We’ve all heard of them. We’ve all seen them. Some of us have even installed them firsthand. Shiny, silver hurricane shutters made of strips of corrugated metal. Heavy, behemoth, sharp-edged monstrosities that make my blood pressure spike just by looking at them. Why? Because they are outdated and ineffective. I’m in the business of protecting homeowners from hurricanes and I need to get a few things off of my chest.
WHAT’S WRONG WITH METAL PANEL HURRICANE SHUTTERS?
Okay, let me be fair. Thirty years ago when Florida homeowners would get the news that a hurricane was looming offshore, the only option for protecting their home was nailing sheets of plywood over the windows and doors. This was better than nothing, but the plywood couldn’t stop the flying tree branches, roof tiles and coconuts from doing major damage. So metal hurricane shutters were born. While stronger than plywood, the metal panels were no match for Mother Nature’s fury. Watch this 20-second video to see what I mean.
Metal panels are:
- Outdated – There are better, safer options available to homeowners.
- Heavy – Each metal panel can weigh up to 75 pounds, and it may take 5-10 of these panels to cover a single opening.
- Difficult to install - Metal hurricane shutter panels are attached to bolts or tracks installed on the outside of your home. It takes one or two people to hold the panel in place, while another person screws in the bolts. The edges of the metal are very sharp and can cause serious cuts and injuries.
- Difficult to store – You must allow ample storage for your metal panels, preferably in your garage or other easy-access location. It is not advisable to put them in an attic or storage unit, because it will be difficult to access them at storm time.
- Not appropriate for older homeowners – The median age of Naples homeowners is 64. Most people this age are not physically capable of lifting and installing hundreds of pounds of metal panels. And, when a hurricane is approaching, it can be difficult to find help to install your hurricane shutters.
- Prone to Theft – Thieves have begun to target homes with metal hurricane shutters. They remove the panels and sell them for scrap.
WHAT’S A BETTER OPTION?
While there is no single hurricane shutter option that is right for every home, the option I recommend most often is AstroGuard Hurricane Fabric. AstroGuard is a resin-coated nylon hybrid fabric that feels similar to trampoline fabric when you touch it. AstroGuard is custom ordered to fit your windows, doors and lanai and is installed onto bolts around your openings. After the storm, it folds up neatly and is stored in laundry-type bags. Why do I like AstroGuard so much? Well, like the manufacturer’s slogan states, it’s Stronger, Safer, More Affordable and Easier to Deploy.
AstroGuard Hurricane Fabric is:
- Rated for 200 mph winds and category 5 hurricanes.
- Miami-Dade and Florida Building code approved.
- Transparent – When deployed, light is able to filter into the room, eliminating that cave-like feeling of traditional hurricane shutters.
- Easy to deploy at storm time.
- Lightweight, weighing in at only 11 ounces per square yard.
- Easy to store.
- Suitable for enclosing your entire lanai, making it unnecessary to move your outdoor furniture inside during a hurricane.
- Approved for insurance discounts by leading companies. After a wind mitigation, it pays for itself over time.
- Cost-effective – a much lower price point than impact glass or electric roll down shutters.
WHY ARE METAL PANELS STILL AROUND? AND WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT IT?
Why, indeed? Well, here’s the story. According to Florida Building Code, new homes are required to have hurricane protection, and metal panels are usually the easiest choice for home builders to offer, even though they are clearly not the best choice for homeowners. The builders have metal vendors in place and systems they have been using for decades, and many of these builders find it difficult to change their ways. If you are building a home, speak up during the building process and demand an upgrade in hurricane protection. Go in informed and know your options. After all, you’re the one that has to live with it year after year!
My dream would be for home builders to adopt AstroGuard Hurricane Fabric as the protection of choice on all new builds, but let’s face it…old habits die hard. But I’m not giving up! You may think this is a sales pitch for AstroGuard, but it’s really a pitch to protect the homeowners moving to Florida. Thanks for listening. I feel better now.