As a child growing up on the Gulf Coast every few years or so a storm would enter the Gulf and threaten the coast where I lived. My neighbor next door would pull out the custom window boards. Thick plywood with these little Plexiglas windows so he could peep out during the storm. My mother always said there’s no way you could get her in that house during the storm with those things on there. Too claustrophobic. But really it was a good idea. And besides if your living close to the coast and boarding up. Maybe its time to head in-land. But would his window protection really have helped? Well…yes probably. But recently I watched some videos of 2 x 4 boards being shot at windows using plywood as protection from a gun that was supposedly as fast as a tornado. And the windows didn’t fare so well. Its not every day that a 2 x 4 comes flying at a window. Even during a hurricane. But, it shows the flaw in the idea that wood by itself is enough to protect ones home. Of course it simply has to be better than placing duct-tape X’s in the windows. Even as a kid I thought that was pretty suspect.
Storm Panel Shutters
These are generally quite pricey but they are not permanently affixed to the home so they don’t take away from the look of the home. They will need to be installed early as they are bulky and can be heavy. It will probably take more than one person to install. But they are quite effective.
Traditional Storm Shutters
These fall into a loose variety. But bottom line these are permanently fixed to the home and generally swing or slide into place. People often complain that these shudders are eyesores. They can be made of a variety of materials from wood to steel or aluminum, so the quality of the protection can vary.
Roll Down Shutters
These are a good option. The shutters are installed above the windows and can be rolled out by hand-crank or by motor in the event of a storm. They are mostly invisible or at least not very noticeable when they are up. They are quite effective. And also can be used as a theft deterrent on summer homes in the window.
This is probably the best option. Hurricane windows don’t take away from the look of the home, don’t need any installation and are very effective. They can however be pricey and its probably best that they be installed on a new home at the time of construction. These are more often used by beach homes as their use further inland can’t really justified.