HURRICANE FABRIC: THE FUTURE OF STORM PROTECTION
As a homeowner in a coastal area prone to Hurricanes, you have probably considered hurricane panels at one time or another. Hurricane panels or shutters protect your home from damaging winds, driving rain and flying debris often associated with hurricanes and severe storms.
In the past, hurricane panels took the form of plywood, metal and corrugated lexan. The materials used for these panels typically produce heavy, cumbersome panels which require a massive storage area when the panels are not in use. A typical rigid panel is mounted on tracks, protruding anchors or brackets which often remain in place even when the panel is not in use. This hardware is unsightly and detracts from the overall aesthetic of your home. In addition, installation of most rigid panels will require the help of two or more people to position and attach the panels to the openings. Rigid panels such as plywood, metal and lexan can be dangerous if you are installing the panels in a high wind situation. Don’t worry, there are less dangerous alternatives.
Times and technologies have changed and given rise to a new option in the fight against the storms fury. Introducing hurricane fabric panels, yes fabric! Advancements in fabric technology have given rise to the fabric hurricane panel. Fabric panels are typically made from polypropylene mesh or a layer of woven fabric that is coated with a geo-synthetic PVC material, in some cases, Kevlar. So how do they stack up against their competition?
COST: At only $3 – $5 sf installed, plywood is the least expensive storm panel on the market. Rigid steel corrugated panels, average between $10-$14 sf installed. Accordion style storm shutters can be installed in the $18-$28 sf range. The fabric panel is the second least expensive panel on the market at $9 – $12 per square foot professionally installed.
DEPLOYMENT: Fabric hurricane panels are extremely lightweight and easy to handle. After the initial installation, panel deployment can be handled by one person. On the other hand, rigid panels (i.e. plywood, metal and lexan shutters) are awkward, cumbersome and heavy requiring multiple people to install. Fabric has a clear advantage when it comes time to deploy the panels; they are lightweight and easy to handle.
IMPACT RESISTANCE: Resistance from flying debris impacts is typically the main deciding factor when choosing a shutter system. Independant tests have proven that some fabric hurricane panels can withstand Category 5 impact testing as well or better than rigid panels. Fabric panels are designed to absorb the impact by deflecting and slowing the projectile. Rigid panels are designed to simply resist the impact by shear strength of the material. Fabric panels have proven they can match and exceed rigid panels in all impact tests and do it at a lesser cost to the owner.
INTRUSION: During a hurricane, wind and rain are a major cause of damage to a home. High winds drive rain into small cracks and crevices in and around windows and doors. Fabric panels are both water and wind proof. Fabric panels are available in custom cuts and sizes allowing the installation of one seamless panel across the entire opening. On the other hand, the rigid panel is limited to its size and weight restrictions. The use of multiple rigid panels can create cracks and crevices at panel joints which invite both wind and water leaks. The fabrics ability to span large openings gives it a slight advantage here.
AESTHETICS: If you have visited a hurricane prone area, you might have noticed unsightly metal panel anchors or tracks mounted around the windows and doors. Even worse massive roll shutters permanently mounted above and around the door. Some people don’t give it a second glance but if you’re like me, you notice how debilitating it is to the overall architecture of your home. Fabric panels require minimal hardware. Often times the mounting hardware is set flush with the window trim surface and even painted to be virtually invisible.
GLASS BREAKAGE: Ok, this is where the fabric panel takes a backseat to the rigid panel. A typical storm panel, rigid or fabric, will be installed approximately 1″-2″ outward of the window/door it protects. During an impact from flying debris, the panel deflects inward toward the window. If it deflects too far, the impact will break the window behind the panel. In this scenario, the more rigid the panel the lesser the deflection and the lesser the chance of breaking the window.
STORAGE-MAINTENANCE: Clearly the fabric panel will prevail here. All rigid panels require a massive amount of space for storage. Storage should be indoors so the elements don’t affect them. Plywood rots and warps, Steel rusts and Lexan degrades from UV rays. Fabric panels will not rot, rust, break or degrade. After use, the fabric panels can be hosed off, folded up like curtains, placed in storage bags and stored in an attic, shed or closet. Fabric shutters are near maintenance free, require minimal storage space and are easy to store.
In conclusion, fabric hurricane panels are an inexpensive, lightweight, easy to install, impact resistant, attractive, low maintenance solution to cumbersome, unsightly rigid storm panels on the market today.
-blog provided by Michael York, The Coastal Cottage Company – www.coastalcottageobx.com