Photo of hurricane Fran - 1999

Lowcountry Storm Panels

Economical Polycarbonate Storm Panels for the DIY'er

Photo of hurricane Fran - 1999
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Planning Your Storm Panel Installation

In contemplating the installation of storm panels you, as the homeowner, have to first decide if you take any comfort in the testing and approval processes offered by various standards and governmental organizations, and, if so, to what extent you want to mimic the exact methods used during testing and certification. In other words, if you think that there is value (or you believe that someone somewhere down the road will place value on it) in being able to declare that your storm panel installation is compliant with a given referenceable standard then you must carefully follow the manufacturers recommendations (available at their respective web sites) for the installation. Or, you may ultimately decide to make your own determinations and engineering decisions concerning the installation process. In no case is any home really "hurricane proof" and, in my opinion, striking a reasonable balance between "over engineered" (i.e. fasteners every 6") and "I'm double-parked" (i.e. fasteners every 3 feet screwed into fiberboard) is the best cost/benefit compromise. Having said that:

The first step in planning the installation is to measure your openings. The manufacturer suggests indenting the fastener hole no closer than 2" to the edges of the panel. So basically you would determine the center-to-center distance between the framing studs on either side of the window (or top and bottom) and add 4" to each of these dimensions to end up with the overall panel size. If you don't know where the studs are you can either drill small holes (I'd do it on the inside because drywall is a lot easier to patch than siding) until you locate them or you can purchase an electronic stud finder at Home Depot. For asthetic purposes I chose to completely cover the window openings all the way to the outer edge of the trim around my windows (this meant indenting the fastener holes about 2-1/4" from the edge of the panel so it added practically nothing to the overall cost and looks nice). Click here for assorted pictures of panels actually mounted on a home.

Without a doubt, the most frequest question I field has to do with covering a sliding glass door. I have decided to devote a whole page to this topic. Click here to view this information.

Once you've determined the panels sizes, the next step is to try to predetermine how many and what size sheets you will require. Knowing that the sheets are available in a variety of sizes I sat down with pencil and paper and, using a trial and error method, I tried to figure out how I would cut the sheets into the various panel sizes I needed with as little waste as possible. I made little scaled paper cutouts of the panels I needed and some standard sheets and tried several combinations until I was satisfied that the waste wasn't excessive. By the way, the panels can be installed in either a horizontal or vertical orientation (relative to the internal flutes in the panel). It doesn't really matter, but I was able to have all of mine running up and down which I decided looked best to me (see pictures). If you like, you can print out Sheet Cutting Worksheets which should help you with this process.

Special Florida residents information.