Hurrican Shutters

Installing "Peace of Mind"

Hurricane Shutters and Installation

Posted by cat5shuttersllc on February 6, 2012

Hurricane Shutters and InstallationAccording to FEMA, the best way to protect your home is to install professionally made storm shutters that are rated to withstand winds of 120 mph or more. You should cover all windows, French doors, sliding glass doors, and skylights. There are many types of manufactured storm shutters available. For more information on manufactured shutters, check with your local building supplies retailer. If you install manufactured shutters, follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Before installing shutters, check with your local building official to find out if a building permit is required.

Is a Do-It-Yourself Installation for You?

If you take on a shutter installation project as a do-it-yourself task, you need to be sure that you have enough information to get the shutter installed properly. We recommend permanent installation of fasteners for attaching shutters. Repeatedly installing shutters with nails or screws can damage your walls and weaken the connection when you really need it to work. Permanently installed fasteners make installation of shutters so much easier and faster than fumbling with screws and nails, plus this helps assure a more effective installation. The first things you need to know are:

  • What types of shutters you want to consider
  • How your walls are constructed including what types of finishes are installed over the structural part of the wall.
  • Any special features such as a window sill that sticks out from the wall.
  • Whether you want your shutters to qualify for insurance premium discounts.

With the types of shutters in mind and good information about different types of fasteners and anchors, you can decide what shutter solutions are best suited for your house and budget and pick the type of anchor to use for your house.

A table giving anchor size and spacing, using a one-size-fits-all philosophy, is included a little further down on this page. If you follow that spacing guidance, you can achieve a solid permanent anchor system for your shutters.
Next you will need to have or develop skill at installing fasteners into the walls of your house. This will likely involve skills at which you may not be practiced. This is especially true for concrete and concrete block installations that, in many situations and with most anchors and fasteners, require installation experience to ensure that the connections can withstand the vibrations created by hurricane winds. Special, though not exotic, tools may be required, such as a hammer drill, metal cutting blade for a skill saw, tools for setting anchors, ladders, etc. If you have these skills and have or can borrow or rent tools, then you may well want to consider installing shutters yourself. Bear in mind that to feel safe and be safe, shutter systems must be designed properly and installed properly.

Cost will likely be an important consideration when deciding whether to do it yourself or not. So bear in mind that though some panels may seem relatively inexpensive based on the square foot price of raw materials (such as plywood, or polycarbonates, etc.) you need to carefully lay out your panels and consider how much wasted material there will be that will raise the overall cost. Unfortunately cutting shutters from 4’x8′ pieces of plywood or polycarbonate product will frequently result in a lot of scraps you can’t use. Unless windows are small, you should figure that each window will require one 4 by 8 sheet of panel material. A typical bedroom window that is 3’ by less than 6’ will consume a full sheet, leaving scraps so small that they are practically worthless.

Professional installation relieves you of the burden of designing the shutter system and the physical task of installing them. It does not relieve you of the burden of selecting a reputable and competent installation company that is capable of designing shutter systems and then getting them installed. The design aspect may be made less risky if your building department requires a building permit and the building department is knowledgeable and able to review the shutter plans. Building departments cannot usually have the knowledge or time to make effective inspections of all installations. This is a weak link without an easy answer. One of the problems is that some shutter installation companies subcontract out the installation and do not have the incentive, knowledge, or will to inspect the installations themselves.

At times, the largest problems with hurricane shutter systems are the lead time for orders and installation backlog. For this reason, you will want to arrange for professionally installed shutters well in advance of the hurricane season. It is likely that having shutters made and installed during the off-season will save you money as well. Alternatively, you may choose the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) option, which can offer equal protection, reduced costs, and faster installation with minimal tools and average tools skills. There are several things to consider prior to selecting a DIY system. 

  1. Whatever the system is, it should have as a minimum for homes in Florida, a Florida Building Code Approval. Approved systems are independently tested and reviewed for compliance with the building codes. In some jurisdictions with strict permitting and inspection requirements, it may be difficult to obtain code approved products for DIY installations because they are trying to assure that appropriate systems are being properly installed.
  2. Most cities and counties in Florida will require permits for shutter or impact window and door installation. Check with your building department for local requirements.
  3. Attachment to the structure is critical to ensure the system performs as tested. Defective or inadequate attachment of shutters can give a false sense of security and mean that all your investment in shutters is wasted when the shutters come off during a storm and do not protect your house. For these reasons be sure to follow the manufacturer’s engineering specifications in determining size, type, and spacing, embedment, and edge distances for fasteners. Substitutions of fastening and anchoring systems are strongly discouraged and may compromise the systems strength and performance. On the other hand some installations are peculiar enough that the manufacturer’s recommendations simply cannot be implemented, yet alternative methods if engineered will work. Fastening is more critical than you may think because pressures applied to shutters can push in or pull out. In addition the vibration forces cause by hurricanes are much larger than you might think. Hurricanes are NOT winds that develop smoothly and then gradually recede. Instead hurricane winds are very gusty, so much so that they tear buildings apart. If you think about TV footage of hurricane winds you might recall how unsteady and how gusty they are. Fluctuating forces can tear fasteners and anchors of storm panels apart or vibrate them loose.
  4. Depending on the complexities of various installations, you might want to consider installing some shutters and letting a professional install others.

Distributed by Viestly

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