If you live in an area susceptible to tropical storms and hurricanes, you may want to consider installing hurricane shutters on your windows. Because they can prevent storm-tossed debris from flying through your windows, they are the first line of defense against damaging winds.
Shutters can be made of plywood, aluminum, polycarbonate plastic, and even high-strength fabric. Hurricane shutters come in a variety of forms, from roll-down to Bahama-style shutters.
Learn more about the factors to consider when shopping for the best hurricane shutters and the top picks in several categories.
- BEST OVERALL: QMI Roll-a-way Security Shutters
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: AstroGuard Hybrid Hurricane Fabric Panel
- BEST POLYCARBONATE: Clear Panel Hurricane Shutters
- MOST STYLISH: Larson Shutter Custom Louver Aluminum Shutters
- BEST FOR SLIDING DOORS: Shutter-Tech, Inc. Accordion Shutters
- BEST ROLL UP: Hurricaneshutters.com Rolling Hurricane Shutter
- BEST COLONIAL: Palm Coast Colonial Shutters
- BEST BAHAMA: Hurricaneshuttersflorida.com Hurricane Shutters
- BEST PLYWOOD: Severe Weather 3/4-in Southern Yellow Pine Sheathing
Types of Hurricane Shutters
Hurricane shutters come in five basic types: colonial, Bahama, plywood, accordion, and roll down.
Classic colonial hurricane shutters, which consist of two wood or aluminum panels mounted on hinges on either side of the window, are attractive options for storm protection. When closed, they create a shield over the window. They not only serve a practical function, but they add to the exterior decor as well. Houses in areas not threatened by hurricanes often feature decorative versions of colonial shutters.
Bahama hurricane shutters, typically made from aluminum or wood, are louvered shutters on hinges along the top of windows. When open, they act as a canopy over the window, providing shade while allowing air to ventilate the home. However, they may block too much light and obstruct the view.
Plywood panels are a cheap, effective way to protect your home’s windows in a hurricane. This DIY method involves cutting plywood to the window’s shape and attaching the plywood to the window frame with screws or nails. However, plywood’s weight makes it unsuitable for second-story windows. Moreover, using plywood requires you to drill unsightly holes into your home.
This type of shutter unfolds, accordion style, across a window to protect it. Accordion shutters, which consist of a series of small, linked panels that travel in a metal track, are aluminum, making them strong and durable. They’re also good for sliding glass doors and picture windows.
Roll-down shutters, manufactured of polycarbonate plastic or aluminum, can be pulled down to protect the glass. Although they provide excellent protection, roll-down shutters require installing an enclosed box along the tops of windows, which aren’t very attractive.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Hurricane Shutters
When shopping for the best hurricane shutters for your home, also consider material, weight, and maintenance.
A hurricane shutter should be able to withstand the force of projectiles hurled against it by hurricane-force winds. The sturdiest hurricane blinds, those made of heavy-gauge aluminum, can deflect projectiles moving up to 200 miles per hour. Polycarbonate plastic, 3/4-inch plywood, and even high-strength hurricane fabric create effective barriers.
Unless you have hurricane shutters professionally installed, weight can be an issue, especially for second-floor windows. Sheets of 3/4-inch plywood and corrugated metal sheeting can be quite heavy, requiring two people for installation. The smaller panels on colonial-style and Bahama shutters make them easier to install, while almost any DIYer can install fabric shutters.
Ease of Cleaning and Maintaining
The cleaning and maintenance of hurricane shutters depend on the type. The tracks on roll-down and accordion-style shutters must be cleaned frequently, so they open and close smoothly. Many users power wash Bahama and colonial-style shutters once a year and lubricate their hinges to ensure smooth movement.
Our Top Picks
A list of some of the best hurricane shutters on the market in several categories, based on various shopping considerations, follows.
For the best protection for windows, it’s tough to beat rolling-style shutters like these from Roll-a-way. The shutters mount over windows or doors and roll into place in seconds with the push of a button. Their interlocking aluminum pieces provide great strength to protect structures from wind speeds of 200 miles per hour. They also offer a shield from blowing rain, which helps prevent flooding. Roll-a-way houses the shutters in a small storage box to make them more attractive. With a manual version as well as a more expensive electric option, the shutters come in seven neutral hues, ranging from white to bronze.
