Hurricanes are scary enough, but the idea of broken glass flying through your living room at 155 mph is downright terrifying. Add to that the scary thought that hurricane winds coming in through broken windows can create dangerous pressures inside your home that can collapse your walls and roof.
Here are four ways to hurricane-proof your windows:
Add hurricane window film
Tough, clear plastic hurricane film is popular because you can’t really see it, and you can leave it in place year-round. If the glass breaks, hurricane film prevents glass shards from zipping around inside your home.
If you’re an average DIYer, you can install peel-and-stick hurricane film on your windows for a mere $25 per linear foot. As a bonus, the film blocks ultraviolet light that can fade carpets and fabric.
The downside to hurricane film--and it's a big one--is that the film isn’t strong enough to stop hurricane winds from blowing in the entire window frame. That's why most insurance companies don't offer discounts for hurricane film and why you should also shield your windows with plywood.
Shield windows with plywood
Good old plywood is one of the building industry’s toughest materials, and is hard to beat for storm protection. Some tips for using plywood to shield your windows:
- Cut sheets of 1/2- or 5/8-inch-thick plywood. Make sure you overlap window frames by a good 8 inches all around.
- Use heavy-duty screws and anchors (in wood) or expansion bolts (in masonry) to attach the plywood to your home's walls (not the window frames).
- Pre-install screw anchors around window openings to speed up installation.
- Store shields in a handy location where you can reach them easily and put them up fast.
- Keep your cordless battery charged so it’ll be ready to use when a storm is coming.
- Keep extra flashlights and batteries handy in your home. It gets very dark inside once the plywood is installed.
- Expect to spend $1 to $2 per square foot if you do the work yourself and $3 to $5 per square foot if you hire someone.
Add storm shutters
Because roll-up or accordion-type storm shutters are permanent, they’re a snap to deploy when a storm comes. All you have to do is pull the shutters into place before a hurricane to prevent damage and broken windows.
If you’re skittish about being in the dark, look for shutters that have perforations or are made from tough translucent fiberglass that lets in light.
Expect to spend anywhere from $10 to $50 per square foot for professional installation of storm shutters, depending on style and material.
Install high-impact glass windows
The great thing about windows with high-impact glass is that they’re always in place, ready to beat back anything hurled by hurricane-force winds. These brawny buddies are made up of two panes of tempered glass separated by a plastic film. They come in standard sizes and shapes so they won't make your home look like a Brinks truck.
Expect to pay three times as much for a window with high-impact glass as for a regular window of the same size and type.
Ask about home insurance discounts
To encourage you to take steps to minimize damage, your insurer might offer discounts for hurricane-mitigation improvements. In Florida's Miami-Dade County, for example, the annual insurance premium on an older home insured for $150,000 runs between $3,000 and $8,000, assuming no hurricane-mitigation improvements. With improvements, such as storm shutters or high-impact glass, the same home would cost between $1,000 and $3,500 to insure.