Every once in a while Central Texans get pelted with serious hailstorms, notably one monster that damaged what seemed like half the cars in town several years ago. As we move into spring storm season, this is a good time to think about protecting yourself, your family, and your home against these threats. Here are some solutions for hail-proofing your residence:
Shutters and panels – Protecting your family members from flying glass takes top priority when large hailstones are dive-bombing you from various directions. The easiest way to protect both your loved ones and the investment you’ve made in your windows is to attach sturdy storm shutters or window panels. These products are typically available for commercial and residential properties alike. You can choose from permanent shutters that are always ready to protect the windows against various types of flying objects (including tree branches or other dangerous items flung by high winds), or temporary shutters that are only installed during hail or tornado season. Solid panels provide an additional degree of protection, at the cost of being able to see through them as you can with shutters. Aluminum or steel are common materials for storm shutters and panels; you should be able to find them in a style and color that enhance your home exterior.
Screens – If you’re worried about protecting your sliding glass doors against hail impacts, consider installing protective screens. Some companies offer screen material made of UV-resistant polyester mesh fabric, available in large rolls that can be cut to protect just about any space imaginable. You can even attach it to your back porch to cover the entire area, protecting not only your patio door but other nearby windows as well. Framed metal mesh screens can protect individual windows from smaller hailstones.
Film – If you don’t want to put up shutters or screens, think about adding a layer of invisible security film to the windows themselves. This film is a plastic laminate that bonds to the surface of the glass. It performs the same basic role as the laminate layer in a car windshield, holding the glass in place if a heavy object such as a massive hailstone hits it. You’ll still have a messed-up window, but your loved ones on the other side of it won’t be hurt by flying glass.
Double-paned windows – Most people choose double-paned windows primarily for their energy efficiency, but that second layer of glass also provides a second layer of protection against hail. A hailstone that penetrates the first layer of glass might be slowed enough to hit the second layer without breaking it, possibly preventing serious injury to your home’s occupants. It may also prevent wind and rain from blowing in and messing up the interior. Double-paned glass obviously isn’t your first mode of hail defense, but it bears thinking about for that extra bit of impact resistance.