What are Hurricane Shutters?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Hurricane shutters are shutters which are designed to protect windows and doors during a hurricane. The design includes strong fixtures which will prevent the wind from ripping the shutter off, along with a sturdy construction which will resist flying debris and prevent crushing or breaching of the shutter. In areas where hurricanes are common, public safety agencies and local governments usually strongly recommend that homeowners install hurricane shutters to safety, and to minimize costly damages caused by hurricanes and strong storms.

It is critical to secure windows before a major hurricane.
It is critical to secure windows before a major hurricane.

There are a number of different styles of hurricane shutters on the market, including roll down, accordion, colonial, and Bahama shutters, along with storm panels. Many hardware and home supply stores carry these shutters and the installation equipment, and it is also possible to order them directly from manufacturers and suppliers.

Roll down hurricane shutters are housed in the upper part of a window or door, with a tab which can be used to pull down the shutter in a storm. The base of the shutter locks to the base of the window, securing it in place, and the shutter rolls along a track inside the window frame, with the track holding the shutter in place during the heavy weather. Accordion hurricane shutters are made from folding panels which secure into the sides of windows and doors when they are not in use, with similar fixtures to secure the shutter in place when it is in use.

Colonial hurricane shutters look like traditional fold back shutters, designed in the form of two hinged panels which fold back against the exterior wall when not in use, and clip together when it is necessary to protect a door or window. This hurricane shutter design is popular in some areas because it does not clash with the architecture of a structure. Bahama shutters are made with a single hinged panel which pivots above doors and windows, providing shade when extended or being fully closed to provide hurricane security.

Storm panels are the most inexpensive option, although they are not terribly attractive to look at. These panels made from wood or metal are designed to clip in place over windows, and to be removed when no protection from storms is necessary. It can be difficult to fit storm panels, and they can be cumbersome to move into place, but they provide excellent protection. They also tend to deter looting as they are difficult to remove without the proper tools.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


In my opinion, the crystal clear, flat polycarbonate hurricane shutters are the only way to go. They look good, don't distort your view and act like storm windows by lowering your heating and cooling costs. I watched a video online and they look extremely strong, too.


What a description about Storm Shutters it is. It is giving a clear idea about comparison of varieties of shutters.


@seafoam - Hurricane storm shutters can be purchased in a clear version these days. I guess that does you no good in your current home, it's far too expensive to replace the old ones just because you want to be able to watch the storm as it blows through!

A few of our neighbors have bought the hurricane fabric that looks like screens. They are so much easier to put up and take down, even a little old lady can do it! Not only are they lightweight and simple to work with, you can see through the fabric.

Since hurricane season lasts such a long time (June 1st - November 30th), it's great to have shutters that are both strong and easy on the eye.


Storm panels have come a long way in the past few years. There are some nice, new options these days but we still own the old tried-and-true aluminum hurricane shutters.

They have their pros and cons — they take hours to set up and hours to take down. They are sturdy and dependable, but it's like being in a dark cave once they've been attached to every window in your home. Not being able to see out in the middle of a hurricane can make you feel pretty batty. I speak from experience after living through Charley and Wilma, two Florida hurricanes.

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