Do I need hurricane shutters if I have impact windows?

Key Takeaways: Securing Your Home

  • Hurricane shutters provide a protective barrier for your windows during storms but require manual setup and removal.

  • Impact windows are designed to withstand hurricane-force winds and debris without shattering.

  • While both options offer protection, impact windows offer continuous protection without the need for setup.

  • Considering factors such as budget, aesthetics, and maintenance can help determine the best choice for your home.

  • Impact windows can increase property value and may offer insurance benefits, while shutters are often more budget-friendly.

Understanding Hurricane Shutters

Now, let's talk about hurricane shutters. These are the guards that stand between your windows and the chaos of a storm. They come in various styles, such as roll-down, accordion, and colonial, to name a few. Each type offers a different blend of protection, aesthetics, and ease of use.

Types of Hurricane Shutters and Their Protective Measures

Roll-down shutters are like a metal curtain for your windows, operated manually or with a motor. Accordion shutters fold out from the sides, and colonial shutters are hinged at the sides of the window, adding a traditional aesthetic. All types are designed to absorb and deflect the energy of flying debris, keeping your windows and home safe.

Installing and Removing Hurricane Shutters

Unlike impact windows, hurricane shutters aren't always on duty. They require setup before a storm and takedown afterward. This can be a hassle, but it's a cost-effective solution for storm protection. And if you're handy, you might be able to manage the installation yourself, saving on costs.

Comparative Analysis of Cost and Protection

When it comes to choosing between impact windows and hurricane shutters, two key factors stand out: cost and protection. Impact windows are typically more expensive upfront but offer continuous protection. On the other hand, hurricane shutters are less costly but require manual labor to install and remove with each storm threat.

Let's break it down further. The cost of impact windows can be quite high, especially if you're retrofitting an existing home. You're looking at several hundred dollars per window, which adds up quickly for a whole house. But, once they're in place, there's little else to worry about.

Hurricane shutters are generally more budget-friendly, with prices that can be significantly lower than impact windows. However, they might come with hidden costs, like the need for storage space and the potential for maintenance issues due to their mechanical nature.

When it comes to protection, both options meet the stringent codes required in hurricane-prone areas. The choice often comes down to a balance between how much you're willing to invest initially versus the convenience and ongoing readiness you prefer.

Long-term Benefits and Convenience

Investing in impact windows can offer long-term benefits that go beyond storm protection. They can enhance your home's energy efficiency, leading to lower utility bills, and may also reduce noise pollution. Additionally, they're a permanent addition to your home that can increase its market value.

Convenience is another major factor. With impact windows, you don't need to do anything when a storm approaches, unlike with shutters that require you to spend time putting them up and taking them down. This can be a significant advantage for those with mobility issues or who travel frequently.

What You Must Know About Impact Windows

Imagine a baseball flying towards your window at high speed. With regular glass, you'd expect a shatter, but with impact windows, that ball bounces off, leaving the glass intact. That's the kind of protection we're talking about when it comes to impact windows. These are not your average windows; they're built with a combination of heavy-duty frames and laminated glass to stand up to Mother Nature's worst tantrums.

The Structure and Durability of Impact Windows

Here's the science behind it: impact windows consist of two sheets of glass bonded with a clear, strong resin interlayer. When hit by debris, the glass may crack, but the resin keeps the overall window intact, preventing dangerous shards from entering your home. This resilience is crucial, especially in hurricane-prone areas where flying debris is common during storms.

But it's not just about the glass. The frames of impact windows are also designed to be robust. They're typically made from materials like aluminum, vinyl, or steel, which are tested to withstand high-pressure and cyclic loadings that mimic hurricane conditions.

How Impact Windows Provide Home Safety

Impact windows are a set-and-forget solution. Once installed, they're always ready, providing round-the-clock protection. This means no frantic rush to put up shutters when a storm is on the horizon. And let's not forget the other perks: reduced outside noise, UV protection, and potential energy savings due to their insulative properties. Plus, they can deter burglars, given their resistance to breakage.

Deciding on the Right Option for Your Home

Choosing between impact windows and hurricane shutters is a decision that depends on your specific needs and circumstances. You'll want to consider factors such as the frequency of storms in your area, your budget, and how much time and effort you're willing to invest in storm preparation.

Considering the Aesthetic Impact on Your Home

The look of your home is important, and both impact windows and hurricane shutters have distinct aesthetic impacts. Impact windows are sleek and nearly indistinguishable from regular windows, maintaining your home's appearance year-round. Shutters, depending on the type, can add a different look, ranging from modern to traditional, but they may not be suitable for every home style.

Here's what you need to consider:

  • Do you prefer a solution that's visible only when needed or one that blends in seamlessly?

