Hurricane Impact Windows vs. Shutters: Which is Right for You?

Key Takeaways

  • Impact windows offer enhanced protection, noise reduction, and energy efficiency without the need for setup before storms.

  • Shutters provide cost-effective protection with a variety of styles but require manual setup and storage.

  • Considering your specific environment, risks, and budget is crucial in choosing between impact windows and shutters.

  • Understanding the long-term value, including potential insurance discounts, can influence your decision.

  • Consulting with professionals can provide personalized recommendations for your home's protection needs.

Impact Resistance: A Primary Concern

When a hurricane barrels towards your home, you need a fortress, not just a facade. And when it comes to protecting your windows – the most vulnerable parts of your house – you've got two main choices: impact windows or shutters. Each has its merits, and choosing the right one could mean the difference between a breezy cleanup and a major overhaul post-storm.

What Defines Impact Windows

Imagine a baseball hurtling towards your window at high speed. Now, picture that window not just surviving the impact, but standing strong without shattering. That's the power of impact windows. They're built with a sturdy frame and laminated glass that holds together even when cracked. This resilience is due to a clear, strong interlayer sandwiched between two layers of glass, which prevents the window from breaking apart.

But impact windows aren't just about withstanding flying debris. They're also about keeping your home sealed off from the howling winds that can cause pressure imbalances severe enough to rip a roof off. Because they're permanently installed, there's no last-minute rush to set them up when a storm is on the horizon.

Shutters as a Traditional Solution

Shutters are the old-school heroes of hurricane protection. They come in various styles – from the roll-down type to the accordion or the colonial – and they all serve one purpose: to act as a shield for your windows. Most shutters are made from durable materials like aluminum or steel, and when a storm is announced, you'll close or install them over your windows to fend off the wrath of Mother Nature.

Shutters have been the go-to for storm protection for years, and many homeowners swear by them. They're typically more affordable than impact windows and can be added to existing homes without replacing the windows. However, they do require some elbow grease to install and remove, and you'll need a place to store them when not in use.

Breaking Down the Barrier: Impact Windows Advantages

Strength That Stands Up to Severity

Let's talk about strength. With impact windows, you're getting a product that's designed to handle the brute force of a Category 5 hurricane. The engineering behind these windows is focused on resisting impacts from flying debris, which can be lifesaving during a storm. Plus, their structural integrity means they're also a deterrent against burglars, offering you peace of mind year-round.

Energy Efficiency and Noise Reduction

However the benefits of impact windows extend beyond storm protection. These windows can also be a boon for your energy bills. Their construction helps insulate your home, keeping the cool air in during the hot months and vice versa. This means your air conditioner and heater don't have to work as hard, leading to lower energy costs.

And if you've ever been kept awake by the sound of traffic or noisy neighbors, you'll appreciate the added bonus of noise reduction. The same laminated glass that keeps storms at bay also helps mute the outside world, letting you enjoy a quieter, more peaceful home environment.

Consistent Protection with No Setup

One of the biggest advantages of impact windows is their always-on protection. There's no need to scramble to put up shutters as a storm approaches. Your windows are always ready, offering constant defense against not just storms, but also intruders and everyday accidents. This convenience is a significant factor for many homeowners who want protection without the hassle.

The Case for Shutters: A Closer Look

Cost-Effectiveness and Installation

Most importantly, shutters are generally less expensive than impact windows. They are a budget-friendly option for those looking to protect their homes without a hefty initial investment. Shutters can be a smart choice if you're working within a tight budget but still want to ensure your home is safeguarded against storms.

Besides that, the installation of shutters can often be a do-it-yourself project for the handy homeowner. This means you can save on labor costs, though it's essential to ensure they're installed correctly to provide adequate protection.

Style Variety and Aesthetic Appeal

Shutters aren't just practical; they also offer aesthetic versatility. Whether you prefer the traditional look of colonial shutters, the sleek appearance of roll-down models, or the convenience of accordion shutters, there's a style to suit your home's architecture and your personal taste.

Furthermore, shutters can be painted to match your home's exterior, making them an integral part of your home's curb appeal. This customization allows you to enhance the look of your home while also protecting it.

Practicality in Removal and Storage

Shutters can be removed or opened when not in use, allowing natural light into your home and maintaining your view. This feature is particularly appealing for those who do not want to compromise on the aesthetics of their home's exterior.

However, it's important to consider the storage space required for shutters when they're not protecting your windows. If you have limited storage, this could be a deciding factor in your choice between impact windows and shutters.

Key Considerations for Making Your Choice

Decision Drivers: Evaluating Your Needs

Choosing between impact windows and shutters isn't just about cost—it's about your lifestyle, the climate you live in, and the level of convenience you desire. If you're in a hurricane-prone area, consider the peace of mind impact windows could offer. They're always in place, ready to protect without the hassle of installation as a storm approaches. However, if you're in a less volatile climate or prioritize budget, shutters could be a sufficient and flexible option. They can be closed as needed and are less of an upfront investment.

Getting Expert Advice for Your Home

Seeking professional advice can be invaluable. A local expert will understand the nuances of your area's weather patterns and building codes. They can inspect your home and suggest the best option for your specific situation, whether it's the strength of impact windows or the cost-saving benefits of shutters. Plus, they can offer insights into the latest products and technologies that could benefit your home.


How much more do impact windows cost compared to shutters?

While prices vary based on size and material, impact windows can be significantly more expensive than shutters. You might pay anywhere from $50-$100 per square foot for impact windows, while shutters can range from $15-$30 per square foot. However, impact windows can lead to energy savings and may increase your home's value more than shutters.

Can I install shutters over non-impact windows for similar protection?

Shutters do offer a layer of protection, but they're not quite on par with impact windows. Non-impact windows may still break under severe stress, even with shutters. The shattered glass won't fly around thanks to the shutters, but your home's envelope could be compromised, allowing water and wind to enter.

Do impact windows or shutters offer better UV protection?

Impact windows generally provide better UV protection, which can help prevent fading of your furniture and flooring. The laminated glass in impact windows filters out most of the UV radiation, while shutters only block UV rays when they're closed.

Are there any maintenance concerns to be aware of for either option?

Impact windows require similar maintenance to regular windows—regular cleaning and occasional checks to ensure the seals and tracks are in good shape. Shutters, especially those with moving parts, may require more maintenance, such as lubrication, to ensure they operate smoothly when you need them.

Can either option qualify me for homeowner's insurance discounts?

Yes, both impact windows and shutters can qualify for discounts on your homeowner's insurance, as they're considered protective features. Impact windows often yield higher discounts due to their permanent installation and the comprehensive protection they provide.

As you mull over the decision between impact windows and shutters, remember that the best choice is the one that aligns with your needs, budget, and peace of mind. Whichever option you choose, you're making a smart investment in the safety and resilience of your home. Stay safe and make an informed decision that you'll be satisfied with for years to come.