is to provide an in-depth explanation of storm panels, their types, installation process, benefits, and considerations. By understanding these aspects, homeowners and builders can make informed decisions about the best hurricane protection solutions for their properties.

Understanding Storm Panels

Storm panels are protective coverings that are installed over windows and doors to protect them from the impact of wind-borne debris during a hurricane. They are typically made of steel, aluminum, or polycarbonate, and come in various designs to suit different architectural styles and protection needs.

Unlike permanent fixtures such as hurricane windows, storm panels are removable. They are installed when a hurricane is imminent and removed after the storm has passed. This feature allows homeowners to enjoy natural light and views when the weather is clear, while still having robust protection available when needed.

Types of Storm Panels

There are several types of storm panels available on the market, each with its unique features and benefits. The most common types include aluminum storm panels, steel storm panels, and clear polycarbonate storm panels.

Aluminum storm panels are lightweight, making them easy to install and remove. They are also resistant to corrosion, which is an important consideration in coastal areas where salt air can cause metal to deteriorate quickly.

Steel Storm Panels

Steel storm panels are stronger and more durable than aluminum panels, making them a good choice for homes in areas with high hurricane risk. However, they are also heavier, which can make installation and removal more challenging.

Clear polycarbonate storm panels offer the same level of protection as metal panels but allow light to pass through. This can make a home feel less closed in during a storm and can also be beneficial for businesses that want to maintain visibility even when their storm panels are up.

Installation of Storm Panels

The installation process for storm panels involves attaching tracks or channels to the exterior of a home around windows and doors. These tracks hold the panels in place during a storm. The panels are then slid into the tracks and secured with fasteners when a storm is approaching.

Installation can be a DIY project for handy homeowners, but many people choose to hire professionals to ensure the job is done correctly. Proper installation is crucial for the panels to provide the maximum level of protection.

DIY Installation

For those who choose to install storm panels themselves, it’s important to carefully measure each window and door to ensure the panels will fit correctly. The panels should be slightly larger than the opening they are covering to provide a secure fit.

Once the panels are cut to size, tracks or channels are attached to the home using screws or bolts. The panels are then slid into the tracks and secured with fasteners. It’s important to check the panels regularly to ensure they are still securely in place, especially during a storm.

Professional Installation

Professional installation of storm panels can provide peace of mind that the job has been done correctly. Professionals have the experience and tools to ensure the panels are properly fitted and secured, providing the maximum level of protection.

When hiring a professional, it’s important to choose a company that is licensed and insured, and that has a good reputation for quality work. It’s also a good idea to get several quotes to ensure you are getting a fair price.

Benefits of Storm Panels

Storm panels offer several benefits for homeowners and businesses in hurricane-prone areas. One of the main benefits is the protection they provide against wind-borne debris, which can cause significant damage during a hurricane.

By protecting windows and doors, storm panels can prevent wind and water from entering a home, reducing the risk of interior damage. They can also prevent the sudden pressure changes that can occur when a window or door is broken during a storm, which can lead to structural damage.

Cost-Effectiveness

Storm panels are a cost-effective solution for hurricane protection. They are less expensive than permanent fixtures such as hurricane windows, and can be a good choice for homeowners on a budget.

While there is an upfront cost for the panels and installation, they can save money in the long run by preventing costly damage during a hurricane. They can also potentially lower insurance premiums, as many insurance companies offer discounts for homes with hurricane protection measures in place.

Flexibility

Another benefit of storm panels is their flexibility. Because they are removable, homeowners can choose when to put them up and take them down. This allows for natural light and views when the weather is clear, and robust protection when a storm is on the way.

Storm panels can also be customized to fit any size or shape of window or door, making them a versatile solution for any home or building.

Considerations When Choosing Storm Panels

When choosing storm panels, there are several factors to consider. These include the type of material, the level of protection needed, the ease of installation and removal, and the aesthetic appeal of the panels.

It’s also important to consider the local building codes and insurance requirements. Some areas have specific requirements for hurricane protection, and failing to meet these can result in fines or increased insurance premiums.

Material Type

The type of material used in storm panels can affect their strength, weight, and appearance. Aluminum panels are lightweight and resistant to corrosion, but are not as strong as steel panels. Steel panels are stronger and more durable, but are heavier and may require more effort to install and remove.

Clear polycarbonate panels offer the same level of protection as metal panels, but allow light to pass through. They can be a good choice for those who want to maintain natural light and visibility during a storm.

Level of Protection

The level of protection needed will depend on the location of the home or building, and the frequency and intensity of hurricanes in the area. Homes in high-risk areas may require stronger panels, while those in lower-risk areas may be able to use lighter, less expensive panels.

It’s also important to consider the size and shape of the windows and doors to be protected. Larger or irregularly shaped openings may require custom panels, which can be more expensive.

Conclusion

Storm panels are a critical component of hurricane preparedness for homes and buildings in hurricane-prone areas. By understanding the different types of panels, the installation process, and the benefits and considerations, homeowners and builders can make informed decisions about the best hurricane protection solutions for their properties.

While there is an upfront cost for storm panels, they can provide significant savings in the long run by preventing costly damage during a hurricane. With the right panels and proper installation, homeowners can have peace of mind knowing their homes are protected against the destructive forces of a hurricane.

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