Hurricane Shutters & Hurricane Windows: How They’re Different From Standard Windows And Shutters

This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy thru these links, we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

hurricane-shutters-photo-by-asurroca.jpg Retrofitting your existing home or building a new one with the aim of resisting hurricane-force winds can be an expensive but worthy endeavor.

One area many homeowners are especially prudent to focus on improving the durability of their windows and protecting windows and doorways from high winds and flying debris.

The best way to ensure protection against brutally high winds is to install hurricane shutters and hurricane windows.

But what’s the difference between hurricane shutters and hurricane windows versus regular shutters and windows?


The Importance Of Strong Windows

If you’re thinking the biggest threat to your home is flying glass and debris should a window break during a hurricane, consider this:

Hurricane winds tend to lift roofs.

So, if a window gets broken, that creates an entry way for wind under your roof and makes it all the easier for a storm to severely damage or even destroy your home.

Of course, broken windows do pose a threat because of broken glass and the outdoor debris a broken window can let in. However, in terms of structural damage to a house, a broken window is literally an open opportunity for winds to really get to work on destroying your roof and, ultimately, your home.


Hurricane Windows vs Regular Windows

There are a few key differences between regular windows and hurricane windows:

  • Hurricane windows have stronger frames than ordinary windows
  • Two layers of glass are found in hurricane-resistant windows
  • There’s an impact-resistant layer of film between the layers of glass

What’s more, you’re providing yourself far more protection with hurricane windows than ‘only’ defense against high winds. Hurricane windows also:

  • Do a better job at keeping out crooks
  • Can save money on heating and cooling costs
  • Are better for the environment because of their energy efficiency

So, in the end, you’ll find that upgrading your older windows to hurricane windows or planning to install hurricane windows in a newly constructed house may be one of the best moves you can make.

And, remember, you can’t use stick-on hurricane film on your ordinary windows to replicate the protection of a hurricane window. Why? Because you’re still lacking the second layer of glass and reinforced frames that hurricane-resistant windows inherently offer.


What If You Can’t Afford Hurricane Windows?

While buying hurricane windows is a wise move, if you can’t afford to install them on your home, you do have another option: use hurricane shutters.

Hurricane shutters are wind rated to stand up against hurricane-force winds. While some may not be the most attractive way to protect your home, they get the job done. Besides, any hurricane shutter is more attractive and desirable than a demolished home (right?)

Hurricane shutters range in cost and style — here’s a breakdown of what you’ll be looking to spend for several of the most-popular types of hurricane shutters:

  • Plywood $2 to $5 per square foot
  • Storm panels $7 to $8 per square foot
  • Bahama hurricane shutters $18 to $30
  • Colonial hurricane shutters $18 to $30 per square foot
  • Roll-down hurricane shutters $30 to $55 per square foot


There are advantages and disadvantages to each. For example, plywood and storm panels may be the cheapest storm shutter options, but they also require a lot of storage and prep time. Bahama, colonial, and roll-down shutters may be more expensive, but they don’t require storage and don’t require much, if any, prep time to use during a storm.

For what it’s worth, fabric storm panels (also known as wind abatement screens) may not sound tough, but in fact those rated for use as a means of window protection against a hurricane are equal to plywood and similar window coverings.

There are other pros and cons among the different types of storm shutters, too — mainly aesthetically related.

Any type of hurricane-designated storm shutter protects better than a regular storm shutter because they are designed or proven to stand up against wind and flying debris. If you have an older home with aging, standard shutters, they’re likely going to do a far better job of shading you from the sun than keeping high winds and debris from flying into your home during a hurricane.

Beyond the strength of the shutter itself, what is also key is how the shutter is attached to your home. An older shutter is likely to be installed using regular hinges and screws. A hurricane-rated shutter is anchored to your home using hardware designed to resist against shearing and strong forces.