  • Will the addition of shutters complement your home's architecture, or would the subtlety of impact windows be a better match?

Visualize your home with each option and decide which aligns best with your vision.

Assessing Installation Costs and Maintenance

The initial installation cost of impact windows can be daunting, but remember that this is a one-time expense. There's minimal maintenance involved, and the durability of impact windows means they can last for decades. In contrast, hurricane shutters may require occasional maintenance, such as lubricating hinges or repairing mechanical parts.

Final Word: Making the Choice for Home Safety

Ultimately, the decision between impact windows and hurricane shutters comes down to what you value most: the higher upfront cost and continuous protection of impact windows, or the lower initial investment and periodic maintenance of hurricane shutters.

Most importantly, either choice will increase the safety of your home during a storm. The right decision is the one that gives you peace of mind, knowing you've done what's best for your family's protection.

For example, a homeowner in Miami might opt for impact windows due to the high frequency of hurricanes, while someone in a less storm-prone area might choose shutters for occasional use.


Can impact windows replace hurricane shutters completely?

Impact windows are often seen as a more permanent solution compared to hurricane shutters. They are designed to be a one-time installation that offers year-round protection without the need for any additional steps when a storm is announced. Because of this, many homeowners consider whether they can forgo hurricane shutters entirely if they have impact windows installed.

Here's the bottom line: Impact windows can, in fact, replace hurricane shutters completely in terms of protection. They are engineered to meet the same safety standards and building codes as hurricane shutters. The deciding factor for many is the cost and whether they're willing to make the initial investment in impact windows, which tend to be more expensive upfront.

However, there's a caveat. While impact windows provide excellent protection against flying debris and high winds, they do not offer the same flexibility as shutters if you want to add an additional layer of security or change the aesthetics of your home. Shutters can be decorative as well as functional, and some homeowners appreciate the ability to change the look and feel of their home's exterior.

What additional benefits do impact windows offer?

Beyond storm protection, impact windows bring a host of other advantages to the table. They are like a Swiss Army knife for your home, offering multiple benefits in one package. Let's explore these perks:

  • Energy Efficiency: Impact windows provide excellent insulation, which can help keep your home cool during hot summer months and reduce your energy bills.

  • UV Protection: These windows can block harmful UV rays, which protects your interior furnishings from fading over time.

  • Noise Reduction: The laminated glass and sturdy frames significantly reduce outside noise, making your home a quieter, more peaceful place.

  • Security: Due to their tough construction, impact windows also add an extra layer of security against break-ins and burglaries.

  • Insurance Discounts: Many insurance companies offer discounts on homeowners' insurance premiums for houses equipped with impact windows.

These benefits make impact windows an attractive option for many homeowners, beyond just the aspect of hurricane protection.

Are hurricane shutters necessary for all homes in hurricane-prone areas?

While impact windows offer a high level of protection, hurricane shutters are still a viable and necessary option for many homeowners. Here's why:

  • Some homes may already have standard windows installed, and the owners might not be ready to replace them with impact windows due to the cost.

  • Hurricane shutters can be added to existing windows, providing an additional layer of protection without the need for full window replacement.

  • For rental properties or homes not frequently used during hurricane season, shutters can be a more cost-effective solution.

So, while impact windows are an excellent choice for many, hurricane shutters remain a necessary and effective form of protection for others, especially when considering the variety of circumstances and budgets.

How do I balance cost with the level of home safety?

Balancing cost with safety is a common concern for homeowners. It's essential to weigh the initial investment against the long-term benefits and peace of mind. Here's a strategy to consider:

  • Assess the frequency of storms in your area and the potential damage they could cause to determine the level of protection you need.

  • Compare the upfront costs and long-term benefits of both impact windows and hurricane shutters.

  • Consider the potential savings on energy bills and insurance premiums that impact windows may offer.

  • Factor in the convenience and maintenance requirements of each option.

Remember, investing in either impact windows or hurricane shutters is an investment in your home's safety and your family's protection. The right balance will depend on your individual situation, but both options are investments worth considering.

Can impact windows and hurricane shutters be used together?

Yes, impact windows and hurricane shutters can be used together, and in some cases, doing so may provide the ultimate peace of mind. Combining the two can offer an extra layer of protection, which can be particularly appealing to those living in areas that frequently experience severe storms. Here's how they can complement each other:

  • Impact windows provide continuous protection and added benefits like UV filtering and noise reduction.

  • Hurricane shutters can be closed to provide an additional barrier during a storm, which can be especially useful for protecting against larger debris or for added security when the property is unoccupied.

Ultimately, using both impact windows and hurricane shutters is a personal choice. Some homeowners might prefer the added security, while others may opt for one or the other based on their specific needs and budget constraints.