Outfitting a home for hurricane protection can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. AstroGuard’s strong hybrid fabric is designed to withstand projectiles tossed by Category 5 hurricane-force winds. Cut the fabric to fit any-size window; then attach it with the included clips and anchors. Installation is relatively easy. Unlike other solutions, the fabric is translucent to let in light when drawn. When not in use, the fabric rolls up.
These polycarbonate panels are as strong as plywood but weigh far less. Each panel provides good protection against obstacles made airborne by hurricane-force winds. Unlike some other options, these panels are transparent, allowing the homeowner to see out of the window while also letting in light. Each panel comes in linear feet, with lengths available ranging from 33 to 88 inches. The largest panel weighs just 13 pounds. Easy-to-follow instructions help make installation easier.
These colonial-style shutters from Larson Shutter have decorative hinges and clasps and come in a range of colors to provide attractive storm protection. The sturdy aluminum shutters can withstand high-speed impacts from objects during hurricanes. They have 2.25-inch wide louvers with heavy-duty steel hinges. Attractive S-shaped wrought-iron clasps hold the shutters in place when open. When a storm is predicted, just fold them to meet in the middle. These shutters are available in widths up to 36 inches and heights up to 120 inches.
With their ability to cover wide spaces with ease, these accordion Shutter-Tech shutters are a good choice to help protect sliding glass doors. The shutter extends like an accordion to cover the opening and folds up next to the door when not in use. Thanks to heavy-duty stainless steel hinges, tracks, and a five-point locking system, the shutters can withstand impacts generated by high winds. Weather stripping and a rain guard prevent water from penetrating the shutters. Setup time is 15 to 30 minutes for an entire house.
These Hurricaneshutters.com rolling shutters offer optimal window protection against hurricanes while still allowing access to the window when not in use. The powder-coated aluminum construction and locking system can resist projectiles flying up to 185 miles per hour. The shutters can be closed and opened manually or with an electric motor. When not in use, the shutters store in a box above the window or door. Available in white, ivory, beige, and bronze, they are custom made for each window and can fit openings up to 24 feet wide.
These colonial-style hurricane shutters from Florida manufacturers Palm Coast provide excellent protection for homes threatened by hurricanes. Since they come in a range of colors and three styles, including open louver, solid back, and board and batten, they also add curb appeal. Palm Coast manufactures its shutters from aluminum to withstand both wind and projectiles. An easy open-and-close system makes for fast, easy preparation for bad weather. Installation hardware is included, and Palm Coast custom cuts each shutter to size.
These aluminum Bahama-style hurricane shutters can withstand impacts of up to 180 miles per hour, making them some of the toughest on the market. They come in two styles, high visibility, which allows more light in the window; and impact, with a metal mesh backing for maximum protection. These shutters add tropical flair to a home as well as storm protection, and they come in more than 100 color options. When open, they also provide a source of shade to help keep the interior cooler. Hurricaneshuttersflorida.com makes each shutter to order.
Though not the most attractive way to protect a home from hurricane winds, plywood is still one of the most effective and affordable solutions. This severe weather plywood can hold up to airborne debris, and, at the standard 4-by-8-foot width, can cover large windows. Simply cut the plywood to size and attach it to window frames with bolts or screws. This plywood is pressure treated to protect it from water damage, so it can be reused year after year. At more than 60 pounds a sheet, plywood is heavy and will require an extra set of hands to install.
The Advantages of Owning the Best Hurricane Shutters
Besides the obvious benefit of protecting a home from high winds during a hurricane, hurricane shutters offer other benefits, including:
- Add to the home’s curb appeal. Colonial and Bahama hurricane shutters not only protect windows, but also add style and character.
- Enhance security. Some hurricane shutters feature locks that keep them in place, preventing intruders from breaking into a home.
- Provide shade. Some hurricane shutters offer protection from the sun and can help cool the home.
FAQs About Hurricane Shutters
If you’re still wondering how to choose the best hurricane shutters, read on for more information.
Q. Are hurricane shutters really effective?
Yes. They reduce storm damage to a home by preventing projectiles from breaking glass and damaging doors. Some insurance companies offer premium reductions for homes with hurricane shutters.
Q. How long do hurricane shutters last?
Longevity depends on the material and quality. If well maintained, aluminum hurricane shutters can last the life of a home. Sheets of plywood will succumb to the elements after a few years.
Q. At what wind speed should you put up your hurricane shutters?
You should put up hurricane shutters even for Category 1 hurricanes to protect windows from debris created by the storm.