Severe Weather: Shutters for Doors and Windows

Shutters are your best defense against high winds and flying debris. Here’s a quick guide for both permanent and removable storm shutters.

storm shuttersMarquisphoto/Shutterstock

Photo: Marquisphoto/Shutterstock

Removable Shutters or Panels

Removable shutters or panels attached to permanently installed bolts are a durable and economical solution that works with most windows and doors. After the first use, when the shutters are cut to size and bolts are set, these types of shutters can be installed and removed very quickly.

Do it smart. Shutters need to be firmly attached to the house to work well. Always bolt or screw shutters to the framing. You can find framing locations by using a stud finder on the interior wall.

Remember that skylights and vents also need to be covered. Accessories for building up shutters over projecting vents or trim details are available. Don’t use nails to attach shutters. They won’t hold adequately and will damage siding. Check with local officials for guidelines on temporary shutter installation.

Polypropylene Panels

Tough, corrugated 4-ft. x 8-ft. polypropylene sheets are a quarter the weight of 5/8-in. plywood but just as tough. They’re cut to size with a circular saw and installed with bolts and wing nuts. They allow 70 percent of the light through.
Cost: Less than $700 for a small house (10 average windows and one large door), but some waste depending on window sizes.

Polycarbonate Panels

These 4-ft. x 8-ft. panels are similar to polypropylene, but much clearer. Objects and movement can be seen through them, and they let plenty of light into the house. One side is UV resistant so panels won’t yellow in the sunlight.
Cost: Around $950 for a small house.

 Aluminum Corrugated Shutters

Aluminum panels come in one ft. wide, easy-to-handle sections that fit into permanently installed top and bottom tracks (side-mounting is also possible). The tracks can be painted to match the house, and built-out tracks are available to span existing window sills and trim.
Cost: Around $1,125 for a small house.

Polycarbonate Corrugated Shutters

Like aluminum shutters, these come in narrow sections and are installed on top and bottom tracks. The polycarbonate is almost as clear as window glass. The panels are light and easy to handle and are available in a wide range of sizes.
Cost: Around $1,800 for a small house.

Fabric Panels

Fabric-shield panels are made of strong, PVC-coated fabric. Grommets are installed after the fabric is cut to size, then the panels are fastened in place with permanent bolts and wing nuts. The panels allow some light through.
Cost: Around $1,100 for a small house.

Temporary Plywood Shutters

shutterPlywood shutters are inexpensive, but difficult to install on 2nd story windows and large openings. Siding repairs may be needed to patch screw holes when these shutters are removed. FEMA recommends using minimum 5/8-in. plywood, overlapping the windows by at least 5-in., and screwing into the framing every 8 to 12 in.

Permanent Shutters and Screens

Permanently installed shutters are the most expensive option, but are convenient once they’re in place, and may qualify you for a discount on homeowner’s insurance.

Roll-down Shutters

shuttersHousing and track are bolted to framing. Shutters are hidden inside housing when not in use.
Pros: You can add an electric motor with battery backup and close these shutters automatically.
Cons: Initial expense is high ($26 to $40 sq. ft.). Lets in very little light.

Accordion Shutters

accordion shuttersHousing and tracks are bolted to framing.
Pros: Fits wide or curved openings. Less expensive than roll-down shutters ($14 to $25 sq. ft.).
Cons: Side-mounted housing can be unattractive. Must Re be closed from outside with casement or awning scr windows.

Colonial or Bahama Shutters

colonial or bahama shuttersHinges are bolted to framing – on the side of the window for Colonial or above the window for Bahama.
Pros: Attractive, good ventilation. Less expensive than roll-downs ($18 to $35 sq. ft.). Available in a wide variety of colors.
Cons: Only for windows. May not be code-approved in some areas.

Steel Mesh Screening

steel mesh screeningStainless steel mesh screens on a metal frame are permanently mounted in window opening. Screen doors are also available.
Pros: Similar to regular window screen, and it’s always in place. Let’s light and air through. Increases security.
Cons: Expensive ($35 sq. ft.). More complicated installation with out-swinging windows. Flexible, so it needs to be spaced 3-in. away from glass.

Removable Fabric Screens

removable fabric screensFlexible polypropylene mesh screening is fastened to permanently mounted bolts or tracks around opening.
Pros: Lets light and air through. Works well for porches, balconies, lanais and other large or irregular openings. Lightweight and easy to store.
Cons: Limited availability and usually installed only by authorized dealers ($12 to $14 sq. ft.). Needs to be spaced away from glass.

Information for this post was made in collaboration with Lowes for a severe weather guide.