BATTEN DOWN THE HATCHES
Shoring Up Windows, Doors and Roofs Is Our Best Defense
LtD By Natalie de la Garza
With hurricane season around the corner, it’s time to consider new ways to protect our homes from damage caused by wind and debris because – spoiler – plywood is no longer our best defense against Mother Nature.
Though regular windows may withstand the effects associated with a Category 2 hurricane, impact resistant windows have been shown to protect against the catastrophic power of a Category 5. The genius of the impact resistant window is in its design: two layers of laminated glass held together by a plastic vinyl interlayer. It may crack like a “spider web” but it will not lose its integrity or allow water and debris inside.
If replacing windows is not an option, installing shutters can offer a layer of protection. Rolling shutters, which when closed form a barrier against projectiles, are a popular and affordable option. If a more traditional aesthetic is preferred, both the Bahama and colonial style shutters, made with powder-coated aluminum, offer protection while resembling classic wooden shutters. And accordion shutters – a series of aluminum planks that expand and contract along a top and bottom track – are perfect for protecting larger areas.
Hurricane panels are a tried and true option, and stronger than shutters, for protecting windows and doors during a storm. Typically installed by bolt or on a track, panels can be constructed from galvanized steel, corrugated aluminum, or a polycarbonate that is clear and has the advantage of letting in light if the power goes out.
A lightweight alternative to heavy corrugated panels are fabric panels. Hurricane fabric panels can cover large areas, such as patios, and be easily folded and stored when not in use. Though they will not prevent a window from breaking, they can help keep water out while also keeping pressure stable inside a structure.
When it comes to protecting doors, which is one of the most common places where water can enter a house, typical solutions have been sandbags and expanding urethane foam. Products such as FloodGate, which offers a 26-inch barrier that blocks water while leaving a doorway accessible, can be used inside or out. And companies like Tapco manufacture doors and screens that use stainless steel wire set in an aluminum frame, protecting not only against debris, but also blocking heat and UV rays, resulting in a lower electric bill. Don’t forget the garage door, either. Consider a wind load reinforcement system designed to withstand high-wind conditions.
Although reinforcing the roof may be your best bet, there are other approaches that will provide added protection. Replace any old shingles, as newer shingles can protect roofs from wind gusts up to 150 mph – three times what older shingles can offer. And don’t skimp on yard maintenance, as something as simple as trimming trees might be the difference between a rotted limb crashing through the roof or not.
Remember, if in doubt, consult the Texas Department of Insurance, which maintains a list of TDI-approved hurricane protection products and product evaluations to help homeowners make the best choices for keeping homes safe and dry during the next big storm.
Gulf Coast Windows
10839 Train Court
Houston Hurricane & Security
1314 West FM 646 West, Dickinson
Renaissance Windows & Doors
3004 Beverly, Pasadena
Storm Tight Windows
16920 Texas Avenue, Webster
Texas Hurricane Fabric
2731 FM 517, San Leon