Lowcountry Storm Panels
Economical Polycarbonate Storm Panels for the DIY'er
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|Panel and Anchor Installation Notes|
As the homeowner, nobody can dictate to you (at least
not yet) how to install your storm panels. If you believe that the
methods described here are adequate, you are entitled to follow them.
However, if you believe that your exposure (or some other reason)
compels you to replicate the methods used during certification testing
then you must follow the procedures outlined in the testing
documentation (available on our Products/Pricing page) precisely..
I chose not to do so for my own
installation based on my knowledge of the wind zone I am in,
the surrounding structures near my home, my distance from the open
ocean and asthetic considerations. I chose to use larger, stainless
steel anchors because their pull-out rating is higher and I believe
they are more attractive than the zinc-coated PanelMate brand
anchors used during the testing. In addition, the bolts I used have a
larger head than the wingnuts used during the testing and will have
less of a tendency to be pulled through the panel under extreme
conditions. Such is the nature of the "Do-it-Yourselfer". But, let me
finish this thought by saying that I do not profess to be an expert on
the mounting of hurricane panels, nor do I know if there is
such a thing. The information provided here is to assist you in making
an informed decision on what installation technique might work well for
your situation. I accept no responsibility or liability for any aspect
of your storm panel installation or future consequences that may arise
out of your use of the products or information provided here. The
discussion that follows describes my experience attaching Gallina storm
panels to my own home..
With that out of the way,
there are several ways of effectively attaching storm panels to your
home. The method you choose depends on your own evaluation of the
difficulty of performing the tasks combined with your economic
and asthetic concerns. In any case, in my opinion, the "best" method,
with all things considered, involves the installation of
permanent anchors around the openings to be protected. My reasoning for
this is that they can be covered so as to not detract from the
appearance of the home when the panels are not mounted and they make
the installation of the panel a breeze when you need them. Put another
way, the time you invest (when you are not pressed) installing the
anchors is repaid by making it easy to mount the panels when
you may be sorely pressed for
The process of installing the anchors is a simple enough exercise and involves only the use of an electric drill and other standard handyman tools. In deciding just where to place the anchors I tried to strike a balance between the spacing that the manufacturer used during their official testing (14") and a "reasonable" amount for the particular panel involved. I first considered the longest panel edge and placed my corner anchors no more that 5" from the panel corners. Then I divided the remaining space between the corner anchors into whatever equal spacing was roughly 14" apart. Sometimes it worked out that the spacing needed to be 12" and other times it worked out that 15" worked well. For the short edge, I often ended up going 10" in from the corner and then splitting the remainder. It just seemed to me that having two anchors installed real close to each other at the corners was "overkill". After deciding on the spacing for the anchors, my technique was to mark the anchor locations on the panel (on the protective peel-off film applied at the factory) with a magic marker. Then, I put the panel up temporarily using a couple of long screws at the upper corners. Once the panel was held in place I drilled small (1/8") "locator" holes through the panel and into the house through each of the magic marker marks. Then I'd take the panel down, drill the anchor holes with the combo drill bit, squirt a little caulk in the hole, screw the anchor in and wipe off the excess caulk that squeezed out of the hole. When it comes to placing the final holes in the panel I've always found that trying to drill a large hole in thin material in an exact location was difficult because the drill bit tends to "grab" and "walk" suddenly. In order to ensure that the holes in the panels lined up properly with the anchor locations, I enlarged the "locator" holes with a rotary tool (i.e. Dremel or RotoZip) with a tapered grinding bit and made them a little bigger than the 1/4" anchor bolt threads.
When it comes to these anchors - it is not a test. Just as there is no "perfectly right" answer, there is no "wrong" answer, but the closer you keep to the 14" standard, the more assurance you'll have that you're doing it the way the manufacturer would have. At first glance that spacing may seem excessively close, but it is important to understand that a hurricane isn't just a straight-line wind. It includes swirling and gusting winds that push and pull on the panels. (Consider what holds up a 200 ton airplane to understand the force of these pressure gradients). It is absolutely essential that proper thought be given to this pulling force and, that whatever anchors you choose, they are anchored solidly into the framing studs of your home. Ultimately, it's up to you to decide what is "reasonable" for each of your windows.
At any rate, my approach was to install these anchors on
two windows a day (which typically took 2-3 hours) and I finished the
project in an unhurried fashion in under 2 weeks. Once the
anchors are installed, the task of actually
mounting the panel(s) in anticipation of a storm is very easy. My
largest panel has 20 anchors (I may have overdone this one a
little - it was the second window I attacked) and I timed myself
actually mounting the panel - it took 4 minutes. A battery-powered
electric drill (set to its lowest torque setting) with a phillips bit
makes this a breeze.
If you have any questions on installation issues please either e-mail me at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org or call 843-227-8887 and I'll be happy to give you my thoughts.