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Impact Windows vs. Hurricane Shutters: Which Should I Install?

Brown shutters installed on the windows of a white building.
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No one wants their home to fall victim to the forceful winds of a hurricane. If you’re seeking protective options for safeguarding your windows, then you’ve probably heard of impact windows and hurricane shutters. Both are popular options for preventing strong winds and flying debris from bringing structural and water damage inside your home. But what are some key factors in the impact windows vs. hurricane shutters debate that will help you determine a clear winner? We’ve got some insight that will help you decide.

Impact windows installed of a home overlooking the water.

What Are Impact Windows

Impact windows are built from laminated glass covered in a film or glaze that prevents the window from bursting. This film keeps the glass intact and resistant to shattering. Severe winds and debris may cause cracks, but the glass will not burst open. The laminated glass is bonded to durable frames for extra protection against powerful storm winds. 

There are different impact windows for homeowners to choose between. Their availability varies depending on where you purchase the product. The most common types of impact windows are:

  • Single-Hung: Single-hung impact windows have one pane of glass that can slide up or down your window. Single-hung impact windows are considered the more traditional option of protection. They’re also fairly easy to match the design of your home.
  • Double-Hung: Double-hung windows are similar to single-hung windows in appearance. However, they offer two panes of glass instead of one.  
  • Casement: Casement impact windows let you adjust them horizontally or vertically. Casement windows are weather-resistant and also have a locking system, providing security to your home. 
  • Picture: Unlike casement windows, you can’t open or slide picture windows. Their closed position is fixed. Therefore, these aren’t the best choice for homeowners looking to enjoy an outdoor breeze now and then. However, picture windows are made from large pieces of glass, offering a great view of your yard instead. 
  • Sliding: You can open your sliding windows by, well, sliding them horizontally. They’re made with two windows, one that is fixed and the other that slides open.

What Are Hurricane Shutters?

In most cases, hurricane shutters are the white metal covering you’ll see over glass windows in coastal regions. You might see them installed on doors, too. They’re sturdy and reliable, working to protect your windows from shattering when flying debris blows through. 

Most homeowners using hurricane shutters should be advised not to leave the shutters on their homes throughout the year. Fasten or lower the shutters only when a storm is on the horizon. You’ll also want to maintain your hurricane shutters regularly to ensure they’re ready to defend your home when the time comes. 

Some Common Types of Hurricane Shutters Include:

  • Automatic Rolling Shutters: For fans of convenience and simplicity, automatic rolling hurricane shutters are your perfect match. Built tough with metal, these shutters latch to your window. When it’s time to put them in use, you can have them roll down automatically. When you don’t need them, they roll up into a box that’s typically at the top of your window. If a power outage is in your area and automatic use is not an option, some styles will let you manually pull the shutters down. The biggest downside to automatic rolling shutters is their expense and the need for professional installation. 
  • Storm Panel Shutters: Manufacturers make storm panel shutters from aluminum or steel. With the help of bolts and tracks, they latch to the walls surrounding your doors and windows. These types of shutters have a grooved panel that sits over each other to defend against strong winds and debris. While storm panel shutters are a sturdy option, they can be difficult to install. They also require a bit of effort to ensure each row lines up properly. 
  • Accordion Shutters: As their name suggests, accordion shutters fold like the musical instrument. More specifically, they fold up when not in use and fold down when bad weather is on the way. They are made of metal and latch permanently to your windows or doors. You can easily install these shutters on your own, but keep in mind they may not be as aesthetically pleasing as some of your other shutter options. 
  • Colonial Shutters: While accordion shutters may not be easy on the eyes, many people like colonial shutters for their stylish design. Most colonial shutters are built from fiberglass, metal, or wood and have two louvered parts. These louvered pieces latch onto the sides of a window and you can fold them up when the weather is nice. 
  • Bahama Shutters: Similar to colonial shutters, Bahama shutters are an attractive option to choose from. Homeowners may even find the tropical aesthetic more charming than the other available options. These types of shutters also have a louvered piece that connects to the top of your home’s window. The shutter also has horizontal slats you can adjust to a 45-degree angle to keep rain from entering your home. The biggest drawback to these shutters is that they’re often not as durable as the other options. You also can’t install Bahama shutters on doors or other large entrances.

Light brown hurricane shutters installed on the windows of a balcony.

Impact Windows vs Hurricane Shutters: Which Is Better?

Now that we know what these two shutters offer, it’s time to weigh the pros and cons in our impact windows vs. hurricane shutters debate.

Pros of Hurricane Shutters

Overall, hurricane shutters are the more affordable solution. Of course, this will depend on the type of shutters you select from a manufacturer, but you can find some styles for $8 per square foot. 

Hurricane shutters also provide you with more style options. This is convenient for shoppers looking to avoid installing an eyesore onto the exterior of their home. When the weather is great and you no longer need the shutters, most types of hurricane shutters are easy to remove.

Cons of Hurricane Shutters

Unfortunately, hurricane shutters aren’t perfect. They have their own set of flaws. 

For example, you have to go outside and install your shutters prior to a storm approaching. So if you’re out of town when a storm is arriving, your property will be in danger unless someone stops by and installs them for you. They also block out any sunlight from reaching inside your home and aren’t sound resistant. Last, their garage door-like appearance might be an eyesore for some.

Pros of Impact Windows

Impact windows are the more low-maintenance option because they’re ready to go year-round. This means you don’t have to call up a friend or family member to stop by and install them for you if you’re out of town when a storm is approaching. 

A few other features that make impact windows stand out in the impact windows vs. hurricane shutters debate are their noise resistance, extreme durability, and transparent structure that doesn’t block out sunlight. They also give you all the benefits of having new windows and provide energy savings by reducing the amount of heat entering your home.

Cons of Impact Windows

The major drawback of impact windows is the price you’ll pay for installing the glass in your home. However, the expense will vary depending on where you choose to purchase your windows. Impact windows also don’t have many style options to pick from.

Brown hurricane shutters installed in a bedroom.

Which Should You Install?

It’s time to bring this impact windows vs. hurricane shutters debate to a close. 

While both options are great for protecting your home against storms, the choice you make boils down to what you’re willing to spend and the type of protection you’re seeking. 

If you don’t mind the price of impact windows because of the return on investment they provide, then they’re certainly worth the purchase. Impact windows are also more durable than hurricane shutters and must endure rigorous testing requirements to ensure their resistance to breaking and their strength against hurricanes, tornadoes, and other unpleasant weather. Homeowners looking to replace their windows should without a doubt choose impact windows for their home. But if you’re wanting more flexibility on the style of your protection and looking for a more affordable solution, then hurricane shutters might be your winner. 

For more insight on achieving home improvement projects, both large and small, give the folks at ONIT a call at 1-833-433-0331. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have about creating the space of your dreams.

ONIT Home is your one-stop shop for all your bundled home needs. We’re currently offering $1,500 in vouchers to be used with security, water and solar. You can also get a free water filtration system and security system with the purchase of a solar panel system, or a  $2,000 security system for only $1,000. That way, you can protect your family from contaminated water and protect them with a safe home. 